Time Management in Higher Education: A Challenge for Academic Leaders


Workforce planning is an essential part of every University department__s administrative work. Teaching duties, research and other internal tasks must be planned from available resources and in accordance with working agreements. For this reason, some universities have implemented time management software solutions to support staffing and planning. This paper reports from a study of such a time management system (TMS), used at Umeå University in Sweden. The TMS was introduced as an instrument for improving time management and resource planning, aiming for more efficiency and correctness, as well as increased fairness and transparency. The study describes how the system was developed and implemented, and also presents results from an evaluation highlighting the consequences for workforce planning by reference to the initial situation. The evaluation comprises interviews with faculty members responsible for staffing at 12 different departments at Umeå University. It is shown that even though the process and rationality of planning did not change fundamentally, when moving from former spreadsheet solutions to a web based TMS, the staff planners perceived an increased quality and precision in their work. In addition the transparency throughout the organization was increased. However, with a system offering new ways of handling data, there was also an increased complexity and workload. Based on the evaluation, the paper discusses the use of TMS in academic contexts, where professions and practices not always are bound to time and place, and where the culture of academic freedom perhaps not fully harmonizes with a systematic, mechanistic approach to workforce planning.

Author Information
Thomas Pettersson, Umea University, Sweden
Daniel Skog, Umea University, Sweden

Paper Information
Conference: IICEHawaii2016
Stream: Educational Policy, Leadership, Management and Administration

This paper is part of the IICEHawaii2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon