University of California San Diego Scores Second Place in Innovation Award [#Onboarding]

SSON Awards

SSON is delighted to congratulate the Shared Services team at UC San Diego, which was awarded second place, or runner up, in the 2016 North American SSON Award for "Innovation". UC San Diego has generously agreed to share the winning application with our readers, to support best practices across the industry.

[See the interview with Kelly Aranaz from UC San Diego here]

Introduction: Reducing new hire process cycle time from 3 weeks to 3 days

At UC San Diego, business and administrative processes are distributed across campus departments. While we have some centralized offices, e.g. Payroll, Human Resources, Academic Personnel Office, business and administrative processes are scattered within departments across campus. Through the development of standard templates and an automated workflow, we have created a distributed model for shared services. Transactions are standardized, yet distributed throughout departments across campus, creating a virtual shared services environment. While this does not fit the typical model for brick and mortar shared services, it ensures standardized and consistent practices among business practitioners throughout the organization.

The UC San Diego ONBOARDING solution was developed to provide increased efficiency and significant value in the hiring process of a new employee. Through collaborative partnerships, simple process reengineering, and innovative technology design, the UC San Diego ONBOARDING solution impressively reduces process cycle time, improves time to employee productivity, enhances compliance and establishes an early connection with new employees.

First Impressions: Onboarding Cycle Was Paperbound and Time-consuming

The UC San Diego ONBOARDING solution effectively reduces our current new hire process cycle time of three weeks to less than 3 days, an 85% improvement in cycle time. This 85% reduction is substantial, given that UC San Diego hires approximately 11,500 individuals every year.

Optimization is accomplished through the implementation of a digital signature tool for collecting electronic signatures, a digital document storage repository, and software to act as the data integrator and driver of the process workflow.

UC San Diego ONBOARDING data fields are configured and captured on the solution’s official digital offer letter and initial new hire forms, which ensures that the data is entered into the required fields and that they are entered in the correct format. Additional edit capabilities allow UC San Diego to improve data quality, addressing our enhanced compliance goal. Once signed, forms are automatically routed into the form repository, reducing both paperwork (filing, storage and retrieval) and the manual review, indexing and scanning of forms, all of which reduce the administrative burden on departments. This process gives us the strength and power of data at our fingertips while also providing the protection of forms for audit and compliance purposes.

An additional benefit of the UC San Diego ONBOARDING solution is that it provides new employees with an early interactive experience as part of their welcome to UC San Diego. They are able to access a new hire website that will allow them to print a new hire parking pass, upload a personal photo for their campus ID badge, register for their electronic access to campus business systems and orient them to campus and campus leadership. This allows the new employee to establish an early connection with the university, and the information they receive is both accurate and consistent.

Prior to the UC San Diego ONBOARDING solution, new hire forms were provided in paper form, on the new hire's first day of work. Business transactions such as parking passes, campus ID badges, etc. were performed face-to-face, with the new hire traveling to the respective offices. Providing online access to complete their forms and complete the necessary business transactions prior to arriving on campus is a novel concept at UC San Diego. The automated workflow, combined with the automatic routing and storage of the forms is not only a time saver for hiring specialists; it is "smart" technology that is fundamentally different than the established processes.

New Solution is Repeatable and Scalable

While there are substantial gains with the UC San Diego ONBOARDING solution, the greater benefit to UC San Diego is that the ONBOARDING solution platform is repeatable and scalable for many of our Higher Ed business processes that require the use of forms, electronic signatures and data integration. This is perhaps the greatest demonstration of the innovation the solution represents.

A Proof of Concept was developed that has wide-ranging adaptability to other business processes. This solution will be distributed campus-wide for all departments to use in their hiring practices. This project began in June 2015, the pilot went live in March 2016, and a campus-wide release is scheduled in Fall 2016.

Project Team & Tools

The Project Team consists of a Program Director, a Project Manager, a Sr. Business Analyst, three Business Leads/Subject Matter Experts, a Communications/Training Lead, a Solutions Architect, three Developers, one tester, and one executive technical representative.

The project team leveraged leading industry technological tools that include DocuSign for the collection of electronic signatures and ability to configure and format fields for data entry to increase compliance and reduce data entry redundancy; idocs for a digital repository to store new hire forms with easy access and role-based retrieval; and Sales Force as the data integrator and driver of the process workflow.

Customers are the staff members in the participating departments performing the business transactions. They were consulted and met with regularly during the process. Their input and feedback was sought throughout the design and build phase of the project. We also count new hires to the university as our customers, although no consultation with them was possible.

Overcoming Cultural Barriers

Higher education is a culture that is steeped in tradition and it can be difficult to convince others to think differently about how to arrive at the same destination using different steps in the process. Often, one must demonstrate that new ideas and concepts can be adopted without violating existing policy or result in a loss in headcount. Our solution demonstrates how optimization of processes can create capacity within departments by giving the HR specialists time back in their day.

A more efficient process frees up time and resources that no longer needs to be committed to transactional work, thus allowing departments to focus on their core mission and goals.

Cost Saving, Efficiency Gains, and Customer Satisfaction

Our solution reduces time to productivity for new hires by 85%. UC San Diego hires approximately 11,500 individuals each year; the improvement in time to productivity alone on 11,500 new hires is significant. Paper forms, once numbering as many as 40, that were printed and manually signed, are reduced to 22 electronic forms that are digitally signed and stored in a digital repository. Departments no longer need to print the forms and create a paper file for each new hire. The file is created electronically and stored in a digital document repository.

As a result, our solution delivers significant cost savings, efficiency gains, and greater overall customer satisfaction campus-wide. Having a new hire set up and ready to work their first day vs. days of lost productivity awaiting electronic privileges, physically traversing the campus to secure a parking pass and have their photo taken for their campus ID badge is a win in both the efficiency gains and customer satisfaction sectors.

Forms are automatically routed into the form repository, reducing both paperwork (filing, storage and retrieval) and the manual review, indexing and scanning of forms, all of which reduce the administrative burden on departments.

The UC San Diego ONBOARDING solution provides new employees with an early interactive experience as part of their welcome to UC San Diego. They are able to perform necessary business transactions electronically, and to become oriented to campus and campus leadership online. Hiring specialists within departments are excited to have an electronic tool that facilitates the collection of electronic signatures, eliminates paperwork, automatically routes the forms for signature and storage, and prepares new hires for a productive first day of work.

Standardized Template

In our desire to optimize business processes across campus, we initially sought to structure our work around departments, e.g. identify departments that handle a high volume of business transactions and apply our solution organizationally. However, processes vary by department, depending on size, scope, volume, and expertise among individuals performing them. It soon became apparent to us that our focus needed to be on the process itself, regardless of how often and by whom it is performed. As a result, we developed a solution that is Department agnostic; it has relevance to all departments and its dominion is over how the transaction is performed, rather than in which department it is being performed. By re-directing our focus on to the process, we were able to create a standardized template for campus-wide distribution and use.

Lots of Potential

Once the proper software for our solution was identified, it was difficult to stay within the original scope of the project. Seeing what was possible when the correct software was utilized, the team realized the potential the solution presented to address any number of other campus business processes.

We learned the value of testing technological tools early on in the process, thus uncovering deficiencies within the technology that could not allow it to align with our goals.

We learned the true value of communication, i.e. the value of mapping terminology from the customers within the business units to the Information Technology Services professionals. Vernacular varies between the groups, and we learned that similar terms had very different meanings to each group. We met with the business units to fully understand their needs and translated them into "technology speak" for the technology team.

We also learned the value in consulting with other similar-sized universities to understand how evolved their processes were and to fully appreciate their evolution, i.e. what their principal goals were, how they achieved them, and what worked and did not work for them in their quest to innovate and improve.