In the move to shared services, the process of standardizing technology platforms and business practices can get mired in endless deliberation. Higher education’s consensus-driven culture can unnecessarily slow decision making, and the desire for institutional autonomy prevents some systems from adopting standard business processes.
But you can encourage groups to make a final decision on process standardization by incorporating external motivators and urgency into shared services initiatives.
For example, the Nevada System of Higher Education wrote a Decision Charter that delineates system- and campus-level roles in the creation of shared services. Campuses send representatives to vote on business processes, and if the group of representatives cannot come to consensus, senior leaders or the shared services project director will make the final decision. This trigger encourages the campuses to work together to identify a solution so that they maintain control over the process.
Similarly, the University of California (UC) wanted to reach consensus in their business process standardization efforts, but they did not want implementation groups to delay until their members reached unanimous agreement. Instead, university leadership determined that 70% majorities would be sufficient to move forward with a decision. If the process standardization group could not reach 70%, a more senior group of finance, administration, and IT leaders resolved the disagreement and made the final decision. With this decision process, the UC system standardized 99 business practices in eight months.