Looking Ahead to FY20

In addition to continuing the projects initiated in FY19, a number of departments and cross-departmental teams have requested strategic planning support to occur in FY20. This includes requests for support from eCampus, Residence Life, and the Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative facilitated by the Department of Equity and Compliance. The PIT Crew also anticipates fulfilling requests for support that may arise from budget-driven changes to university structure or function.


With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Process Improvement & Training Crew is transitioning to the digital environment so it can continue its valuable work in facilitating needed changes at UAF.

Project Background

In AY19, UAF conducted a Strategic Enrollment Planning (SEP) process to develop specific action plans to achieve the goals articulated in the UAF Strategic Plan. One of the action plans created through this effort included a strategy to “form a Process Improvement and Training (PIT) Crew to look at the current new course/program approval process”. This action plan/PIT Crew project aims to increase the number of new courses being created, increase enrollment as courses will be created to meet current trends and demand, and modernize the student experience. 

In May 2019, PIT Crew convened a group of multidisciplinary faculty and staff to reflect upon the current new course and program approval process and identify strategies to improve performance of this system. The Alaskans Leading Program and Course Approvals (ALPACA) team has gathered a significant amount of information in an effort to better understand the history of and rationale for the current process and process constraints, and to strategize how to modify the process to improve function and results. Through weekly meetings and subcommittee work, the team has made progress towards creating a significantly improved system.

Project Dates

May 2019 - present

Project Background

Currently, the Graduate award (TAs and RAs) and financial aid allocation is not aligned. This misalignment results in limited ability to leverage RA and TA offers as competitive recruitment tools around the April 15the national graduate acceptance deadline, limited ability to compete for “best and brightest” graduate student applicant, student burden if late RA/TA award causes ineligibility for financial aid funding that has already been disbursed, and staff re-work with processing and posting financial aid awards when an RA/TA award has been made after financial aid has been process. 

The Graduate Award Process Efficiencies (GAPE) team has formed to align graduate award and financial aid processes through enhanced tools and technology-based supports, best practices/policy/procedural recommendations to departments and central administration and enhanced communication with students, faculty and staff.

Project Dates

June 2019 - Present

Project Background

With need for improvement of the graduate award and timeline process identified through both the Strategic Enrollment Planning process and the STAR Team’s work, project discovery was conducted in June 2019 to determine project goals and scope. Through the discovery practice, performance issues were identified throughout a multitude of processes currently impacting graduate student experience. Among these processes, intersection of the graduate award (Research and Teaching Assistantships) and the financial aid award process was identified as having a high level of readiness for change, significant system cost resulting from considerable re-work required in the current process and a clear start and end point to the process.

With further discovery planned to occur in FY20 for the other processes resident within the Graduate Award and Timeline project, the Financial Aid Award project kicked off in June 2019.

Project Dates

June 2019 - present

Project Background

Following an extended period of position vacancy, UAF hired a new Process Improvement Project Manager in March 2019. Onboarding this key process improvement leadership role kicked off a period of revitalization and investment in growing the number of members and capacity of the Process Improvement and Training (PIT) Crew. Professional Growth Systems, LLC, the organizational development consulting firm who developed the Process Advantage® methodology used by the PIT Crew, was contracted to provide training and development support to the PIT Crew’s five new and seven veteran members.

Through a series of in-person trainings and work sessions, the PIT Crew received professional development training to enhance skills around implementing the Process Advantage® approach including project discovery, process design and change implementation. Additionally, the PIT Crew partnered with PGS to develop a strategic plan to develop the infrastructure supporting the PIT Crew’s work including developing a more sophisticated project intake process and a train-the-trainer model to build capacity for future new member training.

Project Dates

March 2019 - present

Project Background

Initiated in May 2018, the STAR Team worked to improve the UAF scholarship process to increase user friendliness, streamline the award process, and increase UAF’s ability to strategically leverage scholarship funds, thereby increasing enrollment. Convening from May – December 2018, the STAR team’s collective effort enhanced staff literacy around the scholarship process, consolidated nine departmental scholarships into AcademicWorks, developed a communication plan for students and scholarship review committees, rebranded WUE for increased scholarship leveraging, reduced the number of steps needed for student application and staff application processing, developed a stronger institutional understanding of emergency scholarship needs and strategies to meet those needs. 

The STAR team also made recommendations for resolving several technical barriers and limiting institutional policies to further improve the scholarship process over time. Two of these recommendations have materialized in FY20. This includes implementing a single Emergency Scholarship awarding process and creating a process improvement team to improve the graduate student funding process.

Project Dates

May - December 2018



Project Background

Researchers have been frustrated by the amount of time and oversight involved in applying for a land use permit. Delays can disrupt field schedules, delaying research projects, expenditures, and indirect cost recovery. As the university’s budget shrinks, there are fewer resources available to spend on administrative processes. Administrative staff in UA Lands and UAF EHS&RM struggle to process permits quickly when information is missing; researchers often are not aware of resources and requirements for a complete permit application.

This project focused on clarifying and streamlining the permitting process from a research and administrative perspectives including:

  • analysis of the role/responsibility of the PI/researcher,
  • the role/responsibility and steps to process a permit within the UA Land Office,
  • and the role/responsibility and steps to process a permit within the UAF Environmental Health & Safety Office.
Project Dates

November 2015 - January 2017

The Business Case is complete and has been accepted by the steering committee for implementation. It is available HERE.

TRIP: Travel Representatives Improving Processes
TRIP Purpose

To provide UA travelers a streamlined, timely and positive travel experience through efficient, transparent and cost effective methods.

TRIP Dates

January 2013 - July 2016

TRIP Project Status

The TRIP team has presented their business case to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Financial Services, who has agreed to adopt their recommendations. As needed, small work teams will be formed to implement these recommendations.

TRIP gathered feedback from departments and travelers to better understand problem areas, determine the sources of delays, enhance training programs, review online booking and reimbursement technologies, and gather expenditure data to explore volume discounts.

Early releases include:

  • Units have been delegated the authority to manage non-sufficient fund overrides. This eliminated a step and saves approximately 3-5 days in the process of approving travel.
  • A unit-led Shared Services Model has been established and allows the department to process a high volume of travel for SFOS, GI, Museum and SNRE for a lower cost (1 FTE savings).
  • The UA Pro-card can be used to pay for lodging expenses, eliminating a special approval or requisitions process, saving 100 hours per year; decreases the burden of debt on travelers’ personal cards, and increases the UA credit card usage. (Represents $40,000/yr in tax savings and increased rebates.)
  • Travel reimbursements are audited after processing, decreasing refund processing time in the central office to three business days after receipt from units. Audit practices will continue to be monitored.

TRIP Business Case

TRIP Team Members
  • Jared Dillbeck, Marine Advisory Program
  • Dawniel Dupee, Cooperative Extension Services / School of Natural Resources & Agricultural Sciences
  • Karina Gonzales, School of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences
  • Denise Irish, Department of Athletics
  • Geoff Jacobs, Office of Finance and Accounting
  • Sarah Lanstra, Geophysical Institute
  • Serena Likar, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research
  • Jennifer Harris, PIT Crew
  • Margo Griffith, PIT Crew
  • Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, PIT Crew
  • Kris Racina, PIT Crew
  • Libby Eddy, PIT Crew
TED Purpose

To implement a comprehensive, accessible and innovative training program empowering UAF employees to pursue career development or career change, accomplished through partnering with experts and providing a clear and relevant roadmap, with trackable and meaningful outcomes.

Some key target outcomes include: trainings available in one easy to find place, clearly defined pathways for employees to train- from initial onboarding through career development, and improved tracking and reporting of training so that employees can easily tell what they need and when they need it.

TED Dates

July 2014 - July 2016

TED Project Status

The team presented their business case to the steering committee, and has transitioned the project to UAF Human Resources for implementation. Early releases include:

  • The team created a single website for UAF Training that keeps all required trainings in a single location.
  • At present the University is implementing PageUp (HR Software for Workforce Development) which has a module that will be used as a centralized onboarding, training tracking, and performance management system.
TED Team Members
  • Jessica MacCallum, Office of the Bursar (Team Leader)
  • Debra Kouda, Office of Information Technology
  • Gary Bender, Office of Information Technology
  • Kimberly Knudsen, Environmental Health and Safety and Risk Management
  • Shannon O'Kelley, Human Resources
  • Wendy Langton, Human Resources
  • Melissa McDonough, Office of Finance and Accounting
  • Michelle Littell, Procurement and Contract Services
  • Melissa Parks, Office of Grants and Contracts Administration
  • Andrew Gray, Office of Grants and Contracts Administration
    Facilitators: Faye Gallant, Ashley Munro, Julie Queen- UAF PIT Crew
Refund Improvement Process (RIP)

The Refund Improvement Process (RIP) team was selected and began work in March 2015. Initially the RIP team’s objective was to find areas for process improvements to positively impact the student experience. The main goals set forth by the team were to find ways to streamline, improve processes, and make the refunds faster and more efficient.

RIP Dates

March 2015 - September 2016

Project Status

The team quickly identified improving customer service, creating a better student experience and staff work environment as top priorities. Additional goals established by the RIP team were to brainstorm methods to automate the current process, make refunds more timely, increase training and knowledge of student services staff, improve communication with students regarding direct deposit, reduce manual labor and refund processing time.

The Business Case is complete and has been accepted by the team's steering committee. It can be viewed HERE.

SUPER: Streamlined, User-friendly Procurement & Efficient Requisitions
Project Background

The SUPER team will be working to reduce or eliminate rubs identified during the early stages of the process improvement effort.  Some of the identified problems include:

  • Insufficient information/documentation; lack of communication
  • Blanket PO’s not tied to volume discounts
  • Lack of accountability/consistency/transparency in the process
  • Lack of training/clarity of process
  • Experts brought to the table late in the process
  • Too many reviews/approvals, many redundant steps
  • Overall process not user-friendly 
Super Dates

April 2013 - June 2015


SUPER Purpose

To create a streamlined procurement process that is user-friendly, transparent and efficient for all stakeholders.  The process is being evaluated from the time a request to buy something is made within a department, to the time a Purchase Order (PO) is issued at the UAF Office of Procurement & Contract Services. 

SUPER is evaluating the various methods available for procurement, in addition to reviewing training plans, in order to make recommendations for improvement. 

SUPER Project Status


  • Automatic email updates from Banner as a requisition moves through the process
  • Redesign Procurement & Contract Services website to be more user-friendly
  • Compile and analyze feedback, create improved standardized templates/forms, create/update training materials and program
  • Allow travel expenses on procards, reducing the need to administer multiple cards
SUPER Recommendations and Implementation

SUPER Executive Business Case (six pages)

SUPER Full Business Case with Appendix (sixteen pages)

SUPER Team Members
  • Kara Axx, Facilities Services
  • Roberta Hamilton, School of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences
  • Kari Haschke, Geophysical Institute
  • Denise Moe, Procurement & Contract Services
  • Terry Rahlfs, Procurement & Contract Services                        
  • Kristin Elieff, Office of Information Technology                         
  • Scott Snedden, Procurement & Contract Services
  • Faye Gallant, PIT Crew
  • Margo Griffith, PIT Crew
  • Julie Queen, PIT Crew
HIRED: HR Internal Recruitment & Design
HIRED Purpose

To create a standardized process that provides increased customer satisfaction through an effective, timely, measurable and efficient approach to pre-recruitment.

Hired Dates

March 2012 - April 2014

HIRED Project Status

In 2012, HIRED gathered data regarding the current internal processes used by each of the UAF departments.  The team integrated this information into a set of best practices and a business case with recommendations for improvement, and began implementing solutions.
The Employee Pre-Recruitment (HIRED) team has also presented its recommendations (via a business case) to the steering committee.  Several recommendations can be completed within UAF HR, while others will require System Office collaboration.  

The UAKJobs system has been replaced with a new, easier to use system.  Additionally, work teams focused on streamlining positions descriptions (PDs) and developing best practices for UAF departments are underway.

HIRED Early Releases
  • To increase consistency in the recruitment process, Vice Chancellors (VC) and units were asked to complete a standardized delegation template indicating what positions within each unit require review. To date, unit templates are available and each VC and Provost have completed these delegations. HR has also developed standardized memos and scoring templates for PPA use. They are posted online as a PPA/hiring manager recruitment resource.
  • In an effort to eliminate multiple levels of approval for some recruitments, the process for Direct Appointments has been streamlined. This improvement has reduced time for hiring a position via Direct Appointment from an average of several weeks to an average of three days and cut the cost of processing a direct appointment in half (an effort savings of more than $200 per direct appointment). HR is examining other positions to eliminate redundant approvals where they exist.
  • Recruitment references for PPAs have been improved online and a PPA Training Academy is being actively developed. The goal of improved and specific HR training will include a shift of recruitment responsibility (and access to complete the work) from the central UAF Human Resources Office to the departments.
  • UAKJobs has been replaced with a new, easier to use system.
HIRED Recommendations and Implementation

HIRED Business Case

HIRED Project Transition Memo

HIRED Team Members

•    Derek Bastille, Office of Management & Budget (OMB)
•    Inna Conner, UAF HR
•    Margo Griffith, IAB/UAF HR
•    Shelly Hall, UAF HR
•    Donna Laiti, Geophysical Institute/UAF HR
•    Libby Eddy, PIT Crew
•    Julie Queen, PIT Crew

GPS Purpose

To streamline the grant award setup process to minimize the time between when UAF receives notification of an award and when the PI can start spending money on the project. The goal is to reduce this time to five working days.

GPS Dates

March 2012  - May   2014

GPS Project Status

In 2012, GPS gathered data regarding the current internal processes used by each of the UAF departments.  The team integrated this information into a set of best practices and a business case with recommendations for improvement. 

The Grant Award Set-Up (GPS) team has presented recommendations (via a business case) to the executive level steering committee.  Several recommendations have been accepted including the expansion of InfoEd, an online proposal and award management software package, exploration of higher signature thresholds on certain awards (to eliminate delays in set-up), and a training plan is in development for implementation of several solutions.

GPS Early Releases
  • Through GPS efforts, it became clear improved integration with pre-award processes is an important and fundamental component for broad success.  Therefore, to assist faculty, staff and students in these areas, we committed to a major reorganization effort and, in mid-January, integrated the functions of the Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) into OGCA. The integrated OGCA/OSP approach will include significant cross-training and functioning as teams to ensure system efficiencies, professional growth and continued customer service improvements under your leadership.
  • A single point of data entry and repository for grant management (from proposal to award) was also identified as critical to improving transparency, timeliness of approval and set-up, and accuracy of information. Investment in UAF’s InfoEd pre-award software module was committed early on; the GPS team reinvigorated attention on the need to push full implementation of a software tool. Post-award management will be reviewed next as a result of GPS recommendations.
  • Data indicated restricted award set-up at the beginning of this initiative was between 7-42 days. One major complicating factor was the number of forms required for the timely set-up of a grant budget. Budget forms (BRFs) were eliminated as a result of this process, allowing departments to take responsibility for budgetary grant review and data-entry directly into Banner (FRABUDP) saving a paper submission process and several process steps for departments and for OGCA to review and key.
GPS Recommendations

GPS Business Case

GPS Transition Memo

GPS Team Members
  • Wanda Bowen, Office of Grants & Contracts Administration
  • Deby Chapman, Center for Research Services
  • Nickole Conley, College of Engineering & Mines/Institute of Northern Engineering
  • Kim Cox, International Arctic Research Center
  • Janet Daley, Geophysical Institute
  • Angela Gies, School of Fisheries & Ocean Sciences
  • Dave Read, PIT Crew
  • Mike Cox, PIT Crew
Fairbanks & Community Campus Student-Centered Workshop(s)
Project Background

A workshop was held in November 2012 with a focus on student registration and payment processes at the Fairbanks Campus and at community campuses (rural Alaska). 

This is the first time many Fairbanks and rural located student advisors, administrators, and technicians had the chance to meet each other, and collaborate to make suggestions for improving student workflow processes.

Based on feedback from the session, participants found it useful to have an opportunity for this interaction and may be looking to find more ways to keep the lines of communication open in the future.  As part of the discussion, participants identified some processes that currently work very well as compared to areas that may be candidates for improvement.

Completion Date

February 2013

MACIT: Marketing and Communications Improvement Team
Project Background

The Marketing and Communications Improvement Team (MACIT) is working to create a streamlined intake and management process through education and collaboration, permitting Marketing and Communications to further the mission of UAF.

MACIT identified several areas to improve as part of the intake and management process.  These areas include:

  • Provide clarity on who to ask/how to make an original request
  • Establish clarity regarding services provided
  • Improve timely response
  • Provide expert and thorough initial consultation and evaluation
  • Develop a standardized intake process
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Improve communication and/or coordination
MACIT Purpose

The intended outcomes of this improvement effort include a more transparent intake and output process and more efficient and effective use of resources within the Marketing & Communications department.  Improving customer service and support is an intended outcome. 


June 2012 - October 2013

Project Status

The team completed their project, instituting a new project intake process and implementing BaseCamp project management software.

MACIT Team Members
  • Carla Browning, Marketing and Communications
  • Sharon Burke, Marketing and Communications
  • Kim Davis, Marketing and Communications
  • Ross Imbler, Development
  • Mary Kreta, Admissions and Registrar
  • Amber Watts, Marketing and Communications
  • Julie Queen, PIT Crew
  • Dave Read, PIT Crew
  • Pamm Zierfuss-Hubbard, PIT Crew