Thursday, September 21, 2017

Reducing redundant purchases, reusing unused supplies, and cutting out unnecessary expenses


ASG Team centralizes office supply purchasing in UVAFinance


Let’s say you’re in charge of making your department’s office supply order (a process you aren’t very familiar with, because you don’t do it often), and you accidentally order a case of file folders instead of one box, and you forget entirely to order the highlighters your colleagues requested. It’s not the worst thing that could happen. Some people will be inconvenienced, and you’ll have to find a place to store the extra boxes of folders until they can be worked through, but it’s not the end of the world, right?

Of course not. But what you didn’t know is that last month, your counterpart in the suite next door ordered seven boxes of highlighters that are gathering dust, and the supplier they use is sold out of the very kind of file folder you have stacks of.


Mariah Kier, Deputy Mayor of Carruthers and ASG
Team Member, with some office supplies ready to
be delivered their new homes.
This summer, the Administrative Services Group within UVAFinance set out to make the procurement of office supplies a smarter, easier, more collaborative process. Their aim was not only reduce waste in supply ordering, but also to provide better, more efficient, and more personal service to all departments within the unit.

They started with a thorough audit of all area supplies: ASG team member Mariah Kier inventoried the storage cabinets and supply closets of all UVAFinance departments and built a database of exactly what was located where.

From there, ASG team member Connie Alexander, with expertise gained from years of work in Procurement & Supplier Diversity Services, took over as the point person for UVAFinance purchasing.

Once per month, she gathers up supply requests from each UVAFinance area. All the orders are sourced through a contract vendor (Supply Room), which results in better pricing for all units. Alexander navigates the purchasing process with ease, making recommendations, answering questions, and generally ensuring that each department gets what it needs at the best price.

Supply delivery is also centralized: the goods Alexander orders come to Kier’s front desk in Carruthers, and are then delivered or picked up without anything being misdirected or misplaced.

Another upside to the new process is that it allows UVAFinance to “shop their stash:” orders are only placed for items that aren’t already a part of the inventory in the central supply database.

Piles of over-ordered supplies have dwindled considerably since the implementation of the new process, and several supply needs have been fulfilled without even having to place an order, which, in some emergency cases, has been one of the biggest benefits.

“I was in a pinch and needed a certain size battery the other day,” said Stacey Rittenhouse, ASG team member.

“Connie was able to look in the database and find some for me right away. Normally I would’ve had to go begging from department to department,” she laughed.

After a small period of adjustment, the ASG team found that the new, streamlined process has been very well received.

“Everyone still gets what they need,” Rittenhouse remarked.

“The difference is that now, it’s easier for everyone within the departments to order, and we also save money. And it’s so much easier to analyze our spending when it’s just one amount for supplies per month,” she said.

______________________

Questions?  Contact Connie Alexander

Outreach and Compliance expands Integrated System Training Resources

Are you looking for information on Finance Training? Do you know what training you need to take to get access to the Integrated System? Check out the Finance Outreach and Compliance website, foc.virginia.edu/training for training information, access to resources, online tutorials, questions and answers, and more!

Under Finance Training, you’ll find a list of the instructor-led and online courses offered for finance and business professionals, and information about Brown Bag training sessions.

We have recently added more information and resources to the Integrated System Training section, including a description of the Finance modules of the Integrated System, links to information on the process for gaining access to the system and to ESHARP, and instructions for subscribing to learning paths for system responsibility and for enrolling in training.

If you are unsure what system responsibility you need, you can read about each one in the Responsibility Descriptions section, which also indicates if training is required or recommended.

Our newly expanded Resources and Help section includes many self-help tools:

  • Video Tutorials offering tips and tricks for topics like setting iProcurement preferences, using the buyer assist form, and using online help. 
  • Job aids and Q&As – quick answers or printable PDFs with step-by-step instructions for the most commonly asked questions
  • Training Guides are available for the Purchasing, Accounts Payable, Grants Management, and General Ledger modules. You can use the Table of Contents to go to exactly the section you need. (It is not advisable to print and use entire guides, as they are frequently updated.)
  • System Help and Support – instructions for accessing the HR-Finance User Group Community, online self-help, and contact information for Finance and UBI training, ESHARP, and technical issues

Let us know if you need additional videos, job aids, and training guides. Also let us know if you have suggestions for improvement for the training pages. You may contact the Finance training team at foc-training@virginia.edu.

Stay in the know: Join the Policy Listserv!

We all have a lot to keep up with in our daily work:  approaching deadlines, shifting priorities, big projects, and "other duties as assigned."  How can we possibly keep up with policy changes? 

Policies are important because they communicate our shared values, set clear expectations for behavior or performance, and demonstrate institutional commitment to meeting external requirements and standards.

The Policy Listserv makes it a lot easier for busy staff to get news of changes, and the Policy Directory, a centrally-managed repository for policies that impact two or more VP areas, is also a great, searchable resource to bookmark. 

The Policy Directory offers search functionality by policy number, title, or keyword or you can browse policies based on contact office, oversight executive, or category. 

You can join the Policy Listserve by emailing Lynn Mitchell, University Policy Manager, to be notified when changes and additions are made to the Policy Directory.     

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes in UVAFinance to update our existing policies and migrate them into the Policy Directory. 

Current efforts are focused on updating policies related to account reconciliation, monitoring cash balances, effort reporting, consistent allocation of costs, and lease vs. purchase.  If you have suggestions for policies that need to be deleted, modified, or created please contact Kelly Hochstetler.


UVAFinance isn’t the only area updating policies; new Information Security policies have been approved and will roll out later this fall.  

UBI SIS Demo Sessions Offer Guidance to New SIS Users

During the last two fiscal years, the Managerial Reporting Project (MRP) Team has introduced the UBI reporting environment to the University and continues to deliver new modules of the UBI reporting tool - primarily to the Finance-related community of users. Well ahead of the planned December 31 sunset for Discoverer reports, MRP is releasing new SIS reporting modules regularly with each update to UBI.

Throughout the month of August, MRP held a series of introductory presentations about UBI and student reporting. The sessions were created to demonstrate the basic functionality of UBI and show the new UBI SIS Class Scheduling module.

Leading the UBI SIS Demos was Mark Anderson, Business Intelligence Lead for Managerial Reporting, assisted by Gregory Ball, Project Analyst for MRP. The MRP Team set out with the purpose of making sure that potential users would have a chance to hear more about the project, see a brief demo, and ask questions or raise any concerns that they might have.

“I was very pleased with the turnout and participation,” Anderson said. “Users seem to be open to the coming changes and the planned [UBI] adoption process.”

The demo sessions focused on informing (or reminding) new UBI users of the rationale behind the UBI MRP project, such as improved reporting and analytics capabilities, as well as the impending sunset and loss of support for Discoverer.

Highlights of the sessions were describing the process for collecting user requirements and migrating current reports from Discoverer to UBI, showing a demo of the UBI Class Scheduling module, and discussing the resources – such as training and support – available to users to assist them during the transition. The timeline for testing and production rollout, in addition to the adoption program, were also communicated.

Another aspect of the sessions was communicating the timeline for migration to SIS users, while addressing the need for users to adopt UBI. Anderson noted the team behind UBI is prepared for the pending sunset of SIS reporting in Discoverer.

“The timeline is going to be much shorter than we had for Finance, but our team is better prepared,” Anderson added, “and we have the lessons we learned from the Finance adoption. So, in some ways, I think the shorter timeline will be beneficial to our stakeholders.”

As for takeaways from the demo sessions, Anderson hopes as users become more familiar with the new reporting tool they will collaborate with the MRP Team during the transition to fine-tune and improve University reporting and analytics capabilities. “Our team has a process in place to capture user requirements and we are involving and partnering with the SIS community throughout the process.

“We know that we won’t get everything exactly right on the first pass but our process is structured to collect feedback and respond rapidly to unmet needs.”

Anderson recommends the best way for users to prepare for the change is to take advantage of training opportunities and to use the new UBI reports as they become available. “[Users] can send us feedback and get comfortable well before Discoverer goes offline this winter.”



This story was originally featured in the UBI Community.




Friday, September 15, 2017

Upcoming Training: September through December

Finance Outreach and Compliance hopes 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


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!

September 27, 12:00-1:30
Presented by Jason Belford, Chief Information Security Officer
2400 Old Ivy Rd., room 189
Complimentary tasting offered by Mezeh Mediterranean Grill (same as August)

The Power of Print

A representative from UVA Printing and Copying Services will present information on how to use print materials in your communication plan. Successful communication today depends on the use of multiple channels: digital, personal, and print. You will see how you can use print to further your mission, as well as review the steps involved in creating a print job quickly, painlessly, and in a cost-effective manner.

October 11, 12:00-1:30
Presented by Josef Beery, UVA Printing and Copying Services
Carruthers Hall, Carr-1 and Carr-2
Complimentary tasting TBD

Sustainability and UVA’s Green Workplace Program

Do you know about UVA’s Green Workplace Program? Team members from the Office for Sustainability will join us to discuss actions we can all take to conserve energy, advance sustainability at UVA, and even save money! Come join your colleagues for this session to hear more about the Green Workplace program, the certification program, and other ways to increase sustainability efforts at UVA.

Tuesday, November 7, 12:00-1:30
Presented by Dana Schroeder, UVA Office for Sustainability
Carruthers Hall, Carr-1 and Carr-2
Complimentary tasting TBD



Courses, Workshops, and Labs


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.

September 26, 1:30-4:30 (Only 1 seat left!)
October 10, 1:30-4:30
October 24, 1:30-4:30
November 14, 1:30-4:30
November 28, 1:30-4:30
December 12, 1:30-4:30
All sessions are held in Carruthers Hall, Conference room 2

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.

November 9, 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 

September 27, 2:30-4:30 pm
October 24, 9:00-11:00 am
November 16, 1:00-3:00 pm
December 14, 9:00-11:00 am
All sessions held at 2400 Old Ivy Road, room 136



If you have any questions, suggestions, or need to discuss training needs, please contact us at foc-training@virginia.edu. Please check out our training pages at foc.virginia.edu/training.


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



Open Enrollment Begins October 9!

Take a moment to put a reminder on your calendar for October 9, the beginning of Open Enrollment  (or, sign up for reminder text messages).  

Between now and October 9, spend some time reviewing how you've used your benefits this year and assessing what your 2018 needs will be.  

Access your spending and use information by visiting the following websites:

After reviewing your 2017 benefits use, consider if this year has been typical as far as your usage and needs. What services do you (and anyone covered by your benefits) anticipate continuing into 2018? Think about the following:
  • Any medical or dental procedures planned? 
  • Time for new glasses or contact lenses? 
  • Any changes to dependent care? 
  • Time to replace or update medical or assistive devices? 
  • Any life events you expect, such as household or dependent changes?
Questions about open enrollment? Contact the HR Service Team at AskHR@virginia.edu or 434.982.0123.

Friday, September 8, 2017

“It’s about customer service":UVAFinance unit pitches in to help Student Financial Services during the back to school rush

The start of every fall term is hectic in Student Financial Services (SFS), as new Hoos and their families arrive on Grounds with a multitude of questions about financial aid packages. Every year, just before and just after the start of classes, SFS receives thousands of questions from students and parents, in person, via email, and via phone.

For SFS, those two weeks are “all hands on deck.” Nobody takes a day off, nobody goes out to lunch, and everyone lends a hand on the phones. The pace is fast and the days are long as everyone strives to address student concerns accurately and quickly. SFS staffers admit it can be a challenging, even draining, time of the year.

This year, SFS got unexpected and very welcome help from UVAFinance’s new Administrative Services Group (ASG).

Made up of administrative professionals from all UVAFinance departments, ASG provides comprehensive and coordinated administrative services to all of UVAFinance. And they don’t wait for requests to come to them – they actively look for ways to help.

ASG member Mary Fields, who works in SFS, shared with her group that a “peak time” was coming for SFS, and her fellow team members were quick to offer their assistance.

“They volunteered out of thin air,” said Steve Kimata, Assistant Vice President, Student Financial Aid.

Kimata says that ASG leader Disha Venkatesan’s offer of the group’s help was most welcome, and they quickly found places for the ASG volunteers.

“We provide lunch for all of our staffers during our three busiest days,” Kimata said. “The ASG members coordinated the delivery, set up, and cleanup of lunch for our staff members. It was a simple task, but it made such a difference because we simply didn’t have a spare pair of hands to take care of it.”

Mariah Kier, who runs the front desk in Carruthers Hall, is a member of the ASG team. In her post at Carruthers Hall’s main entrance, Kier began to see an increase in student/parent traffic, some of whom were frustrated by the fact that they had to walk around the side of the building (not through it) to get to SFS. While she was already redirecting those visitors to the SFS entrance on the other side of the building, Kier felt there might be more she could do to help.

“One of Mariah’s suggestions, based on what she had been seeing, was to create new signage around Carruthers Hall to help students and parents find their way without the wrong turns,” Kimata explained.

Kier developed and posted the new signage, which had street-view pictures and a series of progressive steps to take posted along the way, and both she and SFS could tell an immediate difference in the ease with which students found the right office.

Not only that but also, Kimata armed Kier with some frequently asked questions and answers on some very basic topics that allowed her to be even more helpful and reassuring to Carruthers Hall visitors.

ASG volunteers also helped out in the SFS lobby.

Venkatesan was one of the volunteers who assisted students both in the lobby and outside the door to SFS.

“There in the lobby, we would have students come with confusion in their eyes, asking us questions, and we could direct them to where they needed to go,” she said, adding that she and fellow volunteers also helped students and parents who were standing in line to get into the SFS entrance. ASG volunteers guided students and parents who arrived after closing time know when to come back, answered simple questions and offered reassurance.

On one rainy afternoon, Venkatesan even ran back and forth under the SFS awning to alert students and parents waiting in the foyer of the arrival of their Uber ride.

A little unconventional? Yes. But as Venkatesan says, it’s all about customer service.

“We worked as a team and it wasn’t a burden to any one of us. This is a high-stress time for students and parents,” she said. “We were happy to be able to help them and soothe them a bit.”

ASG’s team effort had the same soothing effect their SFS colleagues.

“ASG’s help meant all of the SFS staff could stay in their workflow, and focus on answering student and parent questions about financial aid,” said Chris Doran, SFS Communications Manager.

Kimata agrees, adding, “It was great seeing new faces from all across UVAFinance units come down to help out.”

“They might think it wasn’t a big deal, but it made a big difference,” he said.