Please see FAQs for staff below.
To see student specific FAQs, please visit the FAQs for students page.
As the project progresses this will be updated. If you have a question or would like to give us feedback please contact us.
The business case refers to transition staff. Where will this pool of staff come from?
There are two types of transitional staff related to the business case. The first would be those appointed to complete a specific activity, and the second would be those included in some of the new services.
In the second instance, these staff would provide additional resources to services as they are set up and become operational (in some cases the business case proposes having transitional staff in place for three years). The proposals in the business case are expected to take five years to fully implement. The Steering Group are committed to having enhanced staffing levels during the transitional period to ensure that additional resources are in place to deal with any unforeseen issues, and to support business as usual activities. We think transitional staffing roles may be of interest to staff considering voluntary severance as this may mean they would have a longer period of notice before their employment ends. These positions may also be of interest to staff who are currently employed on a fixed term basis.
I keep hearing that what is in the business case is different to what was implemented at Auckland and Melbourne. What are some key differences?
The University of Auckland review, Faculty Administration Review (FAR) focused solely on academic divisions and did not include service divisions. The University of Auckland also established 'hubs' for the provision of services within each faculty, and each faculty retained responsibility and authority for the management of their own hub. Staff providing support to academic departments were removed from departments and physically located in each faculty hub.
The SSR business case proposes changes to the entire university. Shared Services would be centrally managed and staff providing support to departments would be physically embedded within departments.
When the University of Melbourne implemented shared services all that remained in the functional areas was at a strategic level. Advisory and value-add services were included as part of their shared services. The administration function has not been included as part of shared services at the University of Melbourne.
The SSR business case proposes that advisory services e.g. Divisional HR Managers and Research Advisors, would remain part of the functional area (current service divisions).
Administration is proposed to be part of shared services at Otago. Some administrative staff would be located physically together, while others would be embedded within departments to provide support to academics and managers where it is needed.
Are current fixed term staff included in the proposed 182 FTE staff reduction?
Yes - the 182 FTE proposed staff reduction is from total current staffing levels.
When will I be able to ask for voluntary redundancy?
When the Vice-Chancellor advises the Steering Group’s decisions, expected to be mid-September, we would seek expressions of interest for voluntary redundancy. Voluntary redundancy would be open to all permanent staff working in an area that is in-scope.
Full details about the voluntary redundancy process would be available mid-September. It is important that people realise this is an application process which means expressions of interest would be considered for approval. Voluntary redundancy is not automatically given to staff who request it.
What is meant by the consequential items statement on page 178 of the business case relating to the Graduate Research School?
The business case proposes a number of changes to scholarships administration and doctoral administration. Based on the scale of these changes, the project team raised the notion that further changes within the Graduate Research School may be required. With the exception of the proposed changes mentioned above, the Steering Group did not endorse further changes in this area (as outlined in the Consequential Items section).
The business case identifies space savings of 7000m². Is that similar to any current buildings on campus?
7000m² is equivalent to the Adams Building in the Health Sciences’ Precinct, and is slightly greater than the Microbiology Building.
Who are the members of the SSR Steering Group?
The SSR Steering Group has the same membership as the Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group (VCAG). Information about VCAG can be found on the University of Otago Council website.
What does the endorsement of the optional enhancements in the Marketing and Communications section mean?
The endorsement of the optional Marketing and Communications enhancements (pg125) highlights that the Steering Group viewed these specialist resources as essential rather than optional. If this proposal proceeds, these enhancements would be included in the Marketing and Communications service.
How are we supposed to prepare our department budget when we don’t know what change is going to occur?
Budgets should be prepared in the usual manner based on what is known now. It is appreciated that any staffing changes would impact on budgets however this is unavoidable and in the circumstances, acceptable.
Is there any information about what the changes will mean to departmental budgets?
Information relating to funding of new services is contained within the business case. The implications on budget allocations are still being worked through and will not be able to be finalised until the business case is approved. The cost of all change activities would be funded centrally.
What is the timetable for the consultation process?
The six week consultation period commenced on 14 July 2017. Staff are invited to make submissions about the business case and these should be made by the close of the consultation period on Friday 25 August 2017.
The SSR Steering Group and a panel of professional and academic staff will review all submissions. The panel will summarise key themes and identify items for consideration by the project team, and for final approval by the Steering Group.
The Steering Group anticipates being in a position to communicate with the University community again mid-September 2017.
Who are the members of the submission review panel?
- Associate Professor Sarah Young, HoD, Department of Pathology (Panel Chair)
- Professor Nicola Peart, Faculty of Law
- Professor Keith Gordon, Department of Chemistry
- Phillip Kane, Business & Operations Manager, Dean’s Department, University of Otago, Wellington
- Graeme Quinn, Financial Controller, Financial Services Division
- Andrea Howard, Director, Policy and Programmes, Health Sciences Division
What involvement have the Academic and General Staff Advisory Groups had into the process and the development of the business case?
In the initial phase of the SSR the Academic Advisory Group and the General Staff Advisory Group had their own meetings with the Executive Sponsor and the Change Manager.
In recent months the advisory groups have had joint meetings where members of the project team presented their ideas about the services contained in the business case. Members of the advisory groups provided feedback to project team members at these meetings and their contributions were considered during the design of solutions.
Who do I go to with my specific concerns?
Staff can speak with their Head of Department or Manager. Members of the Steering Group are available and you can also contact Carolyn King, Change Manager.
Staff can also access personal support through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) and the services provided by the Occupational Health team within Health & Safety.
How will you keep me updated?
Regular communications will continue and will likely increase in frequency as we embark upon Management of Change and transition processes. All questions are welcome and can be directed through 'Have your Say' form or via your Head of Department or Manager.
The website will be regularly updated and we will alert staff to new FAQs as they are posted.
Can staff see organisation charts?
At this stage organisation charts are in draft form for the purpose of developing the business case and are not available during this period of consultation. The business case and the services proposed within it represent a fundamental change to the way the University of Otago would undertake activities in the future. As this would impact the entire organisation it is critical that we consult with all staff about this proposed new operating model.
When the consultation period ends the Steering Group will consider staff submissions, decide what should be implemented and communicate this to staff. Steering Group genuinely seek feedback and do expect that feedback received will inform and influence what is ultimately approved for implementation.
Soon after decisions are communicated management of change processes would commence and organisation charts would be provided to staff as part of the management of change documentation.
Will the events service manage graduations?
The graduation ceremonies held in the Dunedin Town Hall would be run by staff within the student life cycle service. Other social functions associated with graduation would be managed by the proposed events service.
Reading the business case I can’t identify where Campus Temps would be – can you clarify?
Campus Temps would be part of the Operations area within Shared Services.
The business case refers to functional activities and shared services. What do these terms mean?
Functional refers to the activities led by the Directors of discipline specific areas e.g. Director of HR and Chief Financial Officer. Functional activities are typically strategic and/ advisory.
Shared Services is a hybrid support model that results in the provision of services by one part of an organisation where previously those services would have been supported by staff in more than one part of the organisation. Whilst there are many ways of approaching shared services, the business case recommends the establishment of a Shared Services unit responsible for providing operation and transactional services across a range of functions (Facilities, IT, Finance, HR, Student Life Cycle and Administration) plus the establishment of a contact centre for staff and student enquiries.
How do the ratios for administrative staff relate to individual Departments?
The ratios for administrative staff have been applied University-wide and would not be expected that they would be applied strictly at School/Department level in a formulaic way. Although the ratios would provide an equitable starting point, there would be flexibility for divisional and departmental admin support to be provided differentially based on the particular needs of a department.
How will the services outlined in the business case be funded?
The business case makes recommendations regarding funding of services and the vast majority are recommended to be funded via the top slice mechanism. Discussion regarding implications for the funding allocation system are found in section 3.16.7 of the business case, page 179.
I think Table 84: Application of Organisational Structure, Property Services on page 165 of the business case might be incorrect as it details the Chief Operating Office is responsible for both management and governance.
Yes, the table is incorrect. The table should reflect the Director of Infrastructure having responsibility for the management of the property management, energy management, compliance and asset management functions.
When is the business case being delivered to Steering Group?
The business case was delivered to members of the Steering Group on Thursday 25 May 2017.
What will happen next?
The Steering Group will review the business case in a series of scheduled meetings commencing mid-June. We are hopeful that we will be able to provide an update to all staff in July.
How much consultation will there be?
Assuming the Steering Group agree with the proposals in the Business Case, there will then be consultation regarding these. Staff would have the opportunity to provide written submissions regarding any proposed changes. Following this consultation, the Steering Group will consider the submissions and any decisions would then be communicated to staff. Management of Change (MoC) processes (if necessary) would follow and these would inform individuals about the potential impact on roles.
Will I have to apply for my job?
The answer to this will vary depending on the nature of your current position. In any Management of Change (MoC) process there are a number of scenarios dependent upon the amount of change to current positions. Some positions would not change at all, some may change in a minor way while others may be significantly affected. If you would like more information about the MoC scenarios please speak with your Divisional HR Manager or HR Advisor.
What opportunities will there be during consultation to find out information?
There will be many opportunities for staff to engage in a variety of ways during consultation. This will be finalised when the extent of changes approved by the Steering Group is known.
What is the timeline for implementation?
At the recent Shared Services Staff forums held in April 2017, it was stated that while full implementation of some items detailed in the business case would take a number of years, we would want to complete any Management of Change (MoC) process, i.e. changes to structure and roles, in two tranches. We anticipate that tranche 1 would be completed before the end of 2017 and would result in appointments at director and manager level. This would ensure newly appointed leaders have the opportunity to support implementation and be involved in the selection of their staff where they have vacancies to fill. As some roles would not change (see above question 'Will I have to apply for my job'), incumbents would be confirmed into these positions. We would envisage confirming staff into all unchanged roles before the end of 2017.
Tranche 2 would commence in March 2018, and would result in appointments made for the remaining positions. Taking the two-tranche approach would allow staff considering new opportunities to know who their new manager would be. It would also provide time for staff to better understand what shared services is and carefully consider whether this is an environment that they would want to work in.
When will I know if I have a job or not?
Assuming that there are no delays with the Steering Group’s consideration of the Business Case, all staff whose roles remain substantially unchanged will receive confirmation of their continued employment before the end of 2017. Any changes to roles at director and manager level will also be completed before the end of 2017. All other changes would be completed by the end of June 2018.
How we will keep the University operating when people are working through changes?
Steering Group have considered this and are committed to retaining as many fixed term and transitional staff as required to ensure the University continues to support students and staff, while giving individuals sufficient time and support to consider their options.
Will voluntary redundancy be an option for staff?
Yes, staff will be invited to express interest in voluntary redundancy which would be considered and approved (or not) by the University. The University has great professional staff and we would need to consider whether it makes sense to release staff who have demonstrated that they have the skills and attributes we would wish to retain.
Will fixed term employment agreements be extended again?
We are unable to provide a definite answer to this question until after the Steering Group has considered the business case. However we consider it likely that some fixed term agreements will be extended, and if this is the case we would communicate this as soon as we can.
How will the University make sure changes made stick so that we don’t need another SSR in a few years?
It will be important that any changes approved for implementation are embedded effectively and continue to be monitored. The shared services model provides mechanisms for feedback and governance which would identify areas for improvement. This together with standardised processes and services should mean that we are able to adapt more readily, and make ongoing incremental change rather than requiring another significant review.
I thought HR was out of scope?
While the HR Division itself is not in scope, there are HR functions in scope for the Support Services Review. When the SSR was launched in September 2015 the following broad functions were noted for review during Phase 1, Research and Scoping: administration, IT, finance, marketing and human resources.
On 12 May 2016 the Vice-Chancellor confirmed the functions in scope for Phase 2, Solution Design. This included two specific HR activities: managed staff recruitment and professional development and training for staff. Full details of the functions in scope for Phase 2 were provided on 25 May 2016:
In addition, there are a number of positions within the HR Division that have elements of administration, IT, finance, marketing and human resources activities within them, which brings these roles into the scope of the SSR and the Shared Services model.
Why is Property Services now in scope?
Initially the decision was taken to leave Property Services out of scope because having it in-scope was viewed as too much of a risk to the large volume of upcoming capital development. In the intervening period, capital projects was split off from Property Services and so the Steering Group asked the SSR to consider how the work undertaken in Property Services would fit within a shared services model. To date, considerations regarding Property Services has been limited to how the Division’s structure, existing and new focus areas would best fit within a shared services model.
When will “Working during periods of change – flexibility and adaptable thinking training” be held in 2017?
Training will commence in February 2017 and dates and venues for the staff programmes can be found via the registration page.
HoDs and Directors and Managers of Service Divisions who have not yet attended the manager programme will be advised dates and venues for 2017.
What support is available for staff now?
Staff can access the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) via the Human Resources website.
There are a number of courses currently offered by the Professional Development team that staff may find useful. A new programme has been developed “How are you feeling during times of change: circles of support, control, influence and concern”.
Will there be job losses at the end of the Support Services Review?
As detailed in the Vice-Chancellors Update for Staff the Steering Group will receive business cases and decisions will then be made about how best to proceed. Implementation would follow and may result in changes to one or more of policies, processes, systems and organisational structure. Only when this work is completed will we be able to be clear about how this will impact roles. It is likely that there will be a reduction in staffing however we are trying to mitigate this by using fixed-term appointments during this period.
Is Otago alone amongst Australasian universities in undertaking a major review of support services?
No. Monash, Auckland, ANU, Melbourne and LaTrobe have all gone through major exercises broadly equivalent to ours, and are now embedding the results of changes they have made. Sydney, Adelaide, the University of Western Australia, University of Queensland and Flinders are all – like Otago- in the design phase for potentially wide-ranging cross-functional changes. Universities in the US and UK have also implemented similar sorts of changes.
The Vice-Chancellor has said that that general staff are high calibre so why are you reviewing us?
The Support Services Review is not focusing on individual staff or performance. The review is considering how the University undertakes administrative and operational processes end-to-end across the organisation.
How will staff based outside Dunedin be able to engage with the project team?
The project team have arranged initial workshops for staff based in Christchurch and Wellington in consultation with the Business and Operations Managers in those locations. Further dates and topics for workshops will be communicated to staff in Christchurch and Wellington as they are arranged. The team will hold video conferences with staff in other locations as required. Staff visiting Dunedin will be given preferential placement at Dunedin workshops being held when they are in Dunedin on business.
Will staff be able to see the business cases before they are presented to the Steering Group?
Business cases will be presented to the Steering Group for review and consideration. A communication and consultation plan would then be developed taking into consideration the recommendations contained in the business cases and the impact those recommendations would have on roles within the organisation.
Who are the members of the academic and general staff advisory groups?
The membership of the academic and general staff advisory groups have been confirmed and can be viewed in the Updates section of the project website.
Can you tell us more about the people in the project team?
Brief biographies of the core project team are available in The Project Team section of the project website.
What is the purpose of the Support Services Review?
The purpose of the project is to undertake a review of administrative and operational processes that support academics in the achievement of their research and teaching goals.
What is the scope of the project?
The project will review all functions and processes undertaken by support staff in all divisions.
Why is this project being launched?
In recent months VCAG, the Vice-Chancellors Advisory Group has been considering what should happen to address our decreasing revenue, increased costs and static to reducing student numbers. In addition there is a strong desire to have available funds for strategic initiatives, including our building programme.
In recent years the University has grown significantly without an overarching plan as to how support services should be carried out. Therefore we can not be sure that we are as efficient as we can be and this project is being launched to carefully review how support services are provided.
What kinds of decisions will the Steering Group make?
There will be key points throughout the project when the Steering Group will be required to provide critical evaluation of work undertaken by the project team and provide direction for ongoing work. The steering group will make all key decisions about the delivery of services and any structural changes.
Who will lead the project?
All VCAG members form the Steering Group for this project and are responsible for governance of the project, particularly key decisions that will need to be made as the project progresses. Kevin Seales has been appointed as Executive Sponsor and will lead an operational project team who will engage directly with staff throughout the course of the project.
Who else is working on the project?
See a list of project team members. Many of you will be invited to work with the project team and engage in this review process.
What does the term Support Services mean?
Support Services is defined as all operational and administrative processes undertaken by general staff across the University.
How can staff be involved in the Support Services Review?
Staff are able to contribute their ideas, comments, make a suggestion and ask a question regarding the project using the Have your say section of the project website. There will also be high levels of engagement and consultation with staff across the University during the research phase of the project.