ND Innovates: Looking for your ideas to increase efficiency and effectiveness


Nd Campus

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series about ND Innovates. Look for an installment in each issue of NDWorks over the next several months. 


In October, University leadership introduced ND Innovates, an initiative intended to increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Notre Dame. 

In an email, President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Provost Thomas G. Burish and Executive Vice President John F. Affleck-Graves asked faculty and staff to reflect on the community’s shared responsibility to steward well the University’s human, physical and financial resources. The leaders invited employees to identify areas for improvement and submit them to innovates.nd.edu. Financial savings from the implementation of these ideas will go to student financial aid.

“Our shared responsibility to each other, to our students and to the mission of Notre Dame requires us to redouble our efforts to find ways to identify additional funds that will allow us to continue to provide highly qualified students the ability to afford a Notre Dame education no matter what their family income,” the letter states. 

The Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research, led by Vice President David Bailey, reviews the submissions, distributes them to the units responsible for potential implementation, helps develop solutions and monitors progress.

“Whatever we can do to make us better stewards of Notre Dame’s resources and the Earth’s resources, we’re going to do,” says Bailey. “It is consistent with the University’s mission and our Catholic character.”

Since the launch of ND Innovates, faculty and staff have submitted more than 130 ideas. The vast majority of the ideas are considered viable, and campus stakeholders are exploring how to implement them. Topics cover everything from implementing more efficient procurement processes to offering alternative work schedules to instituting even more sustainability practices. In fact, there are more sustainability ideas than any other area. 

Two major ND Innovates projects are already in process: optimizing the use of printers in administrative offices, starting with Main Building, Grace Hall and Eddy Street Commons; and creating a procure-to-pay process that will identify products frequently purchased across campus, buying in bulk and instituting a simplified electronic process for offices to pay for the products.

“We want to create a new buying experience for our faculty and staff. The system should be easy to use, and help them acquire the goods or services they need,” explains Gilberto Carles, senior director of procurement services. 

The new marketplace, similar in concept to Amazon.com, would include all the institution’s strategic suppliers under contract, allowing departments and offices to buy what they need while achieving negotiated savings for the University. 

“Integrating the procure-to-pay system and increasing utilization will provide us with better data to understand the University’s purchasing patterns, which will help us negotiate better contracts in the future, leveraging all of our expenditures,” says Carles.

The University continues to accept idea submissions through innovates.nd.edu. Prizes will be awarded to those who submitted the ideas that are implemented. Since some ideas are submitted by more than one person, the person who submitted the idea first will receive the award. 


Innovative ideas!
There have been over 130 ideas submitted to innovates.nd.edu. Some ideas were repeated (more than one person had the idea) or not viable. Eighty-two ideas are in various stages of implementation. 

Here are the categories:

•  Sustainability (34 percent)

•  Services (14 percent)

•  Processes (12 percent)

•  Procurement (11 percent)

•  Policies (11 percent)

•  Alternative work schedules
   (9 percent)

• Miscellaneous (9 percent)