SSC Empowering Staff to Make Change

Managing change can be tricky, especially in a department as large as the Shared Services Center (SSC). With over 230 employees, participating in Lean in Daily Work to generate problem-solving ideas, resources to bring new ideas to fruition are in high demand. This also poses the problem of prioritization for all of these requests. Faced with these issues at the SSC, they created the Change Validation Board (CVB) to streamline the change process. The SSC Director, Pam Gable, and all six of the SSC managers sit on the CVB. Mallory (MJ) Kwiatkowski is experienced in project management and manages the CVB at the SSC.

MJ coaches SSC employees, like Tenia Dewolf (supervisor of HR Data Management and HR Coordinator teams) and Margaret Erickson (HR Project Manager), through creating business cases for their CVB requests. When she arrived at the SSC, MJ was tasked with creating a standardized process for the CVB. Previously there had simply been a list of over two hundred requests with only one person approving or denying them. There was no way to track what had been done, and the process produced only a 3% completion rate. Today, the CVB process allows the SSC to  focus on fewer, higher impact ideas and to track and report on the results allowing them to report out the realized benefits to their governance council.

Here’s how the CVB process works. Typically, the process usually begins with an Everyday Lean Idea (ELI) on a team’s Lean in Daily Work board. Tenia and Margaret’s request actually started as a joint sponsored project between the SSC and University Human Resources (UHR). A request came through from central partners to improve the process and optimize self-service options. Once an ELI is written out or a problem is identified, four questions are applied to understand the impact:

  1. Would it be visible to the customer?
  2. Could it impact another SSC team?
  3. Does it need ITS resources?
  4. Does it impact a strategic partner?

If the answer to any of the four questions is yes, the change must go through manager review.

It was determined that Tenia and Margaret’s change had a large enough impact on customers, strategic partners, and ITS resources that it would need to be routed through the CVB. At this point, teams switch their request from a paper ELI form to a business case. Often times they also organize a project team to gather data and test their ideas out, which may include both SSC staff and partners from other impacted units. The HR project team Tenia and Margaret put together included Donna Jedele (HRIS Supervisor), Bonnie Chapin (Associate Director of HRRIS), and Kelli Szczepanski (Employment Team Supervisor). The HR project team chose to use the Sprint process to break up their project up into 4 main parts:

  1. Gather information
  2. Preparing for the CVB
  3. Testing before go live
  4. Implementation.

During step one, the HR project team created a business case with strong metrics and return on investment (ROI) reporting. MJ offers support to teams while they are creating their business cases. Project teams are often made up of associates within the SSC, who may not have experience putting together strong metrics or other components of a business case. All SSC business cases include the following:

  1. An executive summary
  2. Business problem (only what the problem is, not solutions)
  3. Proposed solution, scope, and boundaries (identify and describe the work that is included in the proposal)
  4. Justification (metrics, return on investment, customer impact, how it fits the business strategy, etc)
  5. Assumptions/constraints (the assumptions that the proposal is based on)
  6. Risks and dependencies (budget, scope, quality, etc. along with ways to mitigate the risks)
  7. Recommendations (a description of how the project will address the business problem, along with the how the effort is justified factoring in constraints, risks, and contingencies)
  8. Intended timeline
  9. Approved by/date
  10. Submission date

While building their business case the HR project team sought out feedback from those who would be most affected. They identified these individuals based on two questions: who were their key stakeholders and who does this impact downstream. Additionally during this step, the project team worked with ITS to construct a wireframe for the Eform they wanted to implement as part of their change. This allowed them to get a better understanding of what the final result would physically look like. It would also be helpful in their presentation during step two.

Once the business case for the CVB is complete, it is routed back to the team’s manager for review and approval. Once Tenia and Margaret’s business case received the stamp of approval, like all other business cases, it was officially sent to MJ as the Change Manager to put on the docket for the next CVB meeting. During this time teams are highly encouraged to practice their presentation and MJ provides additional feedback regarding presentation materials and slides to ensure they are clear and concise.

The project team presented their business case to the CVB on April 12th. CVB meetings are held weekly and are open for anyone at the SSC to sit in on. Each meeting has a standard agenda that MJ puts together before each meeting and is sent out to those attending. The HR project team uniquely invited all of the unit representatives to their presentation that would be affected by this change. LSA attended in person and Dearborn was able to call in. As questions arose during the presentation they are asked on the spot making for a very open dynamic environment. At the end of the meeting Pam and the managers either: ask the team to gather  additional information & return a later date, reject the case, or put the request to a vote for approval. If the request is put to a vote, Pam and the managers each fill out an evaluation form after the meeting. The cumulative score of these evaluations determine if the business case is approved, as well as the impact and priority of the request.

The HR project team’s business case was approved. They are currently working through testing and implementation steps. Once a request is approved, tested and implemented, the ELI and CVB business case are recorded in the Benefits Realization Tracker. The tracker includes a description of the original problem, description of the solution, time saved for staff and/or for our customers, cost savings, turnaround time to complete the project, the qualitative impacts, and whether or not it went through the change board.

The CVB has helped to streamline change at the SSC. It created a standard process for submitting a request and gaining approval for consistency and transparency across the organization. It also created a quantifiable method of prioritization allowing limited resources to be used more efficiently and effectively. It makes requests like Tenia, Margaret, Donna, Bonnie, and Kelli’s much more manageable.