Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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The University Wants Your Great Cost-Saving Ideas

The University of Virginia wants your great cost-saving ideas. In return, you might take home a new Apple iPad.

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Pat Hogan invites members of the University community to submit ideas for how U.Va. can identify potential cost-saving and efficiency opportunities in centrally provided administrative and financial services. Dollars saved will then be redirected to support core academic functions.

It’s part of the “Paying Forward: Investing in the Future” project, which kicks off today with a new website and an invitation to submit any and all ideas that could create savings through efficiency and, in the process, help advance President Teresa A. Sullivan’s goal of making U.Va. the premier public institution in America.

What’s in it for you?  

Besides the satisfaction of helping to make U.Va. even better, those who submit ideas that are selected as finalists in the coming months could win an Apple iPad, Amazon Kindle or other prizes, including gift cards.

“Great ideas are the fuel for any organization to sustain success and drive excellence,” Hogan said. “Creative thinkers are a hallmark of this University. Through this initiative, I’d like to enlist your support to help find ways to increase our efficiency and at the same time direct more resources toward our mission of educating students, conducting meaningful research and providing superior patient care.”

“Paying Forward: Investing in the Future” will consider suggestions for cost savings and process improvements in Athletics, Development, Facilities Management, Finance, Human Resources, ITS, Procurement, Research, Student Affairs, Budget, the Police Department and Emergency Preparedness. But ideas from all corners of the University community are welcome.

“Your ideas don’t need to be fully researched or supported by a white paper. Just get us your ideas and we will do the research,” Hogan said. “We want suggestions for improving how we do our business, and we are willing to reconsider ideas that might have been brought forward but set aside earlier.”

Here’s how the process works:

  • Visit www.virginia.edu/costsavings to learn more about “Paying Forward: Investing in the Future” and to find a link to the entry form. You may also email ideas to slb3da@virginia.edu.
  • Entries will be accepted through April 15.
  • Members of the University’s Process Simplification Advisory Committee will review and prioritize the ideas. The committee may follow up with submitters if more information is needed or to verify information.
  • The committee will involve departments to help assess cost-savings ideas under consideration.
  • Prize-winners will be announced periodically.

The committee will use several guiding principles to review ideas: clarity of the proposed solution, impact of the resulting improvement, potential cost savings, and the balance between the cost savings and the complexity of implementation.

“Through the Process Simplification Advisory Committee, U.Va. already has proven experience and success in finding ways to operate more efficiently,” said Lee Baszczewski, U.Va. director of process simplification and coordinator of the “Paying Forward: Investing in the Future” initiative. “We hope that employees will take this opportunity to identify areas for improvement in their own departments as well as collaborate with others and imagine ideas which cross department boundaries to make significant improvements to operations.”

The University’s cost-saving successes reflect an environment of continuous improvement as well as heightened concern about maintaining the affordability of a college education.

“U.Va. is nationally recognized for handling its financial challenges by operating efficiently. At the same time, the long-established trend in financing includes consistently lower funding from state and federal sources,” Hogan said.

Hogan stressed that the new initiative is about identifying cost savings that can be pumped back into support of strategic priorities.

The U.Va. Medical Center also plans to roll out a cost-savings initiative focused on its operations. The “U Team Suggestion Box” will invite ideas from the Medical Center community that “collectively and individually improve quality, safety, the patient experience and financial stewardship.” More details about that program will be coming soon.

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