Monday, December 22, 2014

Special Holiday Edition--Finance Holiday Party 2014

For photos of you and your colleagues enjoying the afternoon in the Newcomb Game Room on December 18th, click here.

Wishing everyone a happy and restful holiday season!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Organizational Excellence in Sponsored Programs

The Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) along with ITS is in the midst of constructing an online portal for actions related to external grants and contracts called "ResearchUVA" that will include a dashboard for faculty and administrators so they can view important information about their proposals and awards quickly and easily. An important part of this effort is a collaboration with the Office of Organizational Excellence (OE) to map out the many research administration processes that occur in OSP and throughout the schools from proposal preparation to closeout to determine if there are ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

For example, a working group is currently looking at the process of setting up a “preliminary/at-risk” account; that is, an account that is setup after a faculty member learns an award will be issued, but prior to the official award being received. “Preliminary/at-risk” accounts are extremely useful because they allow for charges to be placed against accounts from the beginning rather than having to perform time-consuming cost transfers.  OSP needs to create these accounts extremely quickly so faculty can start work immediately and charge accounts, so mapping the process and removing any inefficiencies can help ensure these accounts will be available as soon as possible when requested.

Ideally, OE and OSP will simplify research administration processes and incorporate them into ResearchUVA to make life easier for faculty and administration alike.    

Orange Data and Process Improvement Team Update

Did you know there are exactly 750 expenditure types? One of the Orange Teams is in the process of gaining approval to deactivate 61 of these that have never been used. The Expenditure Team also identified 127 low-volume expenditure types (fewer than 100 total entries over the life of the Integrated System), and is vetting them for their deactivation options.

Additionally, the team is updating a top-100 expenditure type reference list. Fiscal Administrators will find this list valuable for selecting the appropriate expenditure type.

The other Orange Teams are working on the details of the PATEO, installment process, cost transfer activities and cross funding. They are all in the process of developing plans to implement their recommendations in this second phase of the Orange Teams.

Excel Tips & Tricks: Tables

A common use of Excel is managing large datasets, which are then filtered, used in pivot tables or referenced in formulas. There is a little-used, but incredibly useful feature in Excel called “Tables,” which makes the formatting, filtering and general use of these datasets much easier.

Learn how to use Tables for:

  • Auto-filtering
  • Freezing column headers for scrolling
  • Natural language references in formulas
  • Auto-filling formulas when new rows are added
  • Resizing the data range for pivot tables
  • Quick Formatting including alternate row shading
  • And more…

Thursday, December 4, 2014

November Staff Senate Highlights

  • The Staff Senate now has a website. Listed there are profiles of Senators organized by areas they represent, committees, meetings and minutes, bylaws, and a suggestion box. Have a look.
  • HR is researching early retirement options. More information should be available in the spring.
  • 12/14 is the deadline to use your 2014 educational benefit if you are a bi-weekly employee. 12/21 is the deadline if you are paid monthly.
  • W-2s will be available electronically on 1/16/15. Send an email to (if you have not already) to consent to receive your W-2 electronically. Otherwise it will be mailed around 1/31/15.
  • If you do not submit a timecard by the deadline—that is, by 10am the Monday following the end of the pay period—you will not be paid until the next pay period. (If you submit your time card on time, but your supervisor does not approve it timely, your time card will go through anyway and you will be paid.) Make sure to submit your time cards as instructed by the HR person in your area.
  • Chris Holstedge, past Faculty Senate Chair, spoke about the organizational structure of the Faculty Senate and its committees.

Excel Tips & Tricks: Format Text and Data for Analysis

As Analysts, we are often faced with large sets of data which may contain text fields. This text is not always in a format or structured in the way we need to use it—especially if we are trying to merge it with other data using VLOOKUP. The attached file contains some examples of formulas that you can use to manipulate the text or data into the format you need to continue with your analysis. &

HPCM and the UFM – a Sneak Peek!

We’re excited to share a sneak peek of an operating statement, produced with the help of Hyperion’s HPCM tool, to visualize the UFM. The sneak peak includes the actual results for Fiscal Year (FY) 14 and for FY15 through October. Within the next several weeks, the summary will also include the FY15 budget using the UFM (a follow-up will be available after the translated FY15 budget is loaded in HPCM).

Click here to read more.

Rosemary Chisholm’s Retirement

“If it wasn’t for the contribution of everyone else, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much.”
–Rosemary Chisholm 

Rosemary Chisholm is retiring—and this is a bittersweet moment for all of us. Rose played an important role transforming technology and reporting at UVa. We will all miss her institutional knowledge and her warm, even-keeled presence across so many teams.

Click here to read more.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

From Melody's Desk: Goals and Survey Results

I appreciate all the great feedback that you provided regarding the goal-setting sessions. As of 11/18, we’ve received 54 responses to the survey…a pretty good response rate overall. If you are curious to see the results, I’ve attached the summary report here. I’ve also passed this on to the Center for Leadership Excellence, as it will help them develop offerings.  I will use the feedback to consider other division-wide training opportunities (more to come in a future blog post). The survey is still open for those of you who have not responded; I would love to hear from you. The link to the anonymous and short (4 questions only) survey is

One excellent piece of feedback from the survey is that it will be helpful for you to know what our overall Finance Division goals are as you craft your goals for 2015. I have spoken with each of the AVPs and directors in drafting these goals. Here they are:

You will likely notice that these are not in SMART goal format. I view these as more general objectives for the division, but I will be developing SMART goal versions for my personal goals in Lead@. In fact, during the goal setting session that I attended, I developed goal 2a for myself… written with the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely characteristics.

We have intentionally set out to make sure that every Finance employee will be able to connect with several of the goals. For example, I will challenge each one to include a version of goal 2a in your personal goals:  I want each person in the Finance Division to identify at least one ineffective work process, propose a solution, and help implement an improvement in the upcoming year. In goal 3a, I will commit to you that you will see increased communication and division-wide opportunities to work together. Looking at goal 4d, I will expect every manager to have a goal of creating a meaningful developmental plan for each of their direct reports.  I expect that you will also see other applicable goals (such as improving relationships with those you work with regularly, from goal 3d).

I’m happy to hear any comments.  You can use the comments feature below this post or feel free to contact me directly.



PS.  Five of you noted that you “still do not know how to write a performance goal and would like more guidance.”  Because the survey is anonymous, I do not know who you are.  However, I would like to make sure you receive that help.  Please email me at if you want additional guidance and I will make sure that happens.

Donors Propel Blue Ridge Scholarships and Financial-Aid Endowment

In just nine months, a new scholarship program for promising University of Virginia students with financial need has attracted support exceeding its challenge grant requirement, setting the foundation for sustained philanthropic backing for future scholarship cohorts.

 The Blue Ridge Scholarships and accompanying endowment were established as challenge grants in February to assist high-achieving students in the Class of 2018, and to grow long-term support for the program.

 U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan announced at Friday’s Board of Visitors meeting that gifts already have surpassed not only the $1 million challenge for the Class of 2018 scholarships, but the additional $3 million challenge for the long-term endowment.

Read the full story at UVA Today.

HPCM: What It Is and What It Isn’t

As you have probably heard, the mission of the Managerial Reporting Project is to enable accurate, consistent, accessible and reliable information required to steward UVa’s resources to promote academic excellence and affordability. In the last blog post, we announced that we met the first deliverable of the project: the deployment of the Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM) tool. The tool allows us to generate summary-level reports that demonstrate how the University Financial Model (UFM) works.

HPCM generates an operating statement which allows, for the first time, schools and units to view both the GA and GL revenue and expense data, compare budget against actuals, and view direct and indirect costs—all generated in a single report using both financial data and non-financial drivers. The statement includes revenues and central cost services as allocated under the UFM. Delivered in just a few months, HPCM was important to implement quickly, as it supports the UFM which was rolled out early this fiscal year.

HPCM, however, does not and was not intended to replace the detailed reporting and utility of Discoverer, nor does it provide budgeting and forecasting capabilities. Beyond the HPCM tool, additional efforts are underway to address the broader reporting needs for the University—including the eventual replacement for Discoverer, anticipated over the next two years.

HPCM is just one module of the overall reporting strategy, and its successful rollout to an initial targeted audience is a huge win for Managerial Reporting and the entire HPCM project team. Access to HPCM and training has been delivered to specific users in the schools and the central service units who are using UFM. Next month we will show you an example of the operating statements generated by HPCM.

Excel Tips & Tricks

Excel Tips & Tricks is a new Managerial Reporting feature to the AVP-F blog. Managerial Reporting’s very own Mark Anderson is launching this exciting and collaborative knowledge-share initiative to help each other enhance our Excel skills.

This first issue of Excel Tips & Tricks focuses on cell references and how to make formulas more flexible and robust. This tutorial demonstrates how to easily set up formulas that can be copied throughout a worksheet.

Mark will continue to provide tutorials that address the broad needs of Excel users at all levels. If you have a specific question, or would like to suggest a future tutorial, please email Mark directly.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Staff Senate: October 16

Guest Speaker: Pat Hogan 

Mr. Pat Hogan spoke to the Senate on numerous topics, but stated that he was more interested in what was on our minds. He spoke at length on the role of leadership and the role of the manager at UVA, the educational initiatives that are currently in place for training, and role clarification. He also shared his thoughts on how the use of creativity and innovation by staff, and faculty will do much to push UVA toward excellence. He asks that we all commit to being innovators, and as senators, we must keep this in mind as we move forward.

Mr. Hogan feels strongly that managers and staff need to be empowered in order to have ideas bubble up to the surface, where they can be considered and acted upon. In his words, he feels that no matter what your job is at UVA, each person has ideas for constructive positive change and we need to have all staff engaged in being creative. We need to change the culture, he suggests, as well as not to settle for complacency or mediocrity.

Mr. Hogan spoke about the fact that we have too many silos at UVA and quite a bit of duplication of effort. He states that he is committed to merit increases every year of his current 7 year plan, however, he asks something of us in return: that we work with him to change the culture to one of innovation and excellence.

We have to modernize the way things are done at UVA. He described his point of view on the organizational structure, which he feels is best compared to a pyramid shape, where information and requests for ideas flow well up and down. However, at UVA, he described what he believes is more complicated: we have not only a pyramid but also an inverted pyramid below, such that the middle layer becomes the place where information sharing can become congested.

  • He suggests that we need to ensure that we have managers who enable people to innovate and that we need to offer training to managers to support these efforts
  • We need to continue to invest in technology (used the new phone system as an example)
  • We need to continue to provide funding for research
  • We need to invest money in getting updated servers
  • He encourages us to all work together to ensure innovation and creativity
  • He is committed to the safety of our students and staff and discussed the work of the new task force on safety

Update from Managerial Reporting

Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management Tool (HPCM)
The first wave of the HPCM users group will meet on November 7th to debrief on the tool set, training sessions and considerations for the second wave of user training. First-wave users will get in-person answers to specific questions, and participate in open discussion on a variety of reporting topics.

The second wave of HPCM users begins training the third week in November. Please confirm your training sessions through Outlook invitations if you are in the second wave.

Orange Teams
Orange Data and Process Improvement Teams are in the second phase of their analysis. A consolidated set of teams in this phase is currently working on the Installment Process, Cost Transfers, Expenditure Types and PTAEO strategies.

CVC Carruthers Bake/Craft Sale

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Let's Fix It: Kill the Weekly Meeting

Here's an interesting idea:  Kill the Weekly Meeting.  The author of the article reports that "Employees responded that only 54 percent of the time spent in meetings was time well spent."  Have you ever felt this way?  There are some great ideas to consider here.  I’d also add…

·        Make a Lync connection or conference call a standard option for every meeting?  Our dispersed community also results in wasted time of driving and parking (as well the cost of gas, garage fees, and potential parking tickets). 

·        Replace a regular weekly meeting with a shorter, daily, stand-up meeting:

·        Sign up for:
Leading Meetings that People Want to Attend
Date & Time: Tuesday, December 2, 9:00am – 12:00pm
Location: 2400 Old Ivy Road, Room 189
Facilitator: Suzanne Bombard
Description: Do you lead effective meetings and utilize your allotted time wisely? Does everyone stay on topic and are all agenda items discussed? If you’re not so sure, then join us for the workshop “Leading Effective Meetings” where we’ll focus on developing the skills needed to lead effective and productive meetings and learn how to achieve appropriate outcomes in meetings by analyzing both behaviors and process. In the context of building group cohesiveness, we will also explore how groups develop, how individuals can both strengthen and weaken a group, and how keeping the group on track and guiding their progress outside the meeting will optimize the time during the meeting.

Updates from Managerial Reporting

Communications Cabinet
Want to help shape some meaningful conversations and messaging for the Managerial Reporting project? Looking for an easy and fun way to make a meaningful impact? Keep your finger on the Managerial Reporting pulsejoin the Communications Cabinet.

Critical Outreach Positions Staffed

Christina Frederick is the new Outreach and Office Administrator. She will serve the core project team in two capacities; office management and outreach support. Christina will assist the team with user helpdesk support and feedback, training materials development, documentation efforts, and generally anything else the team needs and requests. She transferred to Managerial Reporting from Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, where she was a Research Coordinator for an Internet Intervention program for the treatment of insomnia. When Christina isn’t supporting the Managerial Reporting team, she enjoys nurturing the Frederick Team—her husband, two teenage daughters and one polydactyl cat.

Jeremy Serkin is Managerial Reporting’s Communications Lead. Jeremy has a broad communications and journalism background, but comes to The University of Virginia most-recently from a revenue and supply-chain operations role with Citrix Systems in Florida. He will draw on both his business and communications experience in this new position, which also supports the University Financial Model and the Organizational Excellence teams. Fun fact: Jeremy coaches rowing in Charlottesville, and is a volunteer assistant with the UVA women’s crew team. [Shameless plug: His wife Maria is the horn instructor in the McIntire Department of Music, and Principal Horn of the Charlottesville Symphony.]

The Good Old Song... from the Class of 2030!

Don't forget...

2015 Benefits Open Enrollment ends on October 31.
For more information, visit

Thursday, October 9, 2014

From Melody's Desk: October 9

2013-14 Goals - How Did We Do?

In addition to individual goals, each year we establish team-wide goals for the entire Finance Division.  See below for how you helped to contribute to meeting our 2013-14 goals.  Thanks for everything that you do to support and continue to improve how we and the University do their work.


Support University priorities, including:
1) Participate in the implementation of a tuition pricing and financial aid model that provides a sustainable financial model for academic excellence and preserves affordable access;
We played a critical role participating in the affordable access conversation being led by the BOV’s Finance subcommittee; we have developed, analyzed, and presented information related to research activity, endowment distributions, alternative tuition approaches, and AccessUVa; we have collaborated with Advancement on AccessUVa fundraising. 

2) Support the implementation of the new internal financial model, especially in regards to data analysis and associated reporting requirements, and lead efforts within the scope of the project that align with the managerial reporting improvement project;
We led efforts to successfully configure, test, populate with data, and deploy the Hyperion Profitability and Cost Management (HPCM) module to support the implementation of the University Financial Model (UFM). Training commenced and access was provided to first 41 users on 9/17/14. We initiated conversations on the transition to the UFM, particularly around F&A distribution and endowment fee distribution.  OSP supported and worked with the School of Medicine now that the School is managing its deficits on grants in a pilot program to be moved out to other schools.

3) Initiate the managerial reporting project in collaboration with the schools and administration to improve the visibility of key data and provide better decision support tools.
The Managerial Reporting Project (MRP) has been formed, funded, and staffed. The project kicked off with a full day retreat on January 27th which engaged more than 50 Academic Division finance professionals.  The retreat included presentations from two peers (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and UCal Berkeley) and asked attendees to consider what managerial reporting is and what our objectives should be. In addition to the successful implementation of the HPCM tool, the MRP initiated and completed the first phase of data process improvement organized through 10 “Orange Teams” which have evaluated and identified 34 “problems” to address.

4) Participate in the organizational excellence initiatives such as administrative benchmarking and development of centers of financial excellence; and
Student Financial Services, Office of Sponsored Programs, and the Comptroller’s Office were all functional leads of areas of emphasis related to the Hackett benchmarking work.  We participated in collecting and evaluating data, as well as framing future projects.  OSP’s Research UVa tool and the MRP efforts have each been identified as institutional OE initiatives.  In addition, OSP is working with OE staff to map the research administration process to identify opportunities to increase effectiveness.

5) Prepare for the next Facilities & Administrative Cost Recovery proposal and negotiation process (in FY15) by conducting a comprehensive inventory, review, and analysis of all research space, to ensure a solid, defendable space inventory data.
Cost Analysis updated the web-based space survey tool to improve user efficiency in conducting an inventory of space in preparation for the FY15 proposal and negotiation.  We conducted four training sessions where we established new relationships with 76 departmental space contacts.  We collected data for more than 3,000 research related labs, lab service rooms, animal quarters, and animal procedure rooms and conducted a quality assurance review of the data over a four month period.

Upgrade processes to provide high value customer service, including:

1) Revise the tuition and fee calendar by moving approvals to the February board meeting to optimize student recruitment, financial aid packaging, customer service to students and families, financial aid appeals, school financial planning, and employee workloads; 
Graduate and professional tuition and all fees and student charges were approved in February (versus April in prior years), providing significant benefits to administrative offices, school offices, and students and families.  Streamlining the calendar, in conjunction with reorganizing duties and processes in SFS,  allowed SFS to improve the time to read financial aid applications by 9.9% above last year’s pace (representing an additional 835 students); SFS’ awarding and placement of awards on the fall semester bills was up 22.8% compared to the prior year, representing an additional 1,236 students.

2) Begin implementation of a pre-award research administration system that will include an electronic Proposal Approval Sheet (goldenrod) and document imaging to streamline processes, improve accessibility, and achieve operational efficiencies; and
The Research UVa solution, which includes imaging all current and past files, is well underway and is sponsored by OE.  Faculty and end users have been heavily involved in the design, while the technical development has been a great example of collaboration between OSP and ITS.

3) Advocate for improvements and fixes for Oracle financial applications.
OSP has been actively working with ITS to resolve a system “rounding” issue which has been a bug in Oracle since implementation.  The solution resolving 80% of the errors was put into production in September and a permanent code fix will be implemented during fall Integrated System patching; early estimates suggest this will save on the order of 10-12 hours of staff time weekly; this saved time will help our post-award team make progress on our close-out backlog.  MRP has spearheaded a process improvement effort (the Orange Teams) which is expected to result in a number of process improvements related to cost transfers implemented prior to calendar end; this is also related to findings from the Hackett benchmarking work that indicate a (too) high number of intercompany transactions. An example of a quick win team effort was the SIS health insurance issue that SFS, OSP, and IST worked together to resolve.

Improve communication and transparency with internal and external stakeholders, including:
1) Upgrade websites to provide critical information, intuitive navigation, and clean design;
We have redesigned, consolidated information, and upgraded OSP, SFS, and Comptroller’s websites, as well as initiated AVPF and MRP websites. 

2) Address student/family communications with an enhanced financial aid award letter and student bill and consider ways to provide appropriate parent access;
The new financial aid award letter was implemented for both regular decision and early action entering students. We have begun to plan improvements to the student bill for the upcoming year with ITS and the vendor (Nelnet). We continue to explore how we can improve parent access to SIS, given limitations with current Peoplesoft functionality.  We are collaborating with other stakeholders to provide mobile access to the system for students, with the first phase to be implemented this fall.

3) Implement a document tracking system for post-award activities that will allow central and school users to see where a particular award stands in the process for creating, approving, or managing the grant;
A post-award workflow tracker has been placed in production for the OSP team; we expect to deliver to school users later this year. We are developing tracking for invoicing and grant reporting functions to be integrated into this tool. 

4) Install a business officers council to engage central business offices and school/unit administrators in a collaborative and thoughtful manner; and
We have created a bi-monthly, well-attended business officers council which is seen as an effective way of communicating between administrative and academic organizations.  We sponsored a Finance Professionals Workshop in May 2014 that included over 105 participants and presenters from across Grounds.  For internal communications, we are holding a series of “Coffee with Pat and Melody” chats and have launched a blog for Finance Division employees to improve internal communication.

5) Deepen relationships with related organizations, such as Medical Center, UVIMCO, and other foundations.
We worked closely with related organizations, including collaborating with the Medical Center in developing a combined operating statement for the Health System.  SFS deepened its outreach efforts this past year to Admission, International Studies, the Graduate Schools and the McIntire School of Commerce.  We held a series of meetings with Budget in order to develop strategies for more closely collaborating in the future.

Maximize organizational effectiveness of each unit and promote staff excellence, including:
1) Evaluate market salary ranges and current compensation levels, particularly related to morale, alignment with responsibilities, and retention;
We achieved this for University Staff through working with UHR and the Job Families project. We also developed a thoughtful strategic merit increase process, including an evaluation of appropriate pay within a pay range.  We have identified any outstanding actions, which will be complete prior to January 2015.  We collaborated with UHR on several employee initiatives:  to develop a consistent approach and language to rating employees in Fall 2013; to have every employee complete Respect@ training in Summer 2014; and to provide every employee a training session on developing individual goals in Fall 2014.

2) Expand bench strength and robust analytical skills through strategic hiring and employee development;
We have worked to fill open positions with the best available talent, within and outside the University.  Continue to develop web and Qlikview applications (including web-based operational contracts database, automated reconciliation between financial statements and operating budget to actual reporting, and an enhance cash analysis application) that enable staff to be more effective.

3) Appraise best fit between employee skills and knowledge with required duties/functions, which may result in short-term project and longer-term job opportunities;
We have made strategic moves to place the right people in the appropriate places and are considering ways to share resources, breakdown silos, and increase collaboration.

4) Deploy employees in the best manner, including salary vs. wage; permanent vs. season; full-time vs. part- time employees; and
We restructured the SFS Contact Center and other customer service functions for greater effectiveness.For example, the phone abandonment rate during fall registration dropped from an average of 13.5% in August of 2013 to 7.5% in August 2014.  In addition the average speed to answer during registration decreased by more than half on average, and on several days was further improved from the prior year (for example from 2:26 to just 14 seconds).

5) Consider how to partner with UHR to utilize the managerial reporting project to develop employee skills, provide leadership opportunities, enhance bench of data experts, and broaden opportunities for rotational experiences within the University team.
We serve as a Leadership Champion for the new Center for Leadership Excellence; we have had employees participate in the Leading Teams, Leadership Strategies, and Cornerstone Programs, as well as many individual offerings.