Administrative Unit Review Cycles

Structures, Processes, and Value Maximization

Topics: Administration and Finance, Data Driven University, Administrative Dashboards, Executive Dashboards, Organizational Structures

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Administrators at many postsecondary institutions wish to hardwire an administrative unit review process to mirror the structures already in place for academic programs and units.

This research brief examines the organizational structures and reporting lines involved in the administrative review process. Additionally, this brief explores the different review processes in place at several research universities and how other administrators might implement and hardwire this process at their institution.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1.Seven profiled institutions reflect six different models of reporting lines of administrators responsible for administrative unit review processes.

    2.Most commonly, one administrator is responsible for administrative unit reviews and is supported by their direct reports and by a committee of institutional leaders, faculty, and administrators.

    3. Review cycle length varies from yearly to once every 10 years.

    4.Institutions with annual review processes must examine all units each calendar year, which limits the depth of the unit reviews.

    5. Review cycles at intervals between five and 10 years typically consist of a self-study, internal review, external review, final report, and action plan.

    6. The inclusion of an external review team requires a number of different resources; however, the resulting report is one of the most valuable components of a thorough administrative unit review process.

    7.Action plans, implementation agreements, and review follow-ups ensure units execute the recommendations of the review team and work to improve the services their unit provides.

    8. The inclusion of the units’ stakeholders in the review process is a necessity for service quality to improve for the end-user.

    9.Administrators establish a review process that is transparent in nature, but that produces a confidential report balance the need for confidentiality and the need to demonstrate value.

    10.To close the loop between unit reviews and strategic planning, administrative and academic review processes must align and create a base of knowledge and shared understanding that will inform the setting of goals, establishment of initiatives and performance metrics, and the creation of operational plans.