Finance assumes a friendly manner

January 18, 2002

Robert Gordon University has revamped its finance and procurement directorate with the help of business advisers Deloitte & Touche in a bid to make it more user friendly to academics.

The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council financed the review under its strategic change grant, which aims to promote best practice in the sector. Streamlining the directorate's work is expected to make it better able to support teaching and research.

Director of finance Pat Briggs said: "This restructuring exercise is groundbreaking for the education sector."

The directorate has drawn up a formal partnership agreement, which aims to treat staff and students as "customers".

Scott Mulholland, RGU's procurement manager, said that academics felt that in the past "things had been imposed on them", but the new system meant there was much more collaboration between the centre and the schools.

"There was a perception of the central support group as an administrative overhead, and we wanted to change this so it was seen as a partner," he said.

The shake-up includes a financial services website with downloadable forms and answers to frequently asked questions.

A university spokesperson said: "This is quicker and more convenient than having to arrange an appointment, and it frees up the directorate staff to concentrate on more complex inquiries and a more proactive approach to meeting customers' needs."

One of the first priorities has been for the 30-member directorate to avoid management and financial speak when dealing with the rest of the university.

Ms Briggs said: "We were delighted by the cooperation from the directorate's staff. Initially, people were wary and nervous. It's only natural for people to think that efficiency savings might equate with their job being threatened. Now they realise that it's about staff development."

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