Thursday, June 18, 2015

From Melody's Desk: 2015 Goals Update

Long days, colorful flowers, fresh produce, empty stores on the Corner, kids on bikes and in pools, sweltering humidity… yep, summer is here!  I hope that you all have time planned away from the office to rest, relax, explore, be with family, and catch your breath.

Jumping ahead to September, please mark your calendar for the United Way Laurence E. Richardson Day of Caring on Wednesday, September 16.  For the first time, we will look to have a division-wide Day of Caring project. Last year we had two groups volunteering at the SPCA and Scottsville Elementary School. Stacey Rittenhouse and Kobby Hoffman have agreed to be project leads for our group.  Please email Stacey and Kobby to let them know that you will participate.  We will need to have a headcount in order to make sure we select the right size project.  As you may know, participants tackle diverse projects including office work, painting, landscaping, construction, arts and crafts, tutoring and more! Last year, more than 1,000 UVa employees volunteered and completed over 100 projects.

We are midway through the year and we have accomplished so much!  Now is a great time to take a look at our goals for the year.  See below for how much you have accomplished!

AVP Finance Team
2015 Goals, June Update

1.      Support University priorities, including:
a.      participate in the implementation of a tuition pricing and financial aid model that provides a sustainable multi-year financial model for academic excellence and preserves affordable access. Affordable Excellence approved by the Board of Visitors in April 2015, including Guaranteed Tuition Program, reduction in loan debt and two step tuition increases.
b.      continue process of selecting, configuring, and deploying robust and usable decision support tools and modules, including but not limited to Research UVa, a data repository, a reporting tool (Discoverer replacement+), financial planning/modeling, SIS CollectionsResearchUVa, phase 1, was deployed May 4 with high satisfaction being reported. As of 6/15 there are 337 users, 208 of them are faculty.  Vendor Demos for Business Intelligence tool procurement were held May 19-21. 
c.      participate in the organizational excellence initiatives, including implementation of recommendations related to research processes, intercompany transactions, and the role of the manager. We have held research forums with faculty groups; participated in the Bacharach Leadership Group’s Leading a Legacy program and in the Jennifer Garvey Berger workshops on Simple Habits for Complex Times and Supporting, Motivating, & Managing Others; and initiated discussions with George Mason University and federal reps about replacing Effort@UVa with a much simpler approach.
d.      submit an updated Federal Disclosure Statement (DS-2) and a Facilities & Administrative Cost Recovery rate proposal and prepare to negotiate this rate with our cognizant agency.  Will submit June 26, 2015.

2.      Upgrade business processes to improve service, reduce inefficiency, and provide the high quality work product, including:
a.      establish a process that rewards and recognizes finance team members who identify ineffective practices, propose solutions, and help implement new approaches that will eliminate re-work, clarify reporting, and minimize time on follow-up.  Project Collaboration Tool in discussion; Coffee with a Colleague initiative implemented; Plan to implement new rewards and recognition program geared toward this idea.
b.      continue phase two of Orange Team work to develop and implement solutions to identified issues. Continue to identify improvements with cost transfers; develop proposal to create a GA transfers expenditure type.
c.      collaborate with key stakeholders to develop a robust data governance approach.  Data governance framework developed and initiated a pilot test of the approach related to expenditure type. Data Strategy Committee formed.
d.      evaluate cost transfer and LD review processes in Accounting Services and OSP to determine effective way to streamline work and appropriately manage risk. Beginning July 1, OSP/FOC will begin to limit reviews to costs moving on to a G/Z award or between G/Z awards.  We will no longer review transfers between projects on the same G/Z award or charges that are moving off G/Z awards to non-G/Z awards.
e.      evaluate financial statements, including a consideration of how to develop individual school financial statements and including all foundations as component units.  Working with SOM as a pilot; added College Foundation as a component unit. Exploring the development of online Financial Report and a plain language guide to the financial statements
f.       develop a streamlined tuition process from proposal stage through approval to applying to student bills. Project in process, led by AVPF office and including SFS, ITS, Budget, Provost, and school reps
g.      Other:  The Student Aid Funding Model’s (SAFM) integration phase was implemented in May.  Peer Transfer implementation started in April for incoming foreign payments. Comptroller’s Office to review Equipment Trust Fund process as well as Recon@ potential enhancements.

3.      Improve communication and transparency with internal and external stakeholders, including:
a.      increase internal office communications and division-wide events.  Formalized blog process. Incorporated Staff Senate updates for entire division. Created an events committee to plan a summer division-wide event and a division-wide effort for Day of Caring.  Formalized the Managerial Reporting Project communication plan and have deployed a periodic e-newsletter, presented to 2+ constituent groups each month, and held a Town Hall meeting that reached over ~125 people.
b.      create a finance, research, and student dashboard displaying key performance metrics;
c.      consider communications with students and parents on student financial matters, especially incorporating recommendations from Strategic Communications; SFS partnered with Admission and Curry faculty on a texting pilot for low income students. Continued involvement with University Communications on their branding results, enhancements related to Blue Ridge Scholar materials and detailed creation of micro-sites for targeted customer information.
d.      deepen collaborations and partnerships with:
                         i.     central service units such as Procurement, UHR, ITS, Budget, Treasury and others. Collaborating with UHR and Center for Leadership Excellence on employee development/training. Collaborating with Procurement and OE to improve insight into and compliance associated with international travel.  Collaborating with ITS on IT Security Initiative. Sponsored Finance Forward – attended by 175 professionals across the Academic Division. Collaborated with Audit on employee development. Initiated Coffee with a Colleague. Continued to sponsor Business Officers Council.
                        ii.     schools and academic units Worked with Curry to address challenges with on-/off-grounds rates and payment of rent on sponsored programs. Began implementation of the Scholarship Management System, which includes participation from other central offices such as University Advancement and all of the schools. Sponsored Finance Forward – attended by 175 professionals across the Academic Division. Initiated Coffee with a Colleague. Continued to sponsor Business Officers Council.
                      iii.     related organizations such as Medical Center, UVIMCO, and others.  Met with Medical Center and UPG to discuss connections with the Managerial Reporting Project.  Invited Rick Skinner and Sean Jackson to join the Managerial Reporting Executive Committee.
                      iv.     state agencies such as SCHEV, DOA, DPB, and others.  Participated in FOCUS Conference. Co-sponsored the 2015 Impact of Export Controls on Higher Education & Scientific Institutions with VT and GMU.  Assumed leadership role in VASFAA (Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators).
e.      develop a comprehensive finance training and outreach plan.  Hired Patty Marbury as Training Manager.  Deployed first Advancing with Excel class, initiated needs assessment process, and began conversations with other training providers, such as CLE and SCPS.

4.      Maximize organizational effectiveness of the overall finance team, including:
a.      evaluate impact of planned retirement (including succession) of AVP Research Administration, Associate Comptroller, and other key positions.  Transition for AVP Research Admin and Associate Controller retirements in place.  Working to consider the impact of ERIP retirements.
b.      participate in the development of service level agreements to articulate what we do for units and how well we will do it.  SLA drafts are in process.
c.      consider finance team organization and ways to break down silos, share services internally, and appropriately address the role of managers (with Center for Leadership Excellence); Consolidated training and compliance efforts into the Finance Outreach and Compliance Office.
d.      create a development plan for each employee including internal and external training offerings, the role of the manager (with Center for Leadership Excellence), and appropriate compensation.  Goals/development plans are in progress.  Upcoming salary process to address market ranges and compensation needs.
e.      document finance team-specific HR practices and guidelines. SFS updating its rewards and recognition process through a manager-level team.

Congratulations!!  And have a great summer.

Bookmark This: Expenditure Type Definitions in iProcurement

The Managerial Reporting Project team recently helped simplify expenditure type selection in iProcurement. New descriptions provide easy keyword search functionality in expenditure type definitions.

Tuition Benefits Program

Most of us are well-acquainted with University benefits for health and retirement, but did you know that employees can also spend up to $2000 per calendar year for eligible and approved educational studies? Check out the overview below and additional information on the UHR website.

The University offers $2000 per employee per calendar year in tuition benefits for academic and related coursework, including vocational and professional development opportunities. Education Benefits may be used for academic degrees or courses at UVa and other accredited institutions, and non-credit courses, certificates and licenses at UVa and other education providers. Enrollment in the program is through Benefits@UVa

If you enjoyed the Mindful Moment presented at Finance Forward, check out the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program offered by the UVa Mindfulness Center.

McIntire Business Institute

For more than thirty years, the McIntire Business Institute (MBI) has offered non-business majors and working professionals the opportunity to learn the business knowledge needed for career success.  The program is led by an outstanding group of McIntire professors and covers four key areas of business knowledge: management, marketing, finance/Excel, and accounting.

MBI is now available in a convenient online format as a 15-week accelerated program with start dates in January, May, and September; the deadline for the upcoming Fall program is August 21. The cost of MBI is $5,100, which covers all materials, and the program is eligible for the employee education benefits program

For more information, you're welcome to attend the online information session on June 24 at 6pm (register here, future sessions here), read this UVA Today article, visit or contact the admissions office at or (434) 243-2038. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Join the Red Carpet Celebration!

Ten Finance Division employees are celebrating 25, 35, and 40 years of service this year.  They will be honored with a dinner on Monday, June 8, preceded by a red carpet arrival in front of JPJ.  Come cheer for your friends and colleagues as they enter JPJ! Make signs and bring your kids! There will be a shade tent, cold water, and plenty of free parking.

Monday, June 8
4:45 pm -5:25 pm

Updates from MRP: On-Grounds Technology Vendor Demos

More than 75 cross-functional representatives across the University met for three days in May to assess potential technology vendors for the new University internal reporting toolset. Next steps likely include further review of one or more of the initial three vendors, and discussion among the MRP Executive Committee and Associate Deans. The team hopes to make a recommendation by mid-to-late July.

Updates from OSP: Coffee with Colleagues & New Faces

Coffee with a Colleague
A couple members of OSP have taken advantage of the “Coffee with a Colleague” program.  Tammy Sutton, a new accountant in post-award, met at Greenberry’s recently to discuss different perspectives on grants with Whitney Richardson, Laboratory and Research Specialist who runs the Fan Mountain Telescope in Nelson County under Rick Patterson in Arts & Sciences’ Astronomy Department.  The two shared “how grants effect each one of us in our positions here at the University.  Her [Whitney’s] job is dependent on grant money; no funding, no job.”  Tammy helped Whitney understand that OSP’s job of preparing financial reports is required by the sponsor for oversight so the sponsor will continue to send payments for reimbursement. While visiting the Astronomy Department, Tammy also met Rick Patterson, Senior Scientist, and Barbara Johnson who is General Administrative Supervisor and who for more than a decade has handled grants administration for Astronomy. Tammy noted “…. we talked about her position versus mine.  It was an interesting view of grants management from a different position.”

Kobby Hoffman, Assistant Director for Accounting in post-award, met with Charles Kidd, Transactions Manager in Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services regarding open commitments on purchase orders in relation to grants. Purchase orders which are open cannot be closed by OSP, and when the PO is open, the vendor can still invoice and be paid. Therefore, it is important that open commitments be “finally closed” or moved off by departments. If the amount is larger than $5,000 or split between multiple accounts, OSP often needs the Procurement Office’s assistance.  Kobby was impressed by the situations in which Procurement (and Charles, in particular) has unraveled and straightened out accounts so OSP could produce accurate financial reports.

New Faces 

Welcome to Elizabeth Jackson, Administrative Assistant at OSP’s front desk, who hails from Virginia Beach but moved here when she started going to Mary Baldwin College.  A Library Assistant while in college, she spent time as a ski-lift attendant after graduation.  She joined OSP after a temp assignment at UVA for the School of Medicine’s Summer Medical and Dental Education program—essentially a “boot-camp” for prospective medical students. In her spare time, she enjoys going to the gym (she lost 60 pounds over the course of a year!), reading, playing mystery computer games and playing with her dog Katie.

Updates from the Comptroller's Office: Cardinal & APA Audit

We are now eight months away from going live with the new State Accounting System, Cardinal. The behind the scenes work is being done not only by the Comptroller’s Office but also Procurement and ITS/Enterprise Applications. We have mapped our existing chart of accounts into the new Cardinal chart of accounts and ITS/EA will begin doing some “sample” state stamping in the next several weeks. The Cardinal team went to Richmond this week to see our first “live” demo of the Cardinal system and were quite impressed. The PeopleSoft-based program appears to be very user friendly and we were most impressed by the reporting module. Rather than rely on the State to produce reports, we will be able to create and run our own reports and queries directly from the Cardinal system daily/weekly/monthly.

Even though there is much more work to do, we are slowly beginning to see what our processes will be with the new system. A very big thank you should go out to Imelda Carter, Sue Clements, Richard Parkins and Terry Butler for all the work they have been putting in these past several months.

APA Audit
The Comptroller’s office held the annual Entrance Conference with the APA for this year’s financial statement audit. Although it will be an entirely new team from the APA, we are looking forward to working with them. They are set to begin preliminary fieldwork on June 8th, with the majority of the audit fieldwork to start in early August. Our time frame is to have the audit completed by mid-October with the University’s financial statements being released around the week of Thanksgiving.

Excel Tips & Tricks: New Help Inbox

Thank you to all who attended the Advancing Your Excel Skills class. For those who attended, we hope you are putting some of your new found skills to use. For those who have not attended the class, you can sign up in the Learning Management System (search for “Advancing Your Excel Skills”).

Do you have a quick Excel question, or need help on a specific project? Email—a new inbox managed by a team of eager Excel volunteers. Malika Ouenza, Greg Ball, Lisa Shuler, Tom Kim, Disha Venkatesan or Mark Anderson will respond with suggestions, or arrange a follow-up for inquiries that might take more time. The team is here to help you learn and operate more efficiently and effectively. They recommend Microsoft Lync instant messaging to facilitate discussion and screen sharing.