In an effort to streamline and improve the business
practices of The Johns Hopkins University and the Johns
Hopkins Health System, leaders of the entities have decided
that the two will share service centers for seven office
functions, beginning in July 2006.
The change, though not a formal part of
was occasioned by that business initiative, which also will
go into effect in July 2006.
"It's a way to capture the advantages of the
HopkinsOne structure," says James McGill, the university's
senior vice president for finance and administration.
"After consideration, this decision became an obvious
The shared service centers will combine staff from the
university and health system to perform the same functions,
"only better," McGill says. People who perform similar
functions will be housed in one location, sharing common
procedures, equipment and personnel.
The leaders chosen to head the centers come from
throughout Johns Hopkins. Sponsored Projects will be led by
Lynn Kingsley, currently director of cost and research
accounting, JHU; Accounts Receivable, Ken Hoffmeyer,
associate controller, JHU; Payroll, Barb Warren, director
of tax and payroll, JHU; Accounts Payable, Kathy Ward,
manager of disbursements, JHHS; Fixed Assets, Ed Mooney,
director of general accounting, JHHS; Supply
Chain/Purchasing, co-leaders Paul Beyer, director of
purchasing, JHU, and Bill Kennett, senior director of
supply chain, JHHS; and Benefits, Heidi Conway, senior
director of benefits planning and administration, JHU.
In 2007, a Johns Hopkins Human Re-sources Service
Center for both the university and the health system will
Each center will be accountable to an advisory
committee consisting of representatives from across Johns
Hopkins. "Staff will be able to develop expertise in common
ways of doing things but still be sensitive to the
idiosyncrasies of the organizations they serve," McGill
McGill and Ronald Werthman, vice president for finance
for the health system, say that the HopkinsOne project
presents a unique opportunity to increase efficiency by
consolidating "back office" functions like payroll and
accounts payable. HopkinsOne is a multiyear project to
modernize most of Johns Hopkins' business and
administrative systems by installing integrated,
enterprisewide software called SAP.
McGill acknowledges the fear among some employees that
service center consolidation represents a trend to meld or
homogenize an organization that is known for its
decentralization and distinctive character across
departments and divisions. However, service centers are not
new to Johns Hopkins; they exist, for example, in
development, internal audit, real estate, information
technology and telecommunications.
In addition, "it's important to realize that Johns
Hopkins' strength comes from a decentralized flow of funds
at the divisional level or below, which minimizes outside
bureaucracy and encourages an entrepreneurial spirit among
faculty," McGill says. "From a business perspective, some
consolidation makes sense. We will work assiduously to not
put any roadblocks in the way of entrepreneurship, nor will
we make any changes in how divisional spending decisions
are made. Deans and department heads make those decisions,
and that won't change."
Both Werthman and McGill assure employees that the
changes will not pose a threat to job security. "In the
long run, service centers will mean that fewer people will
perform these back office functions, but it will take a few
years for these centers to fully hit their stride," McGill
says. "In the meantime, some people will leave or retire;
depending upon their roles, we may not hire employees to
replace them. And we will give those who stay the
opportunity to be retrained."
Werthman points out that when the health system
combined office functions more than a decade ago, not only
did efficiency increase, but jobs were added rather than
lost because of overall growth. "Change is never easy, but
it is inevitable," Werthman says. "I still think we have a
good track record when it comes to demonstrating concern
for all our employees' careers."
The next step is for service center heads to develop
business plans and determine the nature of the service
agreements they will establish with constituents,
turnaround times and other operational details, Werthman
Service center locations and other details are not yet