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.