2019-2024 Strategic Plan

Goal 6: Operational Excellence

Implement operational efficiency and effectiveness measures that continuously support a culture of high performance at all levels of the university.

Auburn University will continue to demonstrate excellent stewardship of its physical, human, and financial resources. We are fortunate to have generous donors and strong support from the state of Alabama. Nevertheless, we must continue to seize every opportunity to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Certain actions, if well executed, result in higher levels of operational excellence. In our quest for operational excellence, we must be careful not to degrade campus collegiality. Potential opportunities to achieve operational excellence are described below.

Increased Collaboration.
A means to achieve operational excellence is to collaborate rather than compete. We are all on the same Auburn team and working toward shared goals. We must work across intra-organizational boundaries to achieve operational excellence. This means that units must often share or pool resources, including increased centralization of some functions.

Public-Private Partnerships.
Opportunities to partner with private enterprise to better accomplish the goals of the university should be evaluated. Such partnerships allow the university and private partners to achieve synergy through leveraging the advantages—for Auburn, its assets and brand—that each party brings to the partnerships.

Technology Application.
Technology is often a key driver of operational excellence. Every opportunity will be taken to apply technology in a smart and cost-justified manner to better support core research and operational functions.

Sustainable Budget Models.
Auburn University is committed to sustainable budget models and associated budget systems that support growth in income, especially from diversified sources. Our aims are to:

  • Ensure transparency and provide financial information to enable our faculty and administrators to make well-informed decisions.
  • Ensure all major initiatives and funding decisions are supported by high quality strategic and financial planning.
  • Encourage more agile, risk-informed decision-making.

Overhead Cost Reduction.
Every effort will be made to reduce overhead costs. This reduction provides an opportunity (1) to reflect strategically about long-term investments, operations, and resources and (2) to set priorities and free up resources for them.

Administrative Overburden Elimination.
Burdensome policies, practices, and procedures that provide little benefit and often sap institutional energy will be reviewed and revised to balance proper controls with compliance costs.

Centralizing functions is a common means of achieving operational excellence through the elimination of redundancy and consistent application of policy and practices. SOURCING. Functions and processes not core to the university’s mission should be considered for procurement from a third party. (Conversely, functions and processes core to the university’s mission that are currently provided by a third party should be considered for accomplishment with internal resources.) The intent is to focus the university on strategic activities, where it is critical to excel. Strategic focus and alignment are the key criteria. Properly executed, appropriate internal/ external sourcing enhances flexibility; improves outcomes and cuts costs; is seamless/invisible, and; considers the impact on employees and other stakeholders.

Auburn’s land-grant mission calls on us to improve the environmental, economic, societal, and individual conditions of people in Alabama and beyond. We will leverage our commitment to these four pillars of sustainability to transform global challenges into drivers for innovation and transformation. Where cost-effective and practicable, policies, practices, and procedures will incorporate the principles of sustainability.

Reduced Regulation.
Some opportunities might exist at both the state and federal levels to revise regulations that impede operational excellence. This includes the imposition of unfunded federal mandates.

Deferred Maintenance and Renovation.
Auburn University will evaluate and prioritize a growing backlog of deferred building maintenance and renovation to ensure the benefits of deferral does not entail greater costs for the university in the future.

Increased Training.
Training and professional development are needed in some areas to appropriately skill staff to execute their functions properly.

Data Sheet
Last updated: October 25, 2019