University of Calgary

Q&A: Don Barker

September 17, 2009
Don Barker reflects on MaPS and iS²
Don Barker reflects on MaPS and iS².

Q&A with MaPS President

Don Barker, MaPS president, sits down with UToday to talk about how Management and Professional Staff (MaPS) are involved with the iS² Project.

How is the MaPS executive working with the
iS² leadership team?

At the beginning of the Project, MaPS leadership was engaged in providing information about basic business practices and what processes and procedures could be eliminated that didn’t add value to the University. Examples of these include clear lines of authority and decision making, aligning functions to units with accountability for delivering those services, and putting in place policies and controls which would enable the University to manage its business operations more effectively.

The MaPS has had meetings with Gary Durbeniuk and will continue to meet monthly or as required, to talk about the status of the iS² Project and deliverables, the impact it have on staff resourcing, and the ability of the University to meet its service obligations while transitioning to a new support model.

A lot of MaPS staff are involved in driving this project. What perspective do they bring to the Project?
The institutional knowledge of many MaPS staff is invaluable for the University to transition to a new business support model. They understand both the requirement for eliminating processes which do not add value, and the need for retaining those processes which are critical for effective and efficient running of the University.

What impact is it having on maintaining momentum and engaging their staff in the Project?

There is always a great deal of anxiety that comes with change. Management and Professional staff will continue to keep their staff informed and solicit feedback from them on ways to improve basic business processes. The staff need to feel that the work they are doing is recognized as adding value to the University and the clients that they serve. We should be clear when defining which services will be required, eliminated or enhanced and the importance of these initiatives.

In your view, why is the iS² Project important?

This Project offers the University an opportunity to improve basic business processes, eliminate duplication, evaluate and improve the current business model, ensure that appropriate policies are in place and followed, and that there are adequate audit controls. This will enable the University to cut costs and become more efficient in their basic business processes.

What do you think the University needs to meet its service obligations while transitioning to a new support model?

The most important element will be to have priorities clearly defined and resourced accordingly.

What is your sense on the level of engagement among other MaPS employees in this Project?
Units who are the first order of attention of the Project, under the VP (Finance and Services), have been engaged, consulted and managed various aspects of the Project throughout the process. However, there are units outside of the portfolio of the VP (Finance and Services), which will be affected  somehow and  may not have been given the opportunity to  provide direct feedback on the impact that  these decisions will have on the services that they are currently providing. As projects are defined, linkages to other areas need to be identified. Input and recommendations from staff in those units will need to be gathered. The staff is very passionate about the work that they are doing and the contributions that they are making; iS² should be viewed as an extension of the services that they are currently providing.

Anything you want to add?

As we restructure business processes it is imperative that the academic issues and dynamics be taken into consideration and accommodated. 

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