MSU completes organizational review

April 13, 2020 at 12:00 pm

Led by expert consultants from KPMG, the MSU recently concluded a wide-ranging review of the organization’s structure and functions. The goal of the project was to examine the service delivery, capacity, reporting relationships, and staffing structures across the MSU’s array of operations. Specific objectives of the review were the following:

  • Identify structural inefficiencies and areas of resource duplication
  • Highlight savings and revenue generating opportunities
  • Streamline roles and responsibilities
  • Identify any staffing gaps and/or leading practices in operating policies and job descriptions

     The project was broken up into multiple phases. The first of which included stakeholder feedback sessions. The consultants conducted one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and a survey to articulate staff concerns, and better understand the scope of issues present within the MSU. Specifically, KPMG conducted approximately two dozen one-on-one interviews with folks from both McMaster and the MSU. Additionally, KPMG provided multiple focus group opportunities to both full- and part-time staff. Lastly, the consultants generated an anonymous survey, accessible to all staff members of the MSU. Nearly 100 people provided responses, focusing on themes of service delivery, organizational structure, decision authority, and risk elements.

     Following the information gathering phase of the review, the consultants from KPMG provided analysis along with more than a dozen recommendations for the MSU. Some priority recommendations which will be prioritized first, include:

  • Improve and update the organization’s “core capability” resources, (website, social media, vendor management, student feedback collection/analytics, e-commerce, etc.) in order to create a more connected organization.
  • Explore ways to leverage opportunities to better share resources across departments and more proactively manage turnover and vacancies.
  • Develop short instructional videos and leverage LinkedIn learning modules to accelerate onboarding processes and manage the natural turnover of student positions.
  • Conduct a deeper dive into the marketing and communications areas of the MSU to ensure we are creating a “Connected Student Experience” to drive change and ensure we are adequately serving student needs.
  • Leverage the prime location of Compass to increase students’ awareness of all services and activities available to them through the MSU. Explore the idea of installing self-service kiosks for a visually appealing, eCommerce experience.
  • Gain a better understanding of the HR and IT activity that is performed within the MSU by conducting activity surveys and use the data gathered to identify the required capacity and skills to support the HR and IT needs of the organization.

While the above list is not exhaustive, these recommendations are priority tasks that will allow the MSU to address some of the challenges identified by staff.

Lastly, the final phase of the review was to conduct a comparative scan of other organizations and industries, in order to identify trends that the MSU could potentially adopt. The scan informed several recommendations as to how the MSU can better connect with the student population and increase awareness of its services. Specifically, KPMG suggested that the MSU better utilize the Compass location on the main floor of the Student Centre. This includes the potential introduction of kiosks, as well as investigating increased branding opportunities. Additionally, KPMG recommended that the MSU better align its programs and activities to the needs of the student population by discontinuing aspects of existing services that are no longer current. Examples of this include reviewing the print aspect of the Silhouette, the physical ticketing aspect of Compass, and examining whether some MSU efforts are duplicative to those of McMaster University.

Ultimately, the review provided the MSU with a lot of recommendations and a new perspective to consider moving forward. Some initial actions have already been taken, such as improving support within our Clubs Department. Next year the MSU will employ a full-time Clubs Administrator and a full-time Clubs Accounting and Accounts Receivables clerk. Additionally, staff are currently reviewing their respective operating policies and job descriptions to ensure they reflect current efforts. Additionally, the Vice President (Finance) hopes to use the remaining weeks of this academic year to conduct activity surveys of the IT, HR, and Marketing & Communications departments.

For more information, please contact:

Alexandrea Johnston
Vice President (Finance)

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