CSU Synergy

Current Synergy Initiatives

Impact. Benefits. Improved Outcomes.

Common Financial System

Implementation of the Common Financial System (CFS) for Fiscal Year 2011-12 represented a significant synergistic success. Redundant campus-based financial system modifications were eliminated, baseline functionality for campuses was improved, and now a single database is used to manage the financial records of the University. Development, maintenance and operation of the system is managed at a single point, including any modifications or upgrades to the PeopleSoft baseline code, saving the CSU millions of dollars in systems installation, upgrade and maintenance costs. The data warehouse installed with the CFS has also greatly improved the efficiency and effectiveness of financial reporting systemwide. Opportunities to improve and leverage CFS are underway.

Common Human Resources System

A systemwide effort is underway to standardize Human Resource business processes and practices to maximize uniformity of data and the consistency of reporting. The cornerstone of this effort is the planned implementation of the Common Human Resources System (CHRS). Similar to the CFS, the CHRS intends to centralize systemwide human resource data into a single database and install an accompanying data warehouse. The effort will offer the same synergies and savings opportunities in the millions of dollars as are being realized with the CFS. Additionally, the effort will enable required coordination with new statewide systems which seek to improve the technology that supports the human resources and payroll functions.

Next Generation Cyberinfrastructure

Presently, the CSU is operating over 70 data centers across the university. These require significant ongoing investment to maintain. The CSU Next Generation Cyberinfrastructure strategy guides the consolidation of CSU data centers with the intent of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies of operations as has been accomplished under the Common Network Initiative (CNI). That initiative, which was initiated over twn years ago, is a systemwide shared services and purchasing effort that has deployed standardized network equipment and configurations for all campuses. Before CNI, each campus location separately designed and procured their networks. Campus networking equipment is now procured centrally at a reduced cost and then deploys the equipment following a standard methodology that is used for each campus. Over the past decade, purchasing equipment and services as a single entity instead of individual campuses has resulted in over $77 million in savings.

Replacement of the majority of CSU data centers (Goal: no fewer than 90% of the campus data centers by the end of 2015) with a reliable, secure, shared, virtual, CSU Cloud environment will result in millions of dollars in savings over the course of years. The sources of these savings include advances in server virtualization, new opportunities in cloud-based services, improvements in server, firewall and network technologies as well as reductions in associated utility and other operating costs.

Virtual Network Operations Center

The Virtual Network Operations Center (VNOC) provides network monitoring services to multiple campuses with a single team of network analysts from across the system. This allows network monitoring services to be provided efficiently to multiple campuses, eliminating duplicative monitoring on individual campuses. In addition, efficiencies are also being realized through standardization of change management activities. Presently, half the CSU campuses are a part of the VNOC. Network management services have been improved by developing and utilizing consistent, standards-based operational practices. The VNOC demonstrates that network management activities can be performed effectively and efficiently by a virtual CSU team and that costs can be well managed as quality of services are increased.

Virtual Information Security Center

In 2010, the Virtual Information Security Center became the first successful Synergy virtual shared service center implemented within the CSU. Information security risks were reduced through the implementation of consistent procedures and use of a common set of tools. Efficiencies of scale have been achieved, especially for services requiring focused expertise that is not easily sustainable at individual campuses (e.g., incident management, forensics, application service provider reviews, risk assessment and management, change management, and vulnerability scans). The initiative continues to be improved and presently provides support services to over half the campuses. The center's services are being expanded and transformed, including implementation of automated security governance software available to all CSU campuses.

Procure-to-Pay Shared Services

The CSU seeks to more effectively and efficiently use its resources in conducting the business of procurement and payment for goods and services, and also seeks to streamline current processes that are often redundant, fractured, highly variant, and prone to rework. The Procure-to-Pay (P2P) Shared Services effort intends to improve the quality of processes, reduce costs, simplify the user experience, maintain campuses' ability to meet compliance requirements, and enable shared services. Implementing such changes in conjunction with the Strategic Sourcing Initiative will save million of dollars annually.

Strategic Sourcing

The Strategic Sourcing and related spend analytics is based on a series of best practices and continuous improvement that includes the analysis of the required commodities and services, the available vendors, and the contracts currently in place. It encourages the procurement organization to think creatively about supplier relationships and focus on opportunities to generate savings in targeted spending areas. The initiative intends to support the university's current efforts as well as future programs to reduce costs and gain efficiencies. The Initiative's objectives include quantifying cost reductions, and returning such savings to campus programs.

Cal State Online

Cal State Online is proposed as a new system-level component of the CSU designed to support and supplement CSU academic offerings by facilitating, servicing, publicizing, and developing and providing outreach for online educational programs. The initiative will expand access to CSU academic programs through innovative technology. Academic aspects of programs will be managed by individual campuses. The initiative is expected to lower the costs of delivering such programs by eliminating redundancies which inevitably occur when campuses seek to meet the same challenges separately. Support services and administration of the program will be provided using a shared services model.


Administrative and financial leadership from the CSU and the UC are looking for opportunities to work smarter together. An ongoing dialogue and commitment to collaborate has been established between the two California university systems. Where possible for the benefit of students, faculty and staff. Efforts have begun with regard to compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, procurement, research, information technology, and risk management.

Last Updated: March 04, 2013