In spring 2013, the University of Washington engaged The Hackett Group, an independent research firm, to conduct a benchmarking analysis of its HR & Payroll functions. Hackett's sector and world-class comparison data comes from its client database. Assessments are based on more than 7,500 benchmarks and performance studies.

An extensive data collection effort helped us establish a baseline of UW's current costs for performing HR and payroll functions. Data was collected from a sample of 57 units that are representative of the diverse UW enterprise. Hackett then compared the UW’s data against data from high-performing organizations across all industries, and also against a smaller subset of organizations more similar to the UW.  The results of this benchmarking effort helped illustrate the need for change.

Key findings from the study:

  1. UW's HR and payroll expenditures are low in comparison to others, but the UW is not delivering the depth and value of services as comparison sector organizations.
  2. UW's HR and payroll efforts are very focused on transactional processes, with relatively little focus on strategic efforts.
  3. Manual processes and lack of automation contribute to high error rates.
  4. Siloed or redundant activities exist in some processes. These efforts don't have the benefit of an overall UW approach.
  5. Heavy campus unit involvement is required in some processes. A significant amount of this work is being done by supervisors. 

Key opportunities for improvement include:

  1. Focus HR/payroll expenditures on more value-add services.
  2. Better leverage technology to improve availability of data, support analysis of HR and payroll issues, enable better decision-making, minimize the manual nature of most transactions, decrease time required of decentralized unit staff to perform transactions.
  3. Standardize and automate to enable more consistent processes in compensation administration, time and attendance, data management, and HR reporting.
  4. Redistribute work and redesign processes to decrease level of effort managers and staff devote to HR/P transactions.