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Investing in People: Helping a Public University Reallocate Personnel to Create a More Effective Organization

Case Study

Investing in People: Helping a Public University Reallocate Personnel to Create a More Effective Organization

Sub-optimal organizational design can hamper the effectiveness of an organization and underutilize human capital. Faced with budgetary concerns and pressure from the state legislature, a regional, public university brought in Censeo to assess its organizational structure to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of its administrative units.


Censeo’s client, a public university with a lean administrative staff and tight budget constraints, was looking for opportunities to reallocate personnel in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its administrative units. A commission for the state that provides legislative oversight had recently issued guidance that all state universities should be assessing their organizational performance with respect to spans and layers. Complicated by inaccurate HR data and a workforce that experienced unusually high turnover, university leadership brought in Censeo to analyze the current state of the organization and work with individual unit leaders to optimize resources.


Over the course of nine weeks, the Censeo team met with key members of 19 different administrative units across campus to gain a baseline understanding of the personnel challenges faced in each organization. The team updated the available HR data to create an accurate picture of the current state of the university, while identifying areas that were particularly lean or represented long-term goals that hadn’t been pursued due to financial limitations. By working with unit leaders to understand not just how efficiencies could be created, but also where they could be reinvested, the team was able to generate excitement and buy-in across the university.


The team was able to identify $2.8 million in efficiencies that could be reallocated to fund new initiatives or support existing ones that lacked adequate resources. In addition to generating new efficiencies, the team also helped to restructure the university’s individual units to function at a more optimal level. University leadership agreed that the proposed organizational structures would enable each unit to perform their duties more effectively with the same or fewer staff resources. Several recommendations deemed to be high-impact and requiring minimal change-management were even implemented by the client during the course of the project. All told, the recommendations would increase university-wide average managerial span from 3.8 to 4.3 while eliminating an entire layer.

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The team also developed a reporting tool to help the university track their progress toward these goals over time, despite the data challenges faced by HR. The logic feeding the dashboard manipulates the existing data so that future calculations match  Censeo’s methodology, and more accurately depict progress.

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