Our client’s need
A consortium of five private, liberal arts colleges was participating in course reciprocity but wanted to analyze the feasibility of sharing services in non-academic areas including information technology, business operations, facilities management, and human resources.
Baker Tilly solution
The analysis conducted as part of this process tested the appetite and capacity for organizational change. A critical result of this effort was thoughtful discussion and reflection on the various models available to manage core infrastructure and business operations in a manner that optimizes economies, improves efficiencies, and reduces overall expenditures in non-academic and non-direct student service areas. It was evident the individual institutions had not embraced the consolidation/shared service initiative as a priority, so the approach taken was primarily based on an evolutionary (vs revolutionary) model of collaboration with an emphasis on shared service options.
Next steps included:
- Discussion of evolutionary approach based on willingness rankings within discrete functional areas
- Detailed analysis of the costs and benefits of sharing business and administrative services including: purchasing, financial management and reporting, human resources, legal counsel, risk management, and information technology
- Feasibility analysis based on three alternatives for providing each service, including (1) service provision by a separate entity of the consortium, (2) service provision by one of the five member institutions, and (3) outsourcing the service to a private third party outside the consortium
- Outlined potential impacts and barriers to shared services approaches within each functional area
Of sixteen potential areas identified, ten were deemed as feasible. Potential cost savings within these feasible areas ranged from $5,000 to $674,000. Shared service models for the data center and the print operations had significant potential fiscal impact (up to $1.1 million) but were deemed not feasible by the project Steering Committee. In the end, significant changes in top leadership stymied service consolidation efforts. While a true consolidation of operations did not occur, the colleges continue to work to enhance their collaboration through additional shared services.