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A smaller administration with larger ambitions

When we reduce costs in the administration, our ambition for the future is naturally not just to perform the same work with fewer man hours. We must continue to develop the administration and prioritise which tasks we perform and how. In this month’s post, I would like to follow up on my previous posts about the development of the administration. I would like to focus on how we can work together to make AU an even more attractive place to work and develop our support for Aarhus University’s core tasks.

Last year, we got started on the development of the administration by initiating work on three strategic focus areas: digitisation, process optimisation and competency development. We can already begin to harvest the fruits of this strategic focus and the solid work that has been put into the focus areas

BlackBoard, Tjek & Go and the Digital Exams system are good examples of the continued digitisation of our work processes. Digitisation also applies to our entire IT infrastructure, and this year we have made an extra effort to phase out old IT systems and modernise our network structure and data centres.

In relation to process optimisation, among other things, we have optimised exam scheduling at Arts by introducing an annual schedule for the entire faculty, we have optimised the postdoc appointment process at ST, and at HE and ST, we have optimised administrative procedures for project finance administrators. In relation to education, we have automated all indicators and key figures in the data packages in AURAP, AU’s business intelligence system, to which all directors of studies now have access. For AU Student Administration and Services, this has considerably reduced the work burden involved in procuring the necessary data – which means time is freed up which can be spent on analysis and consultancy.

This development will intensify in coming years, and I expect that analysis and personal contact to and guidance of students and researchers will constitute an increasingly significant part of the administration’s portfolio of tasks. Digitisation, process optimisation and competency development all mean that we can free up the resources to make this prioritisation a reality.

Are we performing the right tasks?
As the examples above demonstrate, our current focus is on finding ways to do things better and working smarter – but perhaps we haven’t paid enough attention to whether we’re working on the right things. To ensure that the administration at AU continues to be an attractive workplace, we have to make a decision about what tasks we are and are not going to perform.

This means we have to prioritize within our portfolio of tasks. What is more, I also think that the administration should not be viewed solely as a portfolio of services. In future, I would like to see the administrative and academic sides of the organisation work together to generate development to an even higher degree.

There is also a need for even more shared processes. For example, when I observe that each faculty has its own guidance service for a particular area, I often wonder whether we could agree on a single university-wide service. Or when I observe that we have four different ways of approaching an administrative task, I wonder whether we could agree on a single shared approach? This is not to say that everything can – or should – be standardised. In some areas, for example, we have different solutions in order to accommodate specific requests from the academic environments. However, I still think that we have to make an effort to develop shared solutions in selected areas of the administration.

As I see it, the development of the administration is the path to both a better administration and to ensuring that AU becomes an even more exciting place to work.

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