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Operational Excellence began with two projects to improve administrative processes.
In choosing the first two projects, leaders wanted to target initiatives that would have a
significant impact across the University if addressed. They selected the
staff hiring process
and the way the University makes small-dollar purchases.

Though the Early Impact Staff Hiring and Procurement projects are complete,
Operational Excellence continues to follow and celebrate progress in EHRA-NF/SHRA
hiring and small-dollar spending. The success of these two initiatives has given the
Operational Excellence team and the entire campus momentum for future work.

Goals & Impact

Project Goal

One of the main goals of the Early Impact Procurement project was for 95% of transactions less than $250 to be completed using one of the University’s preferred purchasing methods. Prior to the initiative, the University baseline was 73%.

Project Impact

At the project hand-off with the Office of Finance and Operations in December 2019, 89% of small-dollar transactions across the University were processed using one of the preferred payment methods, compared to only 65% in July 2019.

As of May 2020, 84% of small-dollar transactions across the University are processed using one of the preferred purchasing methods.



External benchmarks show reimbursing an employee for a purchase of less than $250 costs the University between $50 to $200 in staff hours to process. Additionally, the University’s limited ability to track money spent with certain vendors or on specific categories of items led the team to focus on reducing the number of unnecessary vouchers for transactions less than $250 and creating a better tracking system.

Process & Output

A simple and efficient process was needed to help guide employees to make the best purchasing decisions and provide the University the ability to track money spent by vendor and by category.

A team of Carolina employee experts worked to create easy-to-navigate tools to allow users to determine the most cost-effective purchasing method.

The following four tools were designed, tested and launched across the University.

  • Purchasing Decision Tree: Tool to help users determine the most appropriate purchasing method for each purchase. Training sessions ensure users are familiar with existing and new purchasing resources. Click here to access the decision tree on the Finance and Operations website.
  • P-Card Process Checklist: Streamlined checklist to complete P-Card transactions eliminating unnecessary steps the team discovered were commonly taken by several campus units. Click here to access the checklist on the Finance and Operations website.
  • Procurement – Low Dollar Spend Dashboard: Tool to track purchasing decisions and help identify and prioritize areas of improvement for procurement and purchasing teams. The dashboard allows senior leaders to see the progress in their units, and provide guidance and support when needed. Click here to sign in with your Onyen and access the dashboards on the Carolina Analytics Portal.
  • War Rooms: Meetings to track progress and identify obstacles to improve how the University makes purchases and to provide support for unit leaders by sharing information and suggestions to improve.

The new tools created clarity for how purchasers should act, alongside more transparency into performance, enabling procurement managers to take full ownership in driving proactive changes for how their unit spends its funds. With this new process, less time is spent processing small-dollar vouchers, freeing employees to focus more on strategic activities. Additionally, the dashboard empowers teams to make decisions, provides units consistent guidance and allows the University the ability to track how much money is spent by vendor and by category.

The procurement process tools were rolled out to the first cohort of University participants in February 2019 and were implemented in all schools and units by the end of 2019. For the full schedule, see the timeline.


The Carolina employees below worked as part of the design team to rethink small-dollar spending.

Aaron York, Assistant Director of Business Operations for Athletics
Ammar Yameen, Director of eProcurement and Materials Management, Finance & Operations
Beau Jimmerson, Chief Procurement Officer and Executive Director of Payroll and Materials Management, Finance & Operations
Chase Debnam, Psychology and Neuroscience Accounting Manager, College of Arts & Sciences
Dan Boughton, Associate Chair of Administration, Radiology, School of Medicine
Hua Shen, Accountant, Procurement Services Operations, Finance & Operations
Janet Rupert, Director of Accounts Payable and Travel Services, Finance & Operations
Jessica Hwang-Strickland, Director of Procurement Services Operations
Karla-Marie Santiago Meléndez, Director of Finance and Operations – Student and Graduate Clinics in Office of Clinical Affairs, School of Dentistry
Kelly Smith, Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration, School of Social Work
Mark Richardson, Senior Director of Accounting Services, College of Arts & Sciences Deans Office
Shannon Taylor, Account Manager, Kenan-Flagler Business School
Travis Henderson, Director of Procurement Services and Materials Management, Finance & Operations
Troy Morse, Director of Purchasing Services, Finance & Operations
Warren Ray, UBC Business Officer, Vice Provost of Academic Officers, Office of the Provost