The Common Solutions inventory is part of a broader strategy to facilitate efficiency and encourage collaboration among departments across campus. If you use a tool you think others in academic units would find useful, or if you have an idea for a much-needed tool, template, or best practice, please fill out this brief form or contact us at commonsolutions@berkeley.edu. For an overview of the inventory, please see below.

“The 4 Cs”  The inventory was developed with four main objectives in mind:

  1. Compile -- The inventory provides a single point of access into a variety of tools, regardless of the type of tools, their owners, or the processes they are designed to support.

  2. Contribute -- The inventory makes it easy for academic staff on campus to offer up a tool they’ve used successfully in their department that could prove useful to colleagues in other departments.

  3. Consult -- The tools are available on an optional basis to anyone interested in finding out who has already found a peer-tested solution to a common business process or problem.

  4. Collaborate -- The inventory is an opportunity to showcase creative solutions but also to facilitate new partnerships among academic units and with administrative units.

Inventory Timeline:

  • Phase One (Summer 2017): Release the first set of finance/budget and academic personnel tools.

  • Future additions: Expected to include tools to support functions in human resources, student services, website development, and project/portfolio management.

What is a Common Solutions tool?

The Common Solutions Inventory is home to a broad variety of tools -- from Excel spreadsheets with built-in macros and report-generating capabilities to new modules developed as companion pieces to an enterprise system, or a new software program built to address an unmet need.

To be considered a Common Solution, a tool must meet four major criteria:

  1. Utility to other academic units and user-friendliness;

  2. Shareability or scalability;

  3. Availability of user support; and

  4. Compliance with policies and regulations, when relevant (e.g., AP regulations, security/privacy).

Contributing a tool

The process for contributing a new tool to the inventory is simple. The owner fills out a brief form with basic information about the tool.  Then the Common Solutions Team works to determine how best to offer up the tool to other academic staff.

Contributions should be made by the owner of the tool, or in close collaboration with the owner. For our purposes, an owner is defined as the home department that developed and maintains the tool.

Looking for a tool?

The process for requesting a new tool is simple. Anyone who needs a solution/tool submits a brief form with a basic description of the need to be filled. The form is also a way to let us know of a department that already has a tool others could use. Once we receive the filled-out form, the Common Solutions Team works with subject matter experts to determine if a solution/tool is available either in a local unit or centrally that could be shared or scaled for use by other academic staff.

Vetting, adopting, and maintaining tools

To ensure the tools are ready for broader adoption and to comply with campus policies and regulations, the Common Solutions Team will meet at least once a quarter, or more often as needed, to review new submissions to the inventory. The Team will coordinate with the home department to obtain any missing information and answers to questions that may surface during this process.

The Common Solutions Team will also be responsible for consulting all appropriate groups, including campus functional owners. For example, the Academic Personnel Office will be consulted to ensure AP tools are consistent with policies Berkeley must follow for merit and promotion, faculty hiring, etc. Similarly the Chief Financial Officer’s Office will be consulted for finance tools, and Information Services & Technology will be asked to review certain tools for security, privacy, viruses, malware, etc. in advance of offering up the tools to a broad range of academic units.

Once approved, each tool will be featured in the Common Solutions Inventory in an at-a-glance summary with key characteristics, including: tool name, description, owner, application, target audience, contact information, notes, and/or links to available support and training materials. Whenever possible, support and training materials will be produced or updated jointly with the owner of the tool, taking into consideration the potential broader scope of users and anticipating expanded capabilities over time.

Some tools will be downloadable directly from the summary page on the Common Solutions website; others may be available through links to a page maintained by the owner of the tool.

Here’s a sample entry:

Tool Name

Owner

Application

Target Audience

Contact

Notes

Endowment Payout Calculator

VC UDAR

Excel

Major Gift Officers, Deans, Administrative Officers

UDAR Fund Management Team

fundhelp@berkeley.edu

Requires CalNet authentication

Description:

The Endowment Payout Calculator enables you to create payout estimates for outright gifts, standard pledges and pledges with complex schedules. It prompts you to enter a few simple parameters:  whether the donation is an outright gift or a pledge paid annually, which month and year the gift is received, and the gift amount. The calculator also enables you to enter a targeted payout figure and then calculate the size of a gift it would take to generate that amount annually. An additional option allows you to add current use gifts to supplement payout while a fund is being capitalized with pledge payments.

The calculator is in Excel and requires that you enable macros and content upon opening - it will prompt you to do this. All of your data entries will be in a simple form that you will be led through. A separate page is included to describe the parameters and details of the calculation.

Once a tool or set of tools is added to the inventory, the Common Solutions Team will initiate a series of communications to raise awareness about the tool(s). The Team will work with the home department and the campus functional owner to ensure word gets out about what the tool is and who might benefit from using it. Whenever possible, the campus functional owners will take the lead on these communications. They will be encouraged to insert a news item in their existing email newsletters, quarterly meetings with academic staff, websites, and other communication venues. In addition, the Team will arrange for a news item to be posted on the Common Solutions website and for key campus groups (Chief Administrative Officers, managers, etc.) to be briefed periodically about new additions to the inventory.

To help gauge the utility of the tools over time, users will be encouraged to submit comments, including through a Yelp-like feature, and share their experience with the tools.

The Common Solutions Team will coordinate a review/refresh/sunset process annually, in close collaboration with the owners of existing solutions. The primary purpose of this review will be to ensure the usefulness of the inventory over time.