OBFS transparency plan aims to improve communication
What can the Office of Business and Financial Services do to better serve university employees?
That’s the goal of a survey that will be sent in March to 6,000 university employees. The survey, designed by the Survey Research Lab, is part of the OBFS Transparency Initiative, which aims to improve communication between the office, campus units and university employees.
“We’re looking at the bigger picture — we have received feedback from our customers and they’ve indicated there are some areas we could certainly make improvements on,” said Jason Bane, senior business and financial coordinator in University Accounting and Financial Reporting.
“We’re here to support the campuses. We want to know how we, as partners, can make their tasks easier.”
The transparency initiative is a response to a review of university administration launched by U of I President Robert Easter in 2012. The transparency initiative is the first of several initiatives the office will implement based on the recommendations of the administrative review. Others will focus on topics such as improving customer service and developing training certification programs for OBFS customers.
Volunteers from OBFS units on all three campuses are spearheading the transparency initiative.
“It’s is a wide-scope project that’s trying to address some of the issues in the administrative review,” said Laura Barnett, assistant director of University Payroll and Benefits training. “We want to improve communication between our campus customers and our office and partner with them to find solutions to the challenges we both face.”
Each OBFS unit is working on improving transparency in its operations. One improvement the group is examining is finding an efficient phone system for payroll and benefits. Employees provided feedback on the university phone system through focus groups and a survey.
“With the three campuses, we have six separate phone lines and three different systems that were not designed for call centers,” Barnett said. “We’re looking for a solution that better serves our needs as well as the needs of our customers.”
The transparency survey will also address ways to improve communication on topics such as budget transfer transactions, Bane said.
“Sometimes we don’t have a way to give status updates as the transaction progresses through the process,” Bane said. “In the UIC Budget Office, we’re going to immediately respond to the budget transfer request and give the customer an estimated time.”
Employees who do not receive the survey can share their thoughts on the Sounding Board feature on the OBFS Transparency Commitment site.
“We’re hoping to get feedback from our customers on how we’re doing and identifying what we can do to improve,” Barnett said. “We want to build and maintain a culture of collaboration.”