In a forum held Wednesday, University of Wisconsin officials updated the campus community about various projects aimed at streamlining processes such as the time it takes to turn around mid-year room checkouts in University Housing.
Administrative Process Redesign, now it its fourth year at UW, began in 2007 and was initially brought together to look at the concept of shared services or hubs, Alice Gustafson, APR project leader said.
According to APR’s website, the hubs were work clusters of support staff that were supposed to make managing work among UW’s schools and colleges more efficient. After receiving feedback from the campus community, however, APR changed its goals to examine processes and staffing.
The Resident Checkout Process research team presented their goals and solutions at the campus forum as one of the divisions working within APR.
“[The Resident Checkout Process] is the current process we use for students who are moving out of the university residence halls who are either canceling their housing contract and leaving the university or who have elected to do a room change to another room,” David Swiderski, leader of the Resident Checkout Process research team, said.
According to Swiderski, the current process takes on average 23 days to complete from the time the student receives notification to the time the student has the bill or refund. The research team’s goal is to reduce this time to seven days.
To accomplish this goal, the research team wants to completely transfer the process away from paper to electronic workflow, Swiderski said.
According to Swiderski, 32 students who moved out of the residence halls or changed rooms and eight housing staff members were interviewed to gather the information needed to continue the project.
“[Our residents and staff] wanted a process that’s simple, they wanted a process that can be easily tracked, and they wanted a process that provided good information,” Swiderski said.
The lengthiest part of the current procedure – processing bills and refunds – takes six to nine days before the student can move out. Furthermore, Swiderski said the process is usually delayed at the end of the semester to account for any damage charges.
One cause of these delays is refund checks, which are batched to both the UW Division of Business Services and University Housing accounting staff, Swiderski said. By making all transactions electronic, the batching system will no longer be necessary.
If the program moves to online transactions, Swiderski said refund checks, which are currently only processed and mailed out once a week, will go directly to the student whenever their checkout is complete.
Another cause for delay is the transportation of paper documents between staff members through campus mail and paper checks to UW Housing in U.S. mail, Swiderski said.
“We spend a significant time… waiting for damage and core change charges and going through all these sub-processes for so few students holding up the whole,” Swiderski said.
Swiderski said the main core of the plan will be instituted by November, but the transition from paper to electronic transaction processing could take longer.
Despite the wait, Swiderski said changing the current procedure is the main goal.
“I think the most important point is we recognize that delays can impact student satisfaction, thereby negatively impacting future occupancy,” he said.