Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Human Resources Service Centre
Year Submitted 2011
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name Title
Rob Cooper Chief Risk Officer
Name of Institution McMaster University
Office Address McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, GH-B107
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L8
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Telephone: (905) 525-9140, ext. 27453
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Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Roger Couldrey
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Vice President (Administration)
Office Address McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, GH-202
Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L8
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Telephone: (905) 525-9140, ext. 23068
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By June 2008, McMaster University had completed the implementation of a new Human Resources Information System.  At that time McMaster engaged a third-party consultant to assess McMaster’s structure and delivery model for HR administration and Payroll. Key among the recommendations was the adoption of a new HR/Payroll service delivery model – a Human Resources Service Centre.

The Central Payroll team, under the Finance umbrella, consisted of 12 FTE staff; the HR complement consisted of 23 FTE. Both complements were moved to one location, a new organizational structure was created, and staff were fitted into new roles and cross trained. This restructuring resulted in the creation of McMaster’s Human Resources Service Centre (HRSC), implemented in the fall of 2009.

The HRSC consolidates/centralizes HR administration and Payroll service delivery in one location. It is based on best practices. This model of service delivery has resulted in the promotion of broader accountabilities (generalist versus specialist) whereby a lesser number of people is involved in a process. The customer experience is enhanced by a single point of contact, as opposed to the multiple silos within most HR/Payroll processes that have traditionally fragmented structure and accountability.

The implementation of the HRSC has been overseen by a Steering Committee made up of senior managers and key stakeholders. The mandate of this steering committee includes ensuring that the operational and information needs of employees, administrators and management are met and that strategies align with the mission of McMaster University.

McMaster’s HRSC has been in operation for about a year and a half, and has resulted in the following:

  • improved customer service
  • cost savings of $1 million in salaries/benefits
  • overhead cost savings
  • standardization, streamlining and simplification of HR/Payroll practices
  • balanced needs of customers at a lower cost through one point of contact
  • ability for closer and better control
  • decreased paper transactions
  • leveraged the functionality available within technologies
  • fostered improved ongoing communication between HR/Payroll and departments/faculties, nurturing a feeling of teamwork

This initiative has resulted in improved productivity, quality of service and customer satisfaction.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

This project can be easily applied at other institutions. There is a detailed process that was followed by McMaster University. This included the creation of a Core Project Team to determine a vision, scope of work and business needs, conducting interviews with service delivery stakeholders, benchmarking key indicators, and meeting with executive sponsors and a Steering Committee to review findings and assess change readiness. This led to the development of a service delivery model. The implementation followed the People/Processes/Technology model. Timelines were developed for implementation. This included moving staff to a new location, developing a new organizational structure, confirming their new roles, developing and operationalizing new and re-engineered processes, and integrating technology initiatives. McMaster's detailed development and implementation plan could be shared with other institutions.

Quality Impact

Some of the expected qualitative outcomes have resulted in: - Shared know-how: Sharing best practices in HR and Payroll processes, leveraging the combined HR and Payroll expertise, pooling knowledge about what works across different parts of the University and different departments and faculties, and equally important, sharing knowledge about customer service, has resulted in a Shared know-how and its inherent benefits. - Improving quality of service to customers: The benefits from more efficient processes, including one point of contact, have delivered greater consistency, timely and accurate information and advice to customers. - Clear definition of roles and responsibilities: Staff roles and responsibilities have been clearly defined. This has resulted in reductions in duplication/redundancy (both between HR and Payroll and between HR/Payroll and departments and faculties) and helped to get the right person doing the right work with the right skills and competencies at the right time. With the appropriate accountabilities, roles, responsibilities and controls in place, the end result has been closer and better controls.

Productivity Impact

During the period October 2009 to February 2011, the following are the productivity impacts of the HRSC: - change from multiple points of contact to one point of contact for all HR administration and Payroll issues - 35 FTE reduced to 23 FTE, a reduction of 12 FTE (34% decrease) - cost savings of $1 million in salaries and benefits - overhead cost savings - reduced staff overtime by 50% - decreased paper transactions by 25% - turnaround time on transactions has decreased by 10% - increased contribution to sustainability initiative by 20%


Postsecondary institutions are facing challenges in the form of competing priorities, limited resources and funding challenges. This innovative approach to service delivery, in the form of the Human Resources Service Centre, has helped address these challenges. Competing priorities and duplication of services are virtually eliminated through the alignment of HR and Payroll. Resource numbers are decreased by cross-training to make generalists rather than specialists, resulting in a substantial cost savings. The main difference between this and previous submissions is with the McMaster model, the FTE count was reduced from 35 to 23 with a resultant cost savings of approximately $1 million.