Revamping Higher Education Administration: Efficiency and Innovation

Higher education has been the target of criticism concerning high tuition, wanton spending and committee culture run-amok. Although most institutions are highly responsible in their policies, practices and stewardship, tradition and conservatism lead to missed opportunities for efficiency and effectiveness. For instance, institutions frequently have dozens of business offices spanning schools, units and departments. Each business office typically has a mixed complement of leaders (CFO, business manager, CIO), administrative assistants, analysts and "transactors." This sprawl of administration often results in higher cost, longer cycle time and uneven quality. Some specific underlying problems include senior leaders with inadequate spans of control, inefficient back-and-forth between local and central, inconsistent interpretation of policy, divergent data definitions and the inability to handily adapt to change.


Higher Education Operations – Current State Pitfalls and Antidotes

From A&M's perspective, there are three levers to achieve excellence in administrative operations:

  1. Shift administrative operations to a constituent-centric, service-based model.
  2. Establish professionalized, contact center-based, service operations with the right people, processes and technologies to handle faculty and staff inquiries spanning in scope operations.
  3. Develop self-service and full-service technology capabilities to support the contact center: portal, contact, case and knowledge management.

Business architecture and operating model design are at the heart of this transformation. We work with our higher education client to adapt a constituent-centric operating model to the nuances of the institution and most impactful areas of focus. The base model relies on a three-tiered conceptualization of service – the constituent digital experience, connected via self-service case creation and management to the integrated support services layer and via self-service transactions to centers of excellence across administrative support areas.


Sample Higher Education Constituent-Centric Operating Model

Getting started is straightforward. We outline the current state to understand where work is being done then distribute a survey to managers, or managers and staff, to obtain work hours. From this survey, we obtain an approximation of the demand and effort associated with administrative work, along with a mapping of where that work is being performed. Having established a set of stakeholder personas in parallel, we convene a workshop to discuss the current state and consider a constituent-centric model for the future self-service, full-service, organizational options and business impact. Predicated on your priorities (driven by institutional value and readiness to change) we co-develop a roadmap and action plan, inclusive of a quantitative business case.

Conviction and Commitment – How is A&M Different?


A&M is not a traditional strategy consulting firm or technology solution integrator. A&M's culture stems from decades of support for complex, urgent, "make or break" deals, transactions and projects. The higher education practice is driven by the intensity in our DNA to provide a differentiated, focused set of services in higher education. The core services A&M provides to the sector are:


A&M Higher Education Offerings

A&M rapidly assesses efficiency, spots redundancies and takes action to improve cost and service. Unlike other firms, we don't need to reinvent the wheel when looking for operational synergies and posing workable solutions. And, we don't need years and years to achieve results. We bring our blend of financial, operations and HR savvy senior staff to your site to actively co-lead your process of transformation. Our teams already understand higher education operating models and transaction processing in depth – we won't need to tease things apart on your nickel. And we won't spend weeks developing inventories of pain points. You already know them, and so do we. Beyond analysis, A&M brings an intensity of focus with an incisive value mindset to implementation. Our teams meld with client organizations to take responsibility for enacting and stewarding change, actively assisting with the transition to new organizational structures, business processes and technologies. We view your bottom-line results and return of value to the mission as our primary reward for work well done.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.