Frequently Asked Questions About PEAK

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Why is the University undertaking the PEAK Initiative? (General)

The University faces the following challenges, which have led to our goal of reducing costs while retaining excellent service and the agility to evolve.

  • Changing student demographics and enrollment pressure
  • An increasingly competitive marketplace
  • Changing infrastructure needs
  • Declining support from federal and state sources
  • Competition for talent and evolving hybrid workplace
  • Expanding social and environmental responsibility
  • Rapidly evolving technology

How is this different form the initiatives we have taken before, such as Operational Excellence? (General)

The PEAK Initiative is a comprehensive look at administrative employment, services, and technology across the University system. Previous efforts focused on managing costs unit-by-unit versus the initiative's focus on systemic change starting with taking a deep look at how the system operates, how we work together and what opportunities exist to align work with priorities while making better use of our resources (people and funding).

Will my job status change? (General)

The intent of this initiative is not to eliminate the University's most valuable resource, its people. Some of your work tasks may look different. Individuals may see their work evolve and challenge them to learn new ways of doing things. Everyone should see some benefit from these changes, whether it is from improved services, tasks done more efficiently, or seeing entire processes transform into a new and more easily accessed service. One benefit of looking at administrative work as a system is seeing if there are opportunities to redesign our employment experience so there are more clear paths to advance professionally.

How will I learn about changes to my job or to my services/systems I might use everyday? (General)

Many of the options that will be considered as part of the PEAK Initiative may take several years to design and implement. As we learn about opportunities to change the way we work, those impacted directly by the change will be provided with information or resources to understand how the change impacts them and the broader community. The goal is transparency, ensuring people have the right level of information at the right time, and making certain guidance is provided in clear, unambiguous language.

Why is this a priority for the University now given everything else we are working on? (General)

The PEAK Initiative supports the systemwide goals of MPact 2025 and it will help position the University to sustain itself over the long term and it could lead to systems that are more flexible and allow for dollars to be reinvested in higher-priority efforts.

Will the people who actually do the work be involved in redesigning or implementing recommendations? (Assessment Phase)

This process is designed to be participatory, collaborative, and consultative. It is a priority to involve the community where possible, understanding that in some situations there may, by necessity, be fewer opportunities for broad participation.

How is this information from the Activity Study being used by the PEAK Initiative? (Assessment Phase)

The Activity Study information has informed the data gathering and analysis process and provided information on the:

  • The scale of administrative work (how much administration work is UMN completing?).
  • The distribution of administrative work (where is the work occurring?).
  • The fragmentation of administrative work (how many different administrative tasks are individuals responsible for on a weekly basis?).
  • The consistency of administrative work (is someone in a similar role completing similar work?).

What other data is informing the PEAK Initiative? (General)

In the fall of 2020, we initiated a separate survey--the Activity Investment Metrics--to learn more about activities related to human resources. The data from this survey was used to better understand the type of HR activities occurring and where this work is happening. The data from this study analysis identified very similar themes to the 2021 Activity Study regarding scale, distribution, fragmentation, and consistency of HR duties across the system.

In addition to the two surveys, which had nearly 6,000 participants, PEAK is supported by a variety of both quantitative and qualitative data, including but not limited to:

  • 75+ Interviews and Small Group Sessions with more than 300 participants
  • 500+ Workshop and webinar participants
  • 400+ responses to a Faculty Administrative Effort survey
  • Employee census information, payroll, institutional surveys and internal studies, organizational charts, audits, and other supplementary information
  • External benchmark data

Will individual job duties or job performance be assessed as part of PEAK? (General)

Data provided by the University, including the survey data and information from interviews, focus groups, and committee meetings, will be used to support system-wide recommendations. No individual job recommendations will be made.

How are faculty and students being engaged in this work? (General)

Faculty have been and will continue to be an integral part of the PEAK process. We have met with many faculty members in both individual interviews, focus groups, working sessions, and other conversations. We also met with the Faculty Consultative Committee and several faculty members are included on the PEAK Advisory Council. A Faculty Administrative Survey was deployed to a sample of 1,000 faculty members across all five campuses. Over 400 faculty members responded regarding the type, breadth, and difficulty of administrative activities they complete. Academic representation will be a priority with each phase of this initiative.

Similarly, students have been involved in interviews, focus groups, and working sessions as well. We have met with undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral-level students from a variety of disciplines and there is a student representative on the PEAK Advisory Council. We will continue to engage students, specifically regarding feedback on administrative processes that impact academic support and student services.

Contact Us

Faculty and staff involvement is critical to the PEAK Initiative's success and we look forward to continuing to engage with individuals from all five campuses throughout this effort. Please continue to ask questions, provide comments, and share feedback via our feedback form or email our project team at [email protected]

The PEAK Initiative is co-chaired by:

Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Myron Frans and
Vice President for Human Resources Ken Horstman