TSS: Common Questions Answered

Last Update: March 2015


What is Tufts Support Services?
How is Tufts Support Services structured?
What guiding principles went into the way TSS is structured?
Why did we implement TSS?
How does this support Tufts’ core mission?
What administrative services does TSS provide?
What administrative services do the schools and divisions provide?
Can TSS handle unique or complex needs and requests?
How do I access TSS services?
What resources are available to help people learn how to use TSS?
What was the process for selecting candidates to fill TSS positions?

TSS OVERVIEW

What is Tufts Support Services?


Tufts Support Services (TSS) is a new department within Tufts University that supports an improved model for delivering services to Tufts faculty, staff and student-employees. Tufts has consolidated resources to provide a simple, service-oriented approach to conducting many of the administrative human resources and finance tasks previously carried out by many different groups within the university.

The development and launch of TSS is one of many initiatives within the Tufts Effectiveness in Administrative Management (TEAM) Program, a university-wide project designed to ensure that our administration supports Tufts’ core academic mission while also serving as a responsible steward of the resources entrusted to us.


How is Tufts Support Services structured?


Tufts Support Services (TSS) is an operating division of the Office of the Executive Vice President and led by Senior Director of TSS, Dick Doolin.

TSS is structured to make administrative tasks as efficient and convenient as possible. Internally, TSS is organized into three tiers, each focused on a unique set of tasks: client service, human resources or finance. Each group is overseen by a director and employs varying levels of support staff:

  • Tier one handles the vast majority of inquiries TSS receives, such as answering basic questions about human resources or finance policies and procedures and creating and updating vendor profiles for procurement.
  • Tier two handles more complex issues related to Human Resources and Finance such as payroll, data administration, tax reporting and procurement.
  • TSS sends more complex issues or questions to central Finance or Human Resources. This is considered Tier three.

TSS is structured in a way that ensures a qualified person is available to handle issues, even if another team member is out sick or on vacation. In the past, many Tufts faculty and staff have relied on a particular individual to handle specific issues. If their point person was unavailable, faculty and staff had to wait for that person to return. TSS team members are available five days a week, with after-hours support available through the web portal, making such delays in service far less probable.


What guiding principles went into the way TSS is structured?


One of the goals of TSS was to make services accessible and consistent to the entire Tufts community across all three campuses and departments. In addition to a supportive and friendly experience, Tufts also set out to provide a highly professional service center that continually assesses and improves its performance.

To these ends, TSS is structured as a unified team. Requests come in through a single phone number, web portal and email address. This ensures a consistent level of service across all three campuses and removes confusion over whom to call about human resources or finance issues. The tiered structure of TSS helps ensure that service requests are sent to the individual or division that can handle them with minimum delay.

Further, TSS is set up to track its own performance. TSS uses a constituent relationship management (CRM) system that continually tracks things like the number of requests for services received, the average time it takes to handle individual cases, the number of open cases at any given time, and the most common questions and issues. These metrics help measure progress toward TSS’ performance goals and identify areas for improvement.


Why did we implement TSS?


Both TEAM and TSS are part of the Tufts strategic plan, Tufts: The Next 10 Years (T10), which identified Tufts’ intent to improve the way work is organized and services are delivered to faculty, staff and students.

During the TEAM assessment process, we identified many duplicative efforts that were being performed across the university. For example, of the almost 4,000 inquiries Human Resources receives each month, most are general questions that can be managed by a specialized group of employees, well versed in HR policy and procedure. Providing this service within TSS allows central HR employees to focus on more complex issues that require specialized knowledge.


How does this support Tufts’ core mission?


Every dollar spent on duplicative administrative functions and services at Tufts is a dollar that has been subtracted from our core mission of teaching, research and public service. By bringing administrative tasks into a specialized unit like TSS, the university can provide consistently high-quality service, improve accuracy, minimize the duplication of effort and reduce costs. As a result, Tufts’ faculty and staff can focus more time and resources on work that supports our core missions.


TSS SERVICES

What administrative services does TSS provide?


TSS answers questions about and provides direct support for human resources and finance-related administrative services. Visit the TSS web portal for a list of services or contact TSS by email, phone (617-627-7000), or in person at one of the three campus locations to ask about a specific service.


What administrative services do the schools and divisions provide?


In general, schools and divisions continue to be responsible for strategic HR and finance-related processes and those that involve mid-to-high level approval(s) within the organization.

If you are not sure whether or not a specific service is provided by TSS, the best thing to do is ask. TSS staff can either provide direct support or help you find the group that can handle your specific issue.


Can TSS handle unique or complex needs and requests?


TSS staff members are trained in university policies and procedures and know how to handle an extensive array of scenarios. In the case of unique or complex needs and requests, TSS staff maintain close relationships with Human Resources and Finance staff across all three campuses and refer issues that cannot be immediately addressed by a TSS staff member.


How do I access TSS services?


You can access TSS via the TSS web portal, email, phone, fax, US postal service or interoffice mail. The contact information and walk-in center locations are listed on the TSS web portal.


Transition to TSS

What resources are available to help people learn how to use TSS?


A number of resources are available to help familiarize the Tufts community with TSS:

  • The TSS web portal has links to a wide variety of articles and “How-To” videos that explain how to complete various tasks through TSS.
  • Each campus has a TSS walk-in center where you can go for face-to-face assistance.
  • You can call or email TSS with questions about what services it provides and how to use them. The TSS web portal provides complete contact information.

What was the process for selecting candidates to fill TSS positions?


All TSS positions were posted in early September on the Work@Tufts website and filled according to Tufts’ existing HR policies and procedures. Human Resources worked closely with TSS hiring managers and the Office of Equal Opportunity to ensure all ADA requirements for reasonable accommodation were met during the hiring process.

Human Resources will continue to post open TSS positions so that interested Tufts employees have the opportunity to apply for them.