Provost's Blog: But...We've Always Done It This Way
Posted on February 4, 2016 by Rick Koubek, Executive Vice President and Provost; Professor of Industrial Engineering
For obvious reasons, I have taken the time to study our budget--all 593 pages. Working through the document and all its details, two prevailing thoughts hit home. First, our campus operating budget is about half a billion dollars per year. That’s a big number. If people are investing half a billion dollars per year in what we do, there is a lot riding on how well we succeed. Second, we spend about 75 percent of our budget on payroll. We certainly invest in LSU’s physical plant and infrastructure, but the lion’s share of LSU’s budget each year is spent on people.
For LSU to truly fulfill our mission, we need to increasingly spend more of our time on the work that makes a difference, and less in the “other” category.
For starters, it’s time for LSU to reshape our use of technology. Championing this cause are our colleagues in Finance and Administration. They have taken on the herculean task of transitioning LSU’s financial and human resources system to a new enterprise resource planning system called Workday. LSU Workday will significantly streamline the bureaucracy we deal with daily. While working hard behind the scenes now, it’s all hands on deck when the group rolls out this new platform over the summer. Concurrently, Human Resources will soon introduce a tool called Digital Measures to help faculty avoid the redundancy of activity reports in all their multiple formats. And the newly formed Administrative Process Improvement Committee (APIC), implemented at the excellent suggestion of our Faculty Senate, started meeting in September. To date they have addressed 24 concerns submitted by faculty and staff.
Which brings me back to my introductory point. For us to be good stewards of student tuition dollars, not only do we need to revisit how we handle our business affairs, but also our budget processes. Dan Layzell (our CFO) and I have asked administrative units and colleges to participate in a public budget and planning presentation. Each unit will be asked to provide an overview of their accomplishments, objectives, goals, budget and spending priorities. These presentations are scheduled for March 14 and 31. The forums are open and I encourage the campus community to attend.
Obviously, these new developments imply change. But, given our budget situation the tried and true response of, “we’ve always done it this way” will no longer work. If we are to truly be successful, we owe it to our constituents and ourselves to keep doing things better.
Over the coming months, we will ask the budget committee to further explore options and ideas to help us find efficiencies at LSU so we can reinvest in what matters. With the budget realities we may potentially find ourselves in, we have little choice.