Friday, August 18, 2017

Getting the Most out of UBI

A few tips and tricks before we ride off into the sunset


At a recent Fiscal Administrators’ meeting, the UBI Team shared some helpful information on frequent stumbling blocks experienced by UBI users.  In the coming weeks, we’ll recap those tips here on the blog. Check back for more tips during the month of August!



Shades of Gray: What it means to choose an item that’s in gray


What does it mean if you choose an item in gray within UBI? The short answer is, those grayed-out values have no association with what’s selected. If you click on a grayed-out value, it will reset the filters you’ve already applied.

For more information about field colors in UBI, visit UBIC!


Tabs, Tabs Everywhere:  Finding the AccessPoint


When you open a module from the AccessPoint, it opens up in a new tab.  This can make getting back to the access point a little confusing.  The good news is, the AccessPoint is always up above as a browser tab in the background. Users can even go back to the AccessPoint, open up a new module in a completely separate tab on their browser, and run two reports at once.  You don’t have to close down one to run another!




These tips and tricks will be updated regularly during August – check back for more or subscribe to our updates to know when new content is posted. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Complex problems? UBI team offers custom solutions

What do you do when you’re responsible for assuring compliance on a very important point, but you don’t have access to the data you need in order to check for compliance?

This was the problem research administrators across UVA were faced with: charged with helping to ensure that research faculty are in compliance with UVA policy regarding conflict of interest training, administrators found there was no easy way to check.

Some administrators weren’t able to see the data on who had done the training, and some weren’t able to access data on who had disclosed a possible conflict of interest. In effect, there was no simple way for the research administrators to check on who had completed the training vs. who needed to complete the training.

Because non-compliance with conflict of interest puts UVA at considerable risk, this was a pretty sizable problem.

Fortunately, the team from University Business Intelligence has a variety of tools in their toolkit, and they were happy to sit down with Kelly Hochstetler from Outreach and Compliance, as well as Cheryl Wagner from the Office of the Vice President for Research, to tackle the problem and come up with a custom-built solution.

“The UBI team provided us with a lot of options on how we could approach this challenge, as well as different ways we could present the data,” said Hochstetler.

In the end, the UBI team took all the necessary information from many different departments and married it together so that research administrators could easily cross-check the training status of their faculty.

The custom solution they built will be released in UBI on August 18, and will allows users to log in and quickly assess which of their investigators are compliant.

“This tool allows us to be more proactive managing compliance,” said Hochstetler.

“Now, we can ask the research administrators to check the status of their investigators as they process proposals – no surprises later!”

Users of the custom solution will also be able to see the date the investigator's patent policy was signed.
___________________________________________________________________________


Did you know?


UBI is more than a tool!  Have a thorny data problem? Consulting services are available through Engage UBI!

Tax Compliance and Contracting: the most interesting office you may have never heard of

Bill Define, Director of Tax Compliance and Contracting, will be the first to admit that the name of his office sounds a bit dry and technical, and perhaps not the most exciting position at UVA.

“People hear ‘taxes and contracts’ and they think ‘Wow, I’m glad that’s somebody else’ job,’ he laughed.

A man in a navy blazer and blue and white gingham shirt
Bill Define, Director of Tax Compliance and Contracting

“And if it we only handled ordinary, day-to-day tax matters,” he said, “then yes, it would take a lot of coffee to make it through the day. But our contracting responsibilities involve us in a lot of different UVA activities – often some of the most complicated ones – and that makes the job really interesting as well as really challenging at times.”

The Office of Tax Compliance and Contracting is located within the Financial Operations area of UVAFinance. Its primary duties are to ensure UVA’s compliance with all the various tax laws and to manage contracting activities for UVA’s central administration and operational units.

In layman’s terms, the offices’ duties fall in three big buckets: 
  • Institutional Contracting (outside of the areas of Sponsored Programs and Procurement), which includes agreements for student placements, real estate rentals, educational services, art loans, international exchanges, etc.
  • University Tax Compliance, which involves protecting the University’s tax-exempt status and providing guidance and oversight on all tax matters.
  • International entity administration. The Cornerstone plan prioritizes providing a global experience for UVA’s students, and establishing a legal presence is often a requirement for expanding our opportunities for student involvement in foreign countries. In conjunction with the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, Define assists in establishing and operating UVA’s entities in China, France and Italy, with entities in additional countries planned in coming years.

There’s plenty of interesting projects in those buckets, especially the contracting and international administration areas.

For example, the Office of Tax Compliance and Contracting recently assisted in setting up a joint degree program for the McIntire School of Commerce that included study at universities in Spain and China and granted students degrees from all three institutions (“That was a really complex deal both on the financial side and the academic accreditation side,” said Define). The office has also been involved in obtaining artworks for the recent Andy Warhol exhibition at the Fralin Museum, licensing radio airtime for WTJU, and helping to develop a framework for high-tech internships at UVA Wise.

Although he and colleague Tim Lingo, Tax and Contract Administrator, sometimes get involved in high profile projects, Define says the best thing about the work his office does is the synergy and reciprocal relationship with the schools and units.

“We have really strong bonds with the Dean’s offices at just about every school. On the tax side, we have to monitor their activities and keep them compliant, but on the contract side we act as a service unit and help them work through legal and policy issues so their programs can go forward,” he said. “That builds trust with the Dean’s offices and it gives us a chance to be involved with the educational and research missions at the University which can be really satisfying.”

Summer's end is just the beginning for Student Financial Services

August: it’s the end of summer, the last chance to get all the things on your summer ‘to do’ list checked off before school starts. For those of us in academia, it’s the beginning of a fresh new year, a new start.

For Student Financial Services, it’s the season of questions. Between now and August 25th, the office’s phone lines, email inboxes, and lobby will be buzzing with questions from students and parents – questions about financial aid, paying bills, and much more.

 As the SFS team wraps up its participation in 10 Summer Orientation Sessions, where they host a “Money Matters” talk attended mostly by parents, they’ll be ramping up their customer service coverage to make sure the multitude of student and parent concerns are properly and promptly addressed.

At the Money Matters sessions, SFS Communications Manager Chris Doran says the message to parents is simple: Our goal is the same as yours – we want your student to be successful at UVA.

Between now and the end of the first week of classes, that goal will guide ten full-time SFS staffers in the call center and at the front desk (plus numerous other SFS staffers who will pitch in) as they focus on direct customer service to new UVA students and their parents.

“It’s all hands on deck during this time,” Doran said.

Doran says SFS will answer many “frequently asked” student and parent questions in the next couple of weeks: how do I use my 529 college savings plan to pay? How do I use my Veteran’s Administration benefits to pay tuition? How do we incorporate outside scholarships? How does my student pay at laundry facilities? How do I charge items at the bookstore?

Many of the questions SFS staffers get won’t actually come under SFS’s purview, said Doran.

“Because we have the word ‘finance’ in our name, pretty much everything under the sun comes to us,” he said.

Fortunately, SFS staffers are willing and able to answer those questions as well, explaining questions about credit hours and tuition, and referring students to their academic offices as needed.

The days will be long and busy for SFS staffers during this time, but it’s all worth it.

Jenn Bari, who manages the SFS Contact Center, said, “We don’t mind answering the questions and helping students to understand their finances. We have the opportunity every day to impact students’ lives and to help them succeed.”

More than decluttering: Onsite storage cleanup brings many benefits

The junk drawer in the kitchen. The hall closet. The spare room. Under the bed. These are the places that collect clutter in our homes.

Workplaces often have “catch all” locations, too . . . places where you can find old files, ancient office equipment, and musty holiday decorations.

For UVAFinance, this location was the “caged storage” in the Carruthers Hall basement.

a small space with boxes of files on shelves
Caged storage prior to cleanup completion.
For years, departments in Finance had been using their designated space in the basement to store everything from filing cabinets to microfiche. A new plan to renovate the basement space meant that the caged storage got the attention it had long needed, not only in terms of a clean-up, but also in terms of reevaluating records storage.

The newly-formed Administrative Services Group (ASG) within UVAFinance partnered with UVA Records Management to tackle the mess in the basement. Patrick Wood is a member of ASG and fulfills a lead role in records management and retention.

Wood reports that the monumental cleanup effort took a total of seven weeks, and involved a team of nearly a dozen people from UVAFinance and Records Management, working diligently to sort, inventory, and properly dispatch everything.

Caroline Walters, University Records Officer, leads the Records Management Team. It is this team’s job, among many other duties, to assist and guide faculty and staff on the proper management of all records. She has seen many instances of records landing in these “catch all” spaces.

Walters says that one of the hazards of on-site storage is that records often go unmanaged, which isn’t safe for the records and may put the University at risk when it comes to potential audits, Freedom of Information Act requests, and so on.

The group worked in dim, cramped quarters, painstakingly going through stacks of records, boxes of old files, and envelopes of microfiche, determining with Records Management’s careful guidance which to keep and which to destroy.

“It was dusty, dark, dingy, and claustrophobic,” said Wood. “But Caroline Walters and her team from Records management helped us immensely, and we gradually cleared the space out to the point that it’s now well organized, clean and spacious.”

And what happened to all of that . . . stuff?

“We had four loads of shredding, five loads of furniture and equipment taken to surplus, a ton of trash, loads of recycling, and a heap of things sent to Goodwill and the Rose Project. A few things were sent to the University archives,” said Wood.  

And, notably, over 1200 boxes of records were sent out for off-premises storage.

 
“Records Management helped us make decisions on what to keep and what to throw away, and even more importantly, how to manage what we kept so that it was stored safely and accessibly,” said Wood.

“Not only is much of the basement area now clear and ready for additional construction with cleaner, smaller storage spaces still available, but also, we have our records stored in a way that guarantees safety, compliance, and transparency,” he said.

Wood says the ASG team is writing Standard Operating Procedures for UVAFinance departments on how the storage should be used in the future, so the space doesn’t get cluttered up again.

Special thanks to all involved in this project:  Connie Alexander, Cindy Rodgers, Elizabeth Jackson, Caroline Walters, Jessie Graham, Jessica Burgess, Esther Grace, Stacey Rittenhouse, Patrick Wood, Ashley Rogers, Warren “Hubba” Wood, Mary Fields, Lori O’Connor, Ann Criser, Samantha Morris, Dorothy Moyer, Bess Landolt, and Peggy Johnson.

What you need to know about the GL Recon Procedure Updates

As many of you are aware, the General Ledger (GL) Reconciliation Procedure required some updates to work with the new reporting environment, UBI. One of the recent module enhancements to UBI involves General Ledger Reconciliation.

First and foremost, there are no formal changes to the actual GL Reconciliation process – that remains the same. However, the data locations in UBI and printing requirements have been modified with the GL Recon updates.

In the recent UBI Release 5.1, a new tab, “GL Recon Certification," was added in the GL Recon module. The information shown on the GL Recon Certification tab is the only data required to print for auditing purposes (other tabs also allow printing; however, the formatting is limited).

General Ledger Reconciliation Procedure


The GL Reconciliation Procedure includes helpful, step-by-step instructions for assisting departments and users with their monthly GL Reconciliation and certification. Also found within the GL Reconciliation Procedure are definitions, documentation, checklists, and resources for assistance. We strongly recommend GL users reference the Procedure when reconciling each month. The GL Reconciliation Procedure may be downloaded from the FOC website.

Outlined in the Procedure are steps for reconciling monthly accounts in a timely and accurate way within UBI, including the following GL Reconciliation UBI walkthroughs (and modules below):

Finding GL Recon Reports in UBI

  • GL_Cash_Balance_Summary 
  • GL_Details_Recon 
  • GL_Recon_Certification (Tab) 

Preparer (Fiscal Contact) Procedure

  • GL_Cash_Balance_Summary 
  • GL_Detail 
  • GL_Recon_Certification (Tab) 


Approver (Project Approver/Manager) Procedure

  • GL_Cash_Balance_Summary 
  • GL_Details_Recon 

Please review the following sections below for information on the updates, what’s changed (or not), and any actions needed moving forward.

How does this change affect GL reporting?


All FY18 GL recons are expected to work in UBI, including the recon for July, due August 15. The UBI Team is also developing a permanent solution for printing within UBI to update within a future release.

Please remember the planned sunset for GL reporting in Discoverer is August 31, 2017.

Resources


The GL Reconciliation Procedure, a handy PDF reference guide with walkthroughs and directions, is your source for the GL recon process. Any enhancements or updates to the UBI modules or the GL recon process will be amended in the GL Reconciliation Procedure, available on the FOC website.

For any questions regarding General Ledger Reconciliation, please feel free to email recon@virginia.edu. Danielle Hancock, Training & Development Specialist with FOC, will be holding training classes and labs covering the GL Recon Procedure – please note the FOC training calendar for upcoming dates. Have questions regarding the GL Recon module(s) and reporting within UBI? Please email the UBI Team or check out the UBI Community, a support community packed with trainings and tutorials, release notes, and helpful answers provided by subject experts, fellow users, and the UBI Team.

August & September Training Opportunities

Listed below are upcoming courses, workshops, labs, and Brown Bag Sessions for August and September 2017. 

We hope you will take advantage of these professional development opportunities for finance professionals. Links to enroll via Employee Self-Service are available from the Events section on the Finance Outreach and Compliance website at http://foc.virginia.edu/.

Brown Bag Sessions
                                                                                                                           
  • Using UBI: Tips and Tricks
Discoverer will soon be unavailable for GA, GL, and LD reporting, but like many, you may be reluctant to start using UBI to run your reports. In this session, you will learn about basic navigational tips, how to tag favorites, best practices for exporting and printing data, and customizing and sharing reports. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the UBI Community. This course offers tips for using UBI and is not meant to replace the Introduction to UBI or Advanced UBI courses.
o   August 23, 12:00-2:00 pm
o   Presented by Ashley Bagby, Managerial Reporting Project
o   Carruthers Hall, Conference rooms 1 and 2

  • SecureUVA: Ways to Avoid Hacking and Phishing
Whether you are trying to protect your bank account or the University’s financial systems, this presentation will give you great information about identifying malicious activity. Using some easy to follow tips and techniques, you will take control over the security of your information. Topics include how to choose an easy to remember, secure password; protect your mobile device; identifying “phishy” email; and more!
o   September 27, 12:00-1:30
o   Presented by Jason Belford, Chief Information Security Officer
o   2400 Old Ivy Rd., room 189

Courses, Workshops, and Labs
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  • Finance Fundamentals
What is UVA’s mission? What is the Code of Ethics and why is it important? What is the organizational structure of UVA and where do you fit in? What is a PTAEO? What are the sources of revenue at UVA and how are funds processed? What do you need to know about internal controls, and what are some best practices to follow? In this class you will get answers to these questions and more, as well as have an opportunity to interact and network with other administrative professionals. This class is a required course for access to the finance applications in the Integrated System, but is also open to anyone who wants to learn about UVA’s financial operations.

    • August 22, 1:30-4:30
    • September 12, 1:30-4:30
    • September 26, 1:30-4:30
    • All sessions are held in Carruthers Hall, Conference room 2

  • Reconciling General Ledger Revenue – New Class!
To maintain strong Internal Control standards, it is important to reconcile your revenue accounts as well as your expenditure accounts. This course is diesgned to help UVA staff and faculty who prepare, review, and approve revenue reconciliations navigate the General Ledger (GL) revenue reconciliation process at UVA using University Business Intelligence (UBI). We will discuss how accurately complete your monthly revenue reconciliations in compliance with UVA policy and procedures.
o   September 5, 1:30-4:00
o   All session held in Carruthers Hall, Conference room 2

  • Reconciling General Ledger Revenue: Lab – New Class!
Do you need help with the new Monthly GL Reconciliation Procedure? During this lab, you will be able to log into UBI and complete your monthly revenue reconciliation with help from the UVAFinance team. IMPORTANT: This a lab where you can bring your work with you to get help in completing your revenue reconciliations using the new procedure. It is not intended to replace the instructor-led, Reconciling General Ledger Revenue class where you learn about policy and procedure.
o   September 6, 1:30-4:00
o   All sessions held at 2400 Old Ivy Road, room 136

  • Reconciling Expenditures in Recon@UVA (formerly Mastering Account Reconciliations)
All departments spend money, whether it is for office supplies, equipment, or personnel. It is important to reconcile these purchases each month to maintain strong internal control standards. This course is designed to help UVA staff and faculty who prepare, review and approve expenditure reconciliations navigate these processes in the Recon@UVA system. We will discuss how to accurately complete monthly expenditure reconciliations for transactions that occur in the Integrated System’s Grants Management (GM) module in compliance with UVA policy and procedures.
    • September 14, 1:30-4:00
    • Carruthers Hall, Carr-2

  • ExpenseUVA: Lab
Do you need help with UVA's new expense management system, ExpenseUVA? During this lab, you will be able to log into the live system and submit expense reports help from the UVAFinance team. You will also learn where to go for resources and help. IMPORTANT: This class is a lab where you can come for help with entering actual expenses, and is not intended to replace the online training. Please complete the Expense Management System - Online Training prior to attending the lab and bring your work with you. Please arrive at the stated time of the class and then stay as long as you like. For immediate training and help, please refer to the online training Expense Management System - Online Training
    • August 17, 1:00-3:00 pm
    • August 28, 9:00-11:00 am
    • All sessions held at 2400 Old Ivy Road, room 136

Also, there is still space in the Fall 2017 Certified Research Administrator (CRA) Review Course, a weekly series beginning August 17. Click HERE for more information.

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or need to discuss training needs, please contact us at foc-training@virginia.edu.


Feel free to forward this information to other colleagues, and managers, please forward to your staff.  Looking forward to seeing you soon!