Vice President for Finance & Administration's 2019 DFA Annual Meeting Message

Division of Finance & Administration colleagues:

On Tuesday, August 13, over 400 division employees gathered for our annual meeting and awards ceremony. We came together to celebrate the progress we have made toward reaching our shared goals and to honor some of those who have made it happen.

As President Ray noted in his opening remarks that day, everything we do in the Division of Finance and Administration is in support of OSU’s mission…and the success of our students, researchers and faculty depends on us. Therefore, our core goals—providing great Service, the responsible Stewardship of our resources, and protecting the Safety & Health of the community—remain our foundational focus.

Exactly how we accomplish these is important, and we can look to the values that we share across the OSU community for guidance as we approach our work. Accountability. Diversity. Integrity. Respect. Social responsibility. When we adhere to these common values, we build a more open and collaborative culture where we can all contribute our expertise and ideas.

I have seen how the people in our division—YOU—express these shared values in your daily work. I want to highlight three people in particular who exemplify the Beaver spirit. These individuals are making a difference in people’s lives, operating with a collaborative mindset, and showing the confidence required to solve OSU’s most pressing problems. Nominated by their colleagues, these three DFA employees have been selected to appear in the university’s new marketing campaign, which includes the banners you see throughout the community.

  • Kevin Christman, Trades Maintenance Coordinator in Facilities Services
  • Alex Sims, Senior Payment & Systems Manager in PCMM,
  • Edi Smith, Grounds Maintenance Worker in Facilities Services

We are proud of the ways Edi, Kevin and Alex represent the Division of Finance and Administration with their innovation, positive spirit, and integrity! Congratulations on being selected for this honor!

As I talked about at last year’s event, we in the Division of Finance and Administration are not allowing long-running problems to be ignored. We are not continuing to kick the proverbial cans down the road. Instead, we are picking them up and dealing with them—working through our challenges together and developing creative, holistic solutions. For example:

  • We are working with Pacific Power to improve the safety and reliability of the electrical grid.
  • We are working to develop and implement a talent management system to make OSU a more attractive and rewarding place to work.
  • We are implementing protocols to better understand and control our administrative costs.
  • And, we made the hard choice to set aside substantial operating funds to leverage state funding and philanthropy to address our deferred maintenance backlog that is a barrier to our continued success.

I have also been talking about our need for a better way to measure how we are doing in our efforts to support the university mission. We have a lot of great stories to tell and it’s clear we are all busy doing important work. But it is harder to gain holistic, objective, and measurable insights into how well we are supporting the teaching, research, and outreach and engagement mission of the university.

  • Can we make our processes easier to navigate?
  • Can we more effectively utilize our scarce resources?
  • Can we establish a more dynamic and rewarding career path for our employees?
  • Can we better ensure the safety and health of our students, faculty and staff?

We have been taking important steps to answer these questions. Like taking on the Beaver Works business operations improvement effort, and joining with universities across the nation to analyze and compare our administrative costs and share ideas for efficiencies.

To more directly get at the “How are we doing” question, we have embarked on what we are calling our Framework for Success project. You may remember me talking about this last year. The Framework for Success is a process we are developing collectively as a division, to make sure we are focusing our efforts to most effectively and efficiently support the university’s mission

Teaming with OSU professor Dr. Javier Calvo-Amodio and his graduate researchers, the division’s senior leadership team, together with all unit directors and managers, have been developing the Framework for Success. We started by creating a set of guiding principles. Derived from our university core values, these guiding principles remind us of the big picture behind our goals and are the touchstone for our decision-making.

These guiding principles are intentionally framed within the university’s core values to signify the importance of our values in everything we do. Our DFA guiding principles, which are listed in bold, are accompanied by their expected outcomes:

  • Structured and inclusive decision-making generates effective results.
  • Clear and transparent communication conveys and confirms intent and respect for all stakeholders.
  • Process consistency, balanced with flexibility improves efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Community safety and respect for its members embodies our core values, and enables our mission.
  • Active stewardship of resources ensures the long-term success of the university.
  • Assessing and managing risk balances innovation and compliance.
  • And, clearly defined and integrated policies, standards and processes, coupled with appropriately delegated authority that removes institutional bias empowers employees, and improves the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

We believe these represent the principles to which we must adhere in order to most effectively support the university’s mission and strategic plan. However, they are not written in stone… As we continue through the Framework project and we start to test things out in the real world, we may further refine these principles. It is important that the leadership team hears from you as we implement the Framework. This will help ensure that these guiding principles capture the essence of who we are, and what we have set out to accomplish.

With the guiding principles in place, the next step in the Framework for Success project is the creation of Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. These are broad categories that define the things we all agree are important across the division—the things we want to pay attention to. Key performance indicators allow us to speak a common language, despite our vastly different jobs. The KPIs established so far by the leadership team are:

  • People
  • Operational Excellence
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Safety
  • Infrastructure
  • Financial Stability
  • Risk
  • Innovation

Whether we work in Facilities, Human Resources or Accounting, we all care about our impacts on people and we all want to be sure we are contributing to the success of the university. We might be measuring different activities, but the work we do, in every unit, will have an impact on these KPIs. Having a common set of KPIs will allow us to show the progress we are making and answer the “how we are doing” question.

Soon, our project manager, Heather Riney, and Dr. Amodio will begin working with each unit in the Division to define metrics that make sense for your work. Metrics are what we will specifically measure to gauge how we are doing in a given area. Since all the metrics will align with at least one KPI, it will be possible for us to compile all our wide-ranging metrics into a cohesive picture of performance for the whole division.

At that point, we will be able to establish a routine of continual improvement, shaping what we do and how we do it to perform better and better over time. We expect this work on developing the Framework for Success will take us through the end of the fiscal year.

As a compliment to the guiding principles, KPIs, and metrics, the DFA leadership team has also been working closely with the Office of Audit, Risk and Compliance to develop a set of university risk statements and risk assessment tools. The goal is to empower employees at every level of our organization to make appropriate and informed decisions. Decisions that incorporate best practices and consider the circumstances and needs of all impacted stakeholders. Taken together, these tools and guidelines should allow us to be more responsive to the needs of the university community. To balance flexibility with strong boundaries, where they are needed, to efficiently minimize risk to OSU and our people.

Shifting gears a bit, I want to take a moment to address our current DFA Strategic Plan and the six initiatives we committed to focus on between 2017 and 2019. The DFA senior leadership team and I are engaging in a series of discussions to assess where we are in relation to those initiatives, and how our division can best support the actions outlined in OSU’s Strategic Plan 4.0 going forward.

In the meantime, we will continue our work on these initiatives, which are to:

  • clarify our policies and processes,
  • encourage diversity, respect and inclusiveness among people,
  • plan for OSU’s long-term future,
  • develop supportive infrastructure for students and faculty,
  • actively pursue training and professional development opportunities, and
  • ensure the safety of our people and be prepared for emergencies.

I want to thank all of you for the work you have done to make progress on all of these initiatives. The concepts we are developing in the Framework for Success, and the metrics and data analysis we will get from it in the end, will help us to address these initiatives and others into the future. We will also be better able to focus our efforts and resources on what is important.

Tuesday’s DFA annual meeting was a time to take stock of the work we have done over the last year, and to celebrate our accomplishments. There were more than 50 people in the audience who were nominated for a division employee award this year. This is a record-setting number, and we encourage you all to nominate your colleagues when you see them going above and beyond expectations. We are working on ways to make nominating easier than ever in the future.

During the event, we announced the 2019 DFA award winners and recognized the incredible work they do. We should all look to the award winners for inspiration in our own day-to-day actions.

I also want to thank each of you for your hard work and dedication. Together we will continue our work in support of the university’s mission and goals. Together we will continue to benchmark our performance against our peers to see where we can do better. Together we will apply new best practices and incorporate more effective methods, tools and technologies into our work. And, together we will continue to develop finance and administration processes and practices that set up OSU to be a leading research university in the 21st century.

Thank you for being on our team.