The Challenge

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is one of Canada’s prominent, innovative research institution with a focus on community engagement. The focus of this engagement was centered around the Office of the Vice-President, Academic (OVPA) that provides leadership to all three campuses, eight faculties and several administrative units; all with the goal of providing an outstanding education for students as well as a productive research environment for faculty.

The Objectives

The responsibilities of the OVPA include oversight of academic planning, development of the annual budget for the departments under its purview, and academic hiring. Propel Solutions was engaged to assist with the review of their processes to identify opportunities for improvement to continue providing an outstanding level of service to students and faculty while preparing for growth. The project included the following:

  • Engaging Key Stakeholders including Executives, Deans and Administrative Staff across faculties and services units to conduct interviews to gather information on processes, opportunities and constraints.
  • Conducting cross-functional reviews of processes to uncover variances and identify opportunities to improve efficiency, align timelines, and improve the quality of the planning, budgeting and hiring activities.
  • Identifying opportunities to streamline activities, align resources, and strategically plan for the future.
  • Developing a detailed Change Management framework to facilitate the effective implementation of recommendations; and,
  • Conducting a review of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to ensure that management systems are responsive to the needs of students, staff and faculty, and capable of identifying and quantifying performance and capacity.

This project reviewed the planning, budgeting and hiring processes within the Vice-President, Academic’s portfolio and identified areas of opportunity to improve the flow of information between service areas and academic units. The project included conducting a robust consultation process with stakeholders within the VPA’s office as well all other VP portfolios. The review effectively engaged more than 45 key stakeholders and identified more than 100 opportunities that clarified roles and responsibilities, improved information flow, aligned processes, and to facilitate communication.

The Results

Propel Solutions presented recommendations that provided benefits to both the service areas and academic units for the purpose of driving a unified SFU forward. The key findings of the initiative allowed SFU to establish robust processes in planning and operations, which improved SFU’s ability to provide an outstanding level of service to students and faculty while preparing for future growth. The overarching project driver of creating alignment between the service areas and academic units within the VPA’s portfolio was achieved. This project ensured that SFU continues to fulfill its mission of excellence in teaching and research.

Stakeholders engaged
Opportunities Identified