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Business Officer Magazine
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Restructuring Helps Spur Analytics Dashboard

Spotlight: Research Universities, from "Business Briefs" department in June 2010 issue of Business Officer

By Laura Gast and Ken Orr

At the Ohio State University, concerns about faculty retirements gave urgency to addressing the growing frustration that basic information about faculty was not easily accessible to colleges and departments. Not only was data not available; what did exist was managed by multiple offices. A faculty data workgroup was tasked with figuring out a way to aggregate data and create a simple, flexible tool to support college and departmental leadership in faculty talent management. The result was a Faculty Analytics Dashboard, which has been extremely useful for performing trend analysis, diversity planning, retirement projections, and other decision-making activities. (For the full story, read “Managing Faculty Talent,” in the May 2010 issue of Business Officer.)

Another driver in the creation of the dashboard was our organization's desire to become a more strategic partner with our university customers (students, parents, faculty, administrators, and so on) instead of a simple service provider. Our ultimate goal was to launch a comprehensive Ohio State Talent Strategy to transform the university into a high-performance culture and strengthen problem-solving capabilities.

To support this effort, the consulting functions within the human resources office reorganized into a new structure designed to offer each customer a dedicated team of experts for more strategic and proactive consulting. The new unit—organization and human resource consulting (OHRC)—has made our office more effective and efficient while more closely aligning us with the university's overall academic goals and its strategy to become an employer of choice.

Four-Focus Framework

The restructuring called for the formation of four teams populated with personnel from each of the expertise areas that service specific colleges and support units: talent management, learning and development, employee and labor relations, and organization development. The objectives for this included several practical actions:

  • Break out of established silos.
  • Maximize efficiencies and effectiveness in the work.
  • Eliminate duplication of efforts.
  • Use a single lens to approach problem-solving issues.

The OHRC has achieved some success as a result of the changes. Consultant teams with a representative from each area conduct ongoing strategy discussions around a customer's needs, building awareness of interrelated issues. If the team, for example, is working with a university department senior leader to implement a substantial change, the team's employee relations consultant might identify key barriers in the department related to management skills that could likely impact the success of the change effort. The learning and development consultant may report being asked to provide management training, while the talent management consultant has received inquiries from several managers on how to deal with staff retention problems. Sharing such interrelated issues with the entire team allows for concerted action and likely solutions. If each consultant had continued to work in an established silo, he or she could have easily duplicated and influenced others' work, affecting the customer's satisfaction and the effort's results.

Strategic Support

The newly formed OHRC recognized the need for a set of integrated information to use as an executive summary to present to a unit's leadership to help engage conversations about how OHRC could best help and support the unit and its strategic objectives. As we thought about what an effective executive summary would look like, we considered many options and landed on the dashboard concept. After working on our initial proof of concept, we ultimately chose the dashboard, which has proven to be a valuable tool not only for managing talent but for making other important decisions.

SUBMITTED BY Laura Gast, senior research consultant, and Ken Orr, resource planning analyst, the Ohio State University