Travel Process Recommendations Approved

One of the early focus areas of the Magis Operational Excellence (MOE) program was evaluating and reengineering the travel process.  The goal is to design a user-friendly travel booking experience built on trust and respect for faculty and staff that reduces total time for this task – from pre-travel approval through reimbursement payment.

Since August, a team of individuals from across the University has met to review the current travel process, solicit feedback from across the University and develop recommendations.  Many thanks to the following individuals for their service in this undertaking:

  • Dave Grabe, assistant vice president and controller (sponsor)
  • Jeff Gfeller, Ph.D., professor and chair, Department of Psychology (sponsor)
  • Fred Winkler, assistant controller (manager)
  • Donna Brown, executive assistant, Office of the Provost
  • Andrew Doeschot, associate director, business and finance, Department of Athletics
  • Beth Simon, associate director, Medical Center

The recommendations developed by the team were reviewed by the Steering Committee, and MOE Sponsors Provost Nancy Brickhouse and CFO David Heimburger presented recommendations to Dr. Pestello who approved them December, 2016.  The key components of the recommendations are:

Effective February 1, 2017

Increase threshold required for receipts submission to $50; receipts will not be required for travel-related purchases under $50 (e.g., taxi, meals, etc.)

Eliminate “transportation calculator” worksheet when justifying mileage reimbursement; travelers are always encouraged to choose lowest total cost transportation option available that also meets their needs

Permit conference travelers to book hotels at or below the conference rate, regardless of the availability of the conference hotel

Provide travelers the option of claiming 75% of the allowable government per diem, in lieu of submitting meal receipts. 

Ongoing Efforts

  • Implement a uniform policy applicable to all travelers at the University; departments, colleges/schools are not permitted to add complexity or restrictions above university-wide standards
  • Simplify group registrations for conferences
  • Streamline approval process, with goal of 1-step approval routing process for most travel
  • Create easy-to-access webpage for sharing university-wide policies and procedures with contact information for questions and comments
  • Optimize Concur travel tool to implement new policies, especially pre-travel approvals (e.g., approvals necessary to book a flight paid by University)
  • Enhance the way the University communicates and shares information with travelers and Concur users
  • Explore options for simplifying processes related to faculty travel that is partially-funded by the university (e.g., fixed amount reimbursement)
  • Streamline options for student travel

Now that the Travel Initiative is moving from design to implementation phase, Ellen Borowiak, senior contract management specialist, will be the project manager for this phase, leading a team responsible for moving recommendations into actual changes.  You can contact Ellen at eborowi@slu.edu.

Some of the above recommendations can be implemented fairly quickly; others will require additional conversations and review of external requirements (e.g., grant compliance). Additional input and support from internal stakeholders and outside vendors will be sought as complex processes across the University are standardized and simplified across colleges, departments, and divisions.  

In many ways, the work of the Travel Initiative is about culture, as well as travel.  The successful implementation of changes recommended by leaders depends on acceptance by faculty and staff, who have asked for a significant reduction in all types of burdensome administrative process at the University.

As work progresses on this initiative, updates will be posted on the MOE website (https://www.slu.edu/operational-excellence) and communicated electronically.  In the meantime, please continue to remain engaged in this process; we are grateful for all of the feedback we have received thus far.  Send the project team an email at magisoperationalexcellence@slu.edu or fill out the feedback form on the project website.  

Thank you.

Your program coordinators,

Eric Armbrecht, Ph.D., M.S.
Associate Professor

Mickey Luna, J.D.
Vice President, Human Resources

About the Magis Operational Excellence Program
Launched in February 2016, Magis Operational Excellence is an institution-wide initiative designed to make SLU more efficient and effective, and identify opportunities for increased revenue and growth — all to enable the priorities identified in the University's strategic plan. The program stems from Initiative Five of the strategic plan that calls for us foster a culture of excellence, effectiveness and efficiency deeply rooted in our institutional mission and Catholic, Jesuit values.