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From January to March 2014, our business innovation consultants, Censeo Consulting Group, completed an 11-week assessment of several W&M business process areas, including HR, IT, facilities, procurement and finance. The consultants' work covered operations, not academic programs. The diagnostic was informed by a variety of internal and external sources, including over 200 interviews at W&M, and benchmarking against other similar universities, as well as Censeo's experience working with peer universities. The review validated several initiatives that are already underway.

The consultants' assessment confirmed that W&M staff members are dedicated and hard-working, often juggling multiple roles. Current processes are the result of delicate balances developed over time. People are working extremely hard to hold some particularly complex and involved processes together. So as we make process improvements, we must be careful not to do harm.

Censeo benchmarking of W&M's spending compared to a group of 17 peer institutions confirms that we fall well below almost all of our peers in total spending per student, in both instructional and non-instructional categories. Our 3.6% growth per year in non-academic costs between 2006 and 2012 is about average for our peer group, but that is an unsustainable trend for W&M and all of higher education. We need to significantly slow the rate of future cost growth.

The steering committee working with Censeo narrowed a list of over 70 ideas down to a set of eight initial project areas with the greatest promise. We will now launch a coordinated university program, led by the Provost and the VP for Strategic Initiatives working with the steering committee and coordinated by a Business Innovation Management Team, to refine and capture these opportunities and track the results. The Director of Economic Development and Business Innovation, assisted by existing staff from Strategic Initiatives and the Provost's office, will coordinate the projects and track results. Each project will have a VP, Dean or Chief Information Officer as its owner and will be pursued by W&M project teams, some working alone and some working with consultants.