Review some of the general frequently asked questions about PEAK. Additional questions and answers specific to each PEAK function area and the Expression of Interest can be found on the following pages:


General Questions

These questions have been updated as of May 4, 2023.

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Why are we doing PEAK?

PEAK is grounded in the principles of people aligned with work in a community where the employee experience is prioritized. Our goal is that PEAK will support our institutional mission by thoughtful investment of our resources. PEAK is about realigning our people, service excellence and the cost efficiency of delivered services so we can best support our institution systemwide; its goal is not reduction in staffing levels.

What do we mean by aligning people, future work and services?

Currently, services in Finance, Human Resources (HR), and Marketing and Communications (Marcom) are performed depending on the respective resources and size of the campus or college/unit. PEAK’s goal is a more efficient delivery of services with specialized and centralized roles by creating a Financial Operations Center, an HR Operations Center, and expanding the University Relations Common Goods Services to provide consistent and enhanced services for all employees of the University. Rather than maintaining talent or best practices in a non-uniform way that is unique to a campus or college/unit, the PEAK Initiative will allow us to leverage talent and best practices in HR, Finance, and UR Common Goods Services systemwide.

What Will PEAK Change?

PEAK will create centralized specialist positions within Human Resources (HR), Finance, and Marketing and Communications (Marcom). Two new leadership roles were created in IT to support the existing IT structure, enhancing collaboration between OIT and local IT leadership. Staff who are currently performing HR, Finance, or some Marcom roles - or who have experience in these areas, even if they are not currently working in this type of role - can express interest in a specialist role within those functional areas. Staff who are currently performing HR, Finance, or Marcom roles now and who are not interested in moving to the FinOps Center, HR Ops Center, or UR Common Goods and Services will work with their campus or college/unit to realign around the work that remains with that campus or college/unit.

Who is a part of the PEAK initiative?

Staff who currently perform Human Resources or Finance functions may be a part of the PEAK project. PEAK will also create new positions to support digital communications, brand management, reporting and analytics, creative services, and marketing strategy in Marketing Communications. PEAK will also create several leadership positions in IT.


How does PEAK affect MPact 2025?

The PEAK Initiative, a systemwide effort to identify opportunities across non-academic functions to increase consistency and/or gain capacity was launched to help steer our teaching, research, and outreach mission into the future.

What are the benefits for different stakeholders on campus?

All staff will benefit from increased service delivery and a people-centered approach, which prioritizes the employee experience.

Roles Benefits
Staff Those who move into PEAK roles will have the opportunity to specialize in an area of their interest. They will benefit from equitable and inclusive opportunities for PEAK-created roles, professional growth via training, specialization within their field of work in a community of similarly skilled staff, and clearly defined career pathways and levels.
Supervisors Within the PEAK model they will benefit from an integrated community of specialists and the opportunity to equitably and inclusively help build, train, and lead their teams.
Faculty Will benefit from more efficient execution of services by the creation of centralized specialists who provide consistent and enhanced services for all “customers” of those services. What this means for faculty is less dependence on one “go-to” person for their Human Resources and Finance needs. Faculty will have access to an entire team of specialists focused on one unique area, increasing the efficiency and quality of service and minimizing risk of non-compliant practices. This means more time for faculty to focus on delivering mission-critical work.
Deans/Chancellors/Administrative Directors Will benefit from focused, local, and strategic support staff, freed from transactional tasks, who will support the leadership’s vision and goals for their unit.
Departments Will benefit from utilizing specialized functions to support their service needs.


Who will be included in Phase 1 of the Initiative?

The units included in Phase 1 are:

  • Office of Human Resources
  • Law School
  • Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • University Finance
  • UM Crookston
  • UM Duluth
  • UM Morris
  • UM Rochester
  • Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations - (includes Finance/Controller/Office of Information Technology)
  • Office of the Board of Regents
  • Internal Audit

Later phases will be announced over the coming months.

How will phase 1 implementation occur?

Implementation Phase 1 of the PEAK Initiative has key milestones over the next several months:

PEAK Implementation Phase 1 infographic 2.2023
Alternative format of PEAK Implementation Phase 1 Milestone infographic

What are my career path options in the PEAK model?

For staff moving into PEAK-created positions, there are a variety of options for career development, via training, specialization within a functional area, and the creation of clearly defined and standardized roles that allow for a clear pathway of career progression. Additionally, staff will no longer work disjointed from others in their area of specialization - or alone, if in smaller units. Staff who take PEAK-created roles will be surrounded by a community of peers to leverage best practices and support and will enjoy a space for networking and mentoring within their specialized areas.

What are my career path options if I remain in the department?

Staff who remain in the unit in functional roles will leverage their existing unit structure for career development and support. For those individuals who remain in the unit but whose work moves to an operations center, they will work with their unit to determine the work that remains for them within the unit. Career path options will be dependent on the type of work the individual is realigned to and the unit’s capacity; internal movement is also possible with internal posted positions.

When would I officially be a part of PEAK?

The current launch time range for Phase 1 is summer of 2023. This timeline for the remaining phases is still subject to change. Importantly, the phasing within PEAK is created to ensure a smooth transition - but all campuses and units are a part of the overarching program, regardless of specific timing of phase. Faculty and staff in all UMN campuses and units are essential to the success of PEAK for your unit. Regardless of which phase an employee is in, all employees are encouraged to participate, provide feedback, and support this new step in PEAK implementation.

What positions will be available and will they be posted?

During the Expression of Interest process, which is slated for early 2023, we will share more information about PEAK-created roles and how the entire functional team will support administrative needs, either in operations services or on-site campus/unit staff. More information about these roles will be shared with the Expression of Interest process in early 2023.

What are the roles that will be created by PEAK within Human Resources, Finance, Marketing Communications and IT?

Finance work in the PEAK structure will be organized according to three main functions: purchasing & accounts payable, accounts receivable, and general accounting. Human Resources positions for existing staff in the PEAK structure will focus on payroll, talent acquisition, compensation and benefits, workforce data management, and leave of absence. For Marketing Communications, new PEAK-created roles will focus on specialization in digital communications, creative services, account services, and measurement & analytics. For IT, new leadership roles will be created to further support the already existing IT structure, enhancing collaboration between the Office of Information Technology(OIT) and local IT leadership.

If I stay in my department, will I still be able to do everything I currently do?

If you are doing work that is shifting to an operations center, then you will work with your campus or unit leadership to determine how your role will change after PEAK implementation. If you remain with your campus or unit, you will no longer do operational Finance, Human Resources, Marketing & Communications activities that are in-scope for PEAK.

What about the budget?

PEAK is paying for PEAK. Units with budgetary authority today will continue to maintain that authority. Unit-specific budget and hiring decisions will continue to be the responsibility of campus, collegiate, and administrative leadership. The systemwide Budget Office is working to identify and track PEAK-related savings over the course of the multi-phased implementation and will make decisions, in consultation with University and unit leadership, as to how savings will be used to the benefit of the University.

Will my job title or classification change?

If you express interest in a PEAK role, depending on the classification of the role you are interested in, then your classification may change. Importantly, PEAK is about realigning people to the way we will be doing work; its goal is not to reduce workforce, particularly in light of the current low levels of staffing at the institution.

Is the University saving money through PEAK?

While this initiative is not focused primarily on cost savings, we anticipate some cost avoidance and potential savings due to more efficient service delivery. The University’s goal in implementing PEAK is to enhance services and improve the employee experience. We will accomplish this by aligning people alongside the specialized work they will do and in doing so, we will provide equitable and inclusive opportunities for advancing their skills, training, and clearly defined pathways for advancement.

How will campuses, colleges, and departments be involved in the redesign of business processes?

During their implementation each Resource Responsibility Center (RRC) will have a series of discovery meetings with the PEAK Office. While there are many goals for these meetings, they will specifically focus on discussing current processes, their alignment with proposed future processes, and collaboratively designing a transition plan that works with the campus or unit. The collaboration and process knowledge that academic departments and support units bring is vital to PEAK’s success. 

What is the decision-making structure for PEAK?

PEAK decisions are always informed by discussions with University leadership, including Chancellors, Deans, and faculty governance, as well as broad engagement with the community. No PEAK decision is made without staff consultation and/or consideration. PEAK’s formal decision-making structure is led by its Executive Sponsors and Executive Sponsor Advisory Committee.

PEAK’s Executive Sponsors are the University’s Chief Human Resources Officer, Ken Horstman, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations, Myron Frans. They are supported by an Advisory Committee comprised of senior leadership from all PEAK functions of Human Resources, Finance, Marketing and Communications, and Information Technology, including:

  • Amy Kucera, Senior Director, OHR Operations
  • Matt Kramer, Vice President, University Relations
  • Mike Volna, Associate Vice President & Assistant Chief Financial Officer
  • Julie Tonneson, Vice President & Budget Director
  • Sue Paulson, Controller
  • Bernie Gulachek, Vice President & Chief Information Officer

How has feedback in the transition been collected and used?

Since the initiative started people have provided feedback through surveys and information sessions. We will continue to collect feedback from various stakeholders through conversations with PEAK leaders to ensure we are managing this change successfully. One of PEAK’s ultimate goals is to create a culture of continuous improvement - feedback regarding the initiative is part of this goal. We encourage you to continue to reach out with questions and provide feedback through the PEAK contact form.

How is retention for “specialized” positions being assessed? What are expectations about the number of positions and processes within PEAK?

Human Resources, Finance, Marketing and Communications, and IT positions will be created for PEAK. Individuals who currently work in Human Resources, Finance, Marketing and Communications roles will be able to express interest in those positions through an Expression of Interest process. More information will be forthcoming in December regarding Expression of Interest with a targeted survey launch in early 2023. Final numbers of positions for each functional group are still being determined - but there will be hundreds of new positions created as part of the PEAK initiative.

Will layoffs occur?

The goal of PEAK is the realignment of people to the way we will be doing work, it is not aimed at a reduction in staff. We are currently at low levels of staffing across our institution, so our goal is to be thoughtful in the way we leverage our existing people and resources so we can make the most of our institutional knowledge while finding ways to do the work more consistently and seamlessly.

How will PEAK affect concepts like raises or classification?

We anticipate the challenges to vary by unit as PEAK will affect everyone slightly differently. We will be meeting with RRCs consistently throughout the implementation stage to surface and address specific challenges. As we are working through the early stages of this implementation together and gathering input from our the broader PEAK-related community (HR, Fin, Marcom, and IT) and their leaders, we expect the project to evolve and shift and we will continue to share what we know and inform you as broad programmatic decisions are available.

PEAK is an iterative process and we will use measurement and feedback to help us continually improve along the way. We are planning to create service-level agreements for the work that is moving to clarify expectations and will have metrics that will assist us in gauging how we are meeting those expectations. These tools will inform further improvements to central processing.

What feedback from us would be beneficial in working through these phases or streamlining processes?

There will be more opportunities to share feedback in upcoming sessions and as the work begins in earnest within the units. Initially, we will gather feedback from units in Phase 1 and we will continue these unit meetings in the subsequent phases. A key objective of these meetings will be understanding where the proposed draft design does not work with your current operations in any way so we can understand significant potential impacts.

In what ways is the PEAK initiative focused on enabling faculty to better deliver on the University's mission?

Currently, services in Human Resources, Finance, and Marketing and Communications are performed variably, depending on the resources of the campus, college, unit, or department for administrative support, as well as the training and specialization provided to their respective staff. PEAK’s goal is a more efficient execution of services by the creation of new specialist roles to provide consistent and enhanced services for all employees of the University. What this means for faculty is less dependent on one “go-to” person in Human Resources and Finance. Instead, people will have access to an entire team of specialists focused on one unique area, increasing the efficiency and quality of service and minimizing the risk of non-compliant practices. This means more time for faculty to focus on delivering mission-critical work. 

What training/retraining will be offered as part of these changes?

There will be training on new processes and tools prior to each phase "going live.” Additional information around training will be provided in the future.

Additional Questions?

Use the PEAK contact form to connect with the PEAK office.