Even though the NUS Organisational Excellence (OE) Accounts Receivable initiative has completed its first phase, the team members are still carrying the momentum forward and embracing lessons learnt in their daily work and outlook.
Initiative Owner (IO) Chua Eng Sim, Senior Associate Director at the Office of Finance (OFN), shared his personal thoughts, “This exercise taught me to question the ‘status quo’ in our daily functions. The process or policy might have been relevant at the point it was implemented, but as time progresses, the environment or business could have changed, making it unsuitable or irrelevant. We have to streamline or even overhaul entire processes.”
Co-IO Wendy Tan, Senior Assistant Dean at the Office of Human Resources, has observed a noticeable mindset shift in all the participants involved. She felt that the team members have become ambassadors of OE, a sentiment echoed by Eng Sim.
“We don’t want this to be a once-off massive project. It has to be part of our work routine,” stressed Wendy. Thus, instead of just focusing on completing a task, they are constantly anticipating change. “We ask ourselves how we can improve our current workflow and systems to preempt the changes.”
The OE Accounts Receivable team members have become ambassadors of change after participating in the OE initiative (from left): Josephine Lim Ai Tee, Senior Manager, Duke-NUS Medical School; Ong Ai Chen, Senior Executive, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine; Wendy Tan; Tan Yi Ting, Assistant Manager, OFN; Alina Ng Choy Peng, Lead Systems Analyst, NUS Information Technology; Lim Hui Zhen, Manager, OFN; and Chua Eng Sim
Both Eng Sim and Wendy shared their journey with colleagues to let them understand the purpose of the exercise, which seeks to break down the “silos” faculty and central administration operate in. Instead of a top-down approach where policies are pushed out, there is now greater consultation and feedback before any change is rolled out.
Wendy pointed out, “We see ourselves as ambassadors and catalysts for change. By infusing the spirit of continuous improvement into the way we function, our actions will cultivate a dynamic work culture that we hope will resonate with the rest of our colleagues. The constant discussions will help set the tone that propagates as the OE process continues to travel.”
The OE exercise instills a change of mindset and culture, a reminder that it should be part of our DNA to preemptively and proactively identify ways to continuously improve our process workflow and increase productivity.
The Accounts Receivable initiative team has achieved several “quick wins” to address major pain points faced by users. One key improvement is the introduction of a standardised one-page template with clear instructions for creating sales orders and invoices to both the internal and external communities. Requestors and users are now able to submit the required information for direct upload into NUS’ SAP finance system, halving the steps and turnaround time. Multiple sales orders can also be created with a single upload.
Another quick-win lies in the streamlining of faculties’ income collection points by 65 per cent, minimising user exposure.
More importantly, the takeaways from the initiative are manifold: the team members are empowered to generate ideas through brainstorming; learn new work areas; better understand the impact of policy on operations; identify individual strengths; and grow their resilience for the long run.
Organisational Excellence is a strategic initiative undertaken by the University to develop best practices for an efficient and world-class administration to better support NUS’ Vision and Mission. It aims to bring about improved work processes and policies as well as create opportunities for talent development and growth.