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Archive for Tuesday, April 26, 2011

KU hires consulting firm to help campuses spend less

April 26, 2011, 3:08 p.m. Updated April 26, 2011, 3:17 p.m.

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Kansas University will work with a consulting group to review its administrative practices and identify cost savings.

The contract with Huron Consulting Group is for up to $2.28 million if all its initiatives are implemented.

It will be paid for with private funds.

The contract also provides for additional rates to pursue more initiatives if KU desires.

Huron, which is based in Chicago, will have teams working with advisory committees on the Lawrence campus and at KU Medical Center.

Using savings from the process, KU officials say they hope to be able to invest in new priorities outlined in an ongoing strategic planning effort.

Huron expects to take about four months to identify options that would improve efficiencies. Implementation of the new initiatives could be in place by this summer.

Comments

toe 2 years, 11 months ago

I wonder what the students think of this idea? Tuition is starting to pay a larger percentage of University operations. Perhaps the Student Union President should form a student commission to study the use of tuition money.

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Sigmund 2 years, 11 months ago

My understanding that every single department and school manages their own networks which costs a ton of money. That if they turned all that over, including that part of their budgets, to a "University Networking" and consolidated their efforts, the University as a whole could do a lot more with a lot less. But no department is willing to do that because everyone reducing their budgets for the good of the University dilutes the power and prestige within their little fiefdoms.

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lawupsman 2 years, 11 months ago

the old joke on the hill: how many F&O(Facility and Operations) workers does it take to change a light bulb? 7...1 to hold the light bulb and 6 to rotate the ladder! Sorry couldn't resist!

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woodscolt 2 years, 11 months ago

For .28 mill I could have advised them on how to save 2 million. Probably a better percentage than the 2.28 will get them.

Ah, we should all just be a "consulting firm". Maybe KU could go on a "fact finding mission" next.

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Sigmund 2 years, 11 months ago

verity (anonymous) replies ... "That's already been done. Budgets have already been cut at the department level, giving the department chairman the job of figuring out the cuts."

Well practice makes perfect. Do it again, and again, and again until they make budget. It is what every other segment, other than government, does every day of the year and it isn't that hard.

verity (anonymous) replies ... "And "It is exactly the wealthy more productive departments need to sacrifice MORE not less than the less fortunate departments!"---I hope you're being sarcastic. You're trying to compare two unlikes and the analogy does not work."

Being more ironical that satirical. Don't you find it funny that the Academic world that has no problem telling every one else how to run their lives, businesses, and country, can't manage to balance a budget, something almost everyone of us do every single day?

Lately we are told by many in academics that those groups who have benefited most in society owe a greater percentage of their income to support those groups that have less. So why not apply that concept to the University? Those departments that have done best under past administrations need to contribute a higher percentage of their budgets to those departments who haven't done as well. Do you see a problem with asking them to practice what they preach? Why???

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verity 2 years, 11 months ago

Here's an idea. Talk to the people who actually do the work and know what's going on. It's the people in the trenches every day who can tell you where you can save money and be more efficient. But rarely do they ever get asked or listened to when they try to say something.

My experience with outside "efficiency" teams coming in is that they don't know what the %^&* is going on and they come up with stuff that is completely counter productive, and since they have to earn their pay, they tell the company/organization to get rid of people.

By the way, KU may not be able to fire people without cause, but they can lay people off and do so. Also, if you are unclassified, they can just not renew your contract. That's with staff, I don't know how it works with professors.

Laying off or otherwise getting rid of people doesn't necessarily make for more efficiency.

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Sigmund 2 years, 11 months ago

MyName (anonymous) replies… "Yes, because clearly every department deserves to be cut by an equal amount including the ones that continue to bring in more grant money or to attract more students."

It is exactly the wealthy more productive departments need to sacrifice MORE not less than the less fortunate departments! Or haven't you heard the current mantras of "social justice," "soak the rich," and "from each according to their ability, to each according to their need?" I assume that since this comes from the intellectual elite in our Universities, they will be willing to show the rest of society just how well that would work at the Universities.

Or you could simply ask each department to contribute equally in the burden.

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Sigmund 2 years, 11 months ago

Bob_Loblaw (anonymous) replies… "On a local note....I do believe Sprint brought in an axeman more than several years ago to do the same thing.....it meant cutting the middle-management fat in that scenario."

Not exactly. After Esery screwed the pooch with the Nextel "Merger of Equals," the BOD (Board of Directors) hired a new CEO (Dan Hesse) who brought in Steve Elfman (currently head of Network Operations) as a full time member of the management team. It was the upper management team that ended up slicing deeply into the middle management team, and properly so, not outside consultants.

But I am not so sure Kansas University needs to eliminate positions where they can, like administration, as opposed to tenured professors and faculty, which they are very restricted on doing. It is my understanding that overall there are huge saving to be made in the capital budget. Cutting that by 7% may keep the departments and schools from letting people go.

The major problem with KU, financially, is that they spent a huge amount of money for both capital and personnel to become a "research institution" which was meant to bring in lots of government grant money. That simply did not pan out and is unlikely to do in the near future. In the mean time they wasted their long time reputation as a "teaching institution." As a result they now are viewed as neither.

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nschwerm 2 years, 11 months ago

well you know what they say, you gotta spend money to save money... Oh wait I don't think thats how it goes.

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devobrun 2 years, 11 months ago

The more I thought about it, the more I came to a conclusion that KU is hiring the consultant to buffer themselves from lawsuits. The consultant is hired to advise KU regarding firing people. If they do their job well, then fired people draw the least unemployment and sue for less. If the consultant doesn't do the job well, then the blame goes to them and KU's liability is diminished. Either way, somebody sat down and figured the cost/benefit of hiring a middle man to do the firing and came up with a dollar amount that KU was willing to fork over to protect themselves. My guess is that the contract includes a clause of liability on the part of the consultant above some level for employee termination costs.

The consultant will, of course, be ruthless in defending themselves against unemployment and wrongful termination lawsuits. KU keeps its good name, the consultant is the bad guy, but they don't care. So this is protection from the shakedown (extortion) that comes from releasing employees.

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devobrun 2 years, 11 months ago

How do you save money? Fire people. Oh OK, let them go. Allow attrition to diminish the work force.
However it is done, KU saves money by paying fewer people less money. The consulting firm tells KU who to allow to go away, from where will they go away, and who will pick up the extra work.

It's H.R. time at KU.

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Sigmund 2 years, 11 months ago

Bob_Loblaw (anonymous) replies… "Wow....really.....that's interesting considering economic and financial consulting are key services for most consulting firms (often under the guise of restructuring or another such moniker):"

I have never heard of one of the fine firms listed setting a companies budget, unless they were bankrupt and ordered by a court. Setting budgets is on of the reason management is paid. Maybe we should just fire KU administration and hire the consultants.

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PugnaciousJayhawk 2 years, 11 months ago

Took Vitter long enough to find the funds. He's been pitching this idea of hiring a consultant to KU's big donors almost since he got here. All the ones that I know who turned him down on his request all were thinking along kuprof54's point in that individuals like Vitter and BGL shouldn't need to hire consultants to look around and figure out what to cut.

It's almost disgusting how poor the leadership is at KU.

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kuprof54 2 years, 11 months ago

Any business I've worked at, this is the responsibility of the business execs, i.e. Vitter and BGL. What do these people do? Hire a PR person (BGL's job) and now a consulting firm (Vitter's job) to tell them how to run the business of KU? Isn't that Vitter and BGL's job?

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Sigmund 2 years, 11 months ago

Bob_Loblaw (anonymous) says… "Businesses do this with outside firms all the time"

Really? Name one. I've worked for Fortune 100 companies and small family businesses of 20 or fewer. Not once did they ever hire a consulting firm to tell them where to trim the budget. That is what management does.

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Sigmund 2 years, 11 months ago

Kuku_Kansas (anonymous) says… "Oh, the irony..."

Beat me to it!

Here is an idea, dump the consultants and cut EVERY department and school's budget by 7%. Let the Deans and department heads decide where money would be best saved and hold them responsible for their decisions.

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Bob_Loblaw 2 years, 11 months ago

Businesses do this with outside firms all the time.....KU is just a business....it's selling a service. Having a PhD in the theory of business does not mean you have any practical experience or can see the forest for the trees.

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fabian_zimbabwe 2 years, 11 months ago

Didn't KU also fork over at least $100K for someone to suggest a trajan font for the "new" KU logo?

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KEITHMILES05 2 years, 11 months ago

How ridiculous! Hundreds and hundres of the most intelligent people in the state are TOO dumb to save money. Yes, the irony is pitiful!

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