Wednesday, October 4, 2017

From the Rockies to the Blue Ridge: New Director of Payroll Services at UVA

Paul Grisdale has been very busy since joining the UVAFinance Team as Director of Payroll Services on September 25th. During his first week on board, he has spent much of his time meeting people and learning more about his stakeholders and their unique needs as the University and the Health System take up payroll as a shared process.

In his new role, Grisdale will lead the ONE Payroll Services Team, which will encompass UVA’s academic division, the medical center, and the physicians group.

Grisdale, a Detroit-area native, comes to UVA from Colorado, where he managed payroll in both the Community College System and Colorado State University. 

Paul Grisdale,
Director of Payroll Services
He is no stranger to massive organizational change.

“Most of my career has been implementing new systems and coming up with best practices,” he said.

Grisdale has led many projects involving the streamlining of processes and collaborative, centralized work. When he looks back at his career so far, he’s most proud of times he’s been able to help build things that didn’t exist before – for instance, a central payroll office for Community Colleges of Colorado.

The office he established delivered great service to all 14 entities in the system and leveraged technology to give employees access to things they’d never had before, such as reporting.

Complicating this particular change was the fact that those 14 schools in the Community College system had very different cultures: some were in little farming towns, and some were in urban areas. Grisdale found that any work he could do that helped him to understand those cultural differences and individual needs was very worthwhile, and he’s been applying that principle to his new role at UVA.

“I’ve made it a priority to be out and about, learning what each area is doing now and who their audiences are, and finding out what the needs are,” he said.

Grisdale was attracted to UVA because he saw a unique opportunity to use what he’s learned about organization-wide change, working on teams, and delivering great customer service: “UVA is a world-renowned University, seeking to provide an equally great payroll and HR service. I want to be part of that.”
He added that it’s exciting to get to leverage not only new technology but also the knowledge of experts in the three different areas at UVA, to find better ways to deliver payroll to all employees.

Grisdale will soon be joined in Virginia by his wife Rebecca and their three children, all of whom are excited about their new home. He acknowledges that it’s quite a change. “Colorado is beautiful, but in Colorado, you can drive for hours and you’re still most likely in Colorado. Here, there’s so much to see, and so many interesting things to do,” he said.

An avid fly fisherman, Grisdale said he looks forward to exploring what that hobby is like in his new home.

Amidst all the change that has been a part of his professional life, Grisdale says one thing has remained true: “I have had great teams in all of my endeavors, and we have that at UVA, too. There’s always ups and downs, but with a great team, you can achieve so much.”

Yvonne Metheny and the joy of being well-rounded

Yvonne Metheny has taken on a lot of projects in her 9 years in UVAFinance. Her official title is “Accounting and Financial Analyst,” but if you ask anyone with whom she’s worked, that title is deceiving. Yvonne, they say, can do just about anything:

“She’s a jack of all trades.”

“She just overhears you struggling with something and offers to help.”

“She’s willing to take on anything you give her.”

“She takes 20 minutes to find something that would take me hours.”

“She’s a go-to person, a problem-solver.”

“I can give her anything, and, with very minimal questions, she’ll get it done.”

Metheny is a lot of things, but she’s not a specialist. . . . Unless diversification counts as a specialty.

Metheny says she never really wanted to be an accountant. In college, she started with some accounting courses and did well in them, but she joined the Air Force and turned her attention to computers. Eventually, she earned her Bachelors’ degree in teaching and education (business education). A short stint teaching high school classes wasn’t a good fit, so she went back and got an MBA with a specialty in accounting.

While working in the field of accounting, Metheny says she’s tried a little bit of everything: debt accounting, cost accounting, and everything in between. She’s been very “behind the scenes,” even by accounting standards, double-checking department postings and ensuring that everything is correct, closing old projects so schools and units can see their financial situation more clearly, helping set up new software systems, and helping her colleagues navigate UBI.

Metheny’s supervisor, Senior Associate Comptroller Randy Ellis, described how Metheny recently came to him when he was working through a 68-tab spreadsheet that would be submitted to the State. He was working under a tight deadline and the work was painstakingly tedious.

“Yvonne came into my office and said, ‘let me know what I can do,’ so I gave her the piece of the spreadsheet involving UVA’s ten foundations,” Ellis said.

“She worked four long days on it, and then gave it back to me 95% complete,” said Ellis. The report was submitted to the State accurately and on time.

“I like puzzles,” Metheny said.

“I like the challenge of solving problems, and things that are new and different. I like learning the answers and teaching others.”

Indeed, for a person who decided early in her career that “teaching wasn’t her thing,” she has, in fact, done a lot of teaching.

Colleague Josh Breeden says that even when Metheny doesn’t know the answer, she takes on the challenge to find out. “You know if you say, ‘hey, Yvonne,’ – you’re probably halfway there. She can at least point you in the right direction,” he said.

Metheny’s career in accounting so far has defied her early expectations of the field. What she thought of as a day to day, same old, same old job has been much more fulfilling than she ever expected, and the reason for that, she says, is because she’s tried so many different things and found what she really likes to do.

“I’ve been very lucky because I’ve been allowed the opportunities to find the right fit for me. I’ve had supervisors at UVA who’ve allowed me to find, in effect to make the right job for me,” she said.

Metheny points out that the world of business changes all the time, and “you have to embrace it, even though it might be out of your comfort zone.”

She says she’s been vocal with her managers about what she’d like to do, what problems she’d like to fix, and also to keep her in mind for projects and positions that match her skill set. Through this openness, and her willingness to regularly try something different, Metheny says she’s developed a wide range of skills.

“Ultimately,” she commented, “the best fit for me is also the best fit for the University. When people are in the right roles doing what fulfills them, great things happen.”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The sun has set . . . how did it go?

The sun set on Discoverer reporting for GA, GL, and LD on August 30 -- an event we'd been working toward for what seemed like such a long time.  The UBI team recently polled those users who were involved in the sunset, asking them some key questions on their satisfaction with the process, including communication and support.

A walkthrough of the survey results is posted on UBIC.

Spoiler alert:  most respondents reported that the sunset experience was a positive one for them and that the dedicated support of Area Champions was a key factor in the transition's success.

Check out the rest of the survey results for more interesting responses, and an opportunity to share your thoughts on the sunset.

Thank you to everyone involved in this process!  Your feedback has been (and will continue to be) invaluable!

Monday, October 2, 2017

ePRF Training for ResearchUVA users

UVA’s move to the electronic routing of all sponsored program proposals is well underway; the successful rollout of the electronic Proposal Routing Form (ePRF) has been a key indicator of the research community’s support for this transition.

OSP has seen strong voluntary adoption of the ePRF by schools, with some utilizing it almost exclusively as of the July 1 soft rollout (a big shout out to SEAS on this commitment). At the end of July, 84% of all ePRFs had been generated from the field. As of September 27, 98% of ePRFs for the month have been generated by the schools themselves.

In response to this overwhelmingly favorable uptake by the research community, usage of the ePRF is mandatory as of October 1. 

Training Availability

We’ve already completed two training sessions and will schedule more over the coming months. We’ve posted upcoming sessions, a comprehensive list of FAQs and other ePRF-related content on the ResearchUVA website, with an online training presentation coming soon.

Next session:  Tuesday, October 24:  Zehmer Hall Lounge, 12 - 1 pm.  LUNCH PROVIDED!
Register here.

Friday, September 29, 2017

TravelUVA login page changes

Christopherson Business Travel (CBT) has changed the look of the TravelUVA “AirPortal” login screen as of Monday, October 2, 2017.  Although the page looks different, the changes in functionality are minimal.  

Basically, you will now click on the left side of the page instead of the right. Below are instructions to find your way around the new page.

Log in to TravelUVA from - (no changes here)

To Book a Trip Online click on the Suitcase Icon.

Then click Book/Manage Online Trips

This will take you to the main page of TravelUVA/ Concur where you can begin booking travel as usual.

Please contact the Travel and Expense Services Team with any questions - or 434-924-4212 ext. 2.

Travel & Expense Wins a "Chromie"

The Travel & Expense Chromie up close
Chrome River, the company who provides the software platform for ExpenseUVA, recently awarded Dolores Hildebrand of the Travel & Expense Team in PSDS with a “Chromie Award.”  

Hildebrand was chosen to receive the Chromie because, out of all of Chrome River’s 600+ customers, UVA submitted the most system modification requests.  When presenting the award, Chrome River said that UVA’s system modification requests helped improve the system and enhanced the experience for all their customers.

In the past 12 months alone, during ExpenseUVA development, testing, deployment and continued use, 158 requests for change based on user feedback have been submitted and completed by Chrome River. 

Hildebrand said, “The Travel and Expense Team, our ITS partners, and all the ExpenseUVA Ambassadors have worked hard to gather input from expense owners, fiscal contacts, and administrators.  We hope the outreach we have done to find out what users need have provided our customers with a system that meets their needs.”

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

Brown Bag Sessions

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

ResearchUVA ePRF Training Sessions

Learn how to use the new smart form to enter proposal information within ResearchUVA

Tuesday, October 24
Zehmer Hall Lounge, 12:00 - 1:00 pm.  Deadline to register is Thursday, October 19
Register here. 

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.

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 Please check out our training pages at

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

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, 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

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

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 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.

Fixed Asset Inventory Management: Why it matters

Larry Norem and Mike Williams are great people to consult if you’re looking for an obscure location On-Grounds. They can not only tell you where the building is, but also, where to park, which door will require specialized access, and what room number you should look for.

These are things they know because they’ve been to all of those locations, multiple times, because it’s their job to keep track of roughly 20,000 pieces of Capital Equipment (known as “fixed assets”) that are spread out over 400+ buildings (with well over 20,000 rooms) and across 300+ organizations at UVA.

Fixed Asset Accounting is a specialized area within Financial Operations that is responsible for review of capital building projects, capitalization of all fixed assets, and maintaining an accurate inventory of the University’s fixed assets. Fixed Assets, also often referred to as hard or tangible assets (and also intangible assets such as software), are long-term assets property that are used in the day-to-day operations to provide for the educational, athletic and research needs of its students as well as the requirements of its numerous sponsors for specialized research.

Gary Young, Director of Fixed Assets Accounting, said it’s a significant challenge to ensure all of the University’s $4.0B fixed assets are properly capitalized and accounted for in its yearly inventory process.

“Getting everything into the inventory system and maintaining that inventory accurately is demanding and very important,” he said. “Various agencies that sponsor the purchase of equipment in the form of research grants and awards expect our system and internal procedures will protect their investment in equipment at UVA.”

Additionally, Young points out, our negotiated F&A rate is integrally linked with the federally-sponsored research equipment located throughout UVA, which makes the accuracy of that inventory another, perhaps an even more critical aspect of accounting for and safeguarding UVA assets on top of the standard accounting and financial reporting requirements.

And that’s where Norem and Williams come in, quite literally – they arrive in offices and labs across Grounds, with asset tags and barcode scanners.
Barcode tags like this one are used to keep track 
of equipment across Grounds.

When someone buys a piece of equipment, Norem makes sure it’s appropriately tagged and entered into the inventory system that Williams manages. Over the course of a year, Williams will complete an inventory of every fixed asset on Grounds. Although he and Larry play similar roles in the process, there’s a key difference, explains Mike: “Larry knows names, I know numbers. He knows all the researchers, and I know all the room numbers.”

There’s a good reason Norem knows “who’s who:” he’s had to do a lot of detective work over the past seven years he’s done this job. From a regular report showing big purchases by purchase order, he matches those purchases up with invoices. Using the PO description, what the item is and what department purchased it, he then goes in search of the item, to find out who it belongs to.

“We can track down pretty much everything,” he laughs. “When I walk in a lab, people say ‘Oh, what are you looking for today?’ or they will even say ‘I know what you’re looking for and it's right here.’”

Norem says that while he and Williams both have a significant amount of intense record-keeping and generating that they do, his time in the labs makes for a nice balance to the work he does at his desk.

Larry Norem, left, tagging a piece of equipment in
 the lab of Dr. Stuart Berr, right.
Mike Williams scanning equipment in a lab.
“I get to talk to the researchers and ask them what they’re working on when I ask them about the new item they’ve purchased. They love to talk about what they’re doing and some of the stuff is just incredible and fascinating,” he said.

Norem added that he also enjoys meeting new principal investigators at UVA: “I can always tell who I’m going to read about in the Daily Progress or UVA Today by how often I see them,” he said.

“I meet researchers and grad students who are working hard, even over Christmas break. Those are the people I know I’ll see in the news later.”

Norem might only appear in a lab every so often when new equipment is purchased, but Williams’ appearances are much more regular, due to the annual inventory cycle.

“It takes me six-plus months to physically go through all the buildings and scan the asset tags Larry has placed, for the records that we keep,” he said, adding that he’s gotten much faster and more efficient doing this job since he started it 13 years ago.

Those records are used when auditors from various agencies such as the Office of Naval Research come by for spot inventory checks. Most sponsors require yearly reports about equipment that has been purchased on a grant.

Williams says while its Norem’s job to make sure money used for fixed assets has been tagged properly, and it’s his job to make sure the asset purchased doesn’t go missing, and it’s not always an easy job.

“It’s not like anyone sells the stuff on Craigslist,” he laughs. “It’s mostly a case of things getting moved and nobody keeping track of it.”

“It’s important for departments to know where their ‘stuff’ is,” he explained, because it’s more than just trying to find everything every year – it’s a matter of UVA monitoring its resources appropriately.

Williams’ duties often take him to some sensitive areas.

“I don’t touch anything when I’m out in the research areas,” he says. “There are some areas where the experiment might be dangerous to me, or I might be dangerous to it.”

He says he and Norem rely heavily on the guidance of the researchers and the signs on the doors as they do their jobs.

“And I never rest my notepad on a counter,” adds Norem with a smile. “Just in case.”

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why Hire a Work Study Student

Does your department need an extra hand or two? Maybe some help with filing or scanning, or someone to staff a front desk?

The Federal Work Study program could be the solution you need.

Federal Work Study (FWS) jobs allow students to earn needed aid through employment. A wide variety of jobs are made available to students via the Handshake platform offered through the Career Center, but more opportunities are always needed.

Benefits of hiring a work study student:
  • The federal government pays 70% of their salary on a work study award, which is part of their financial aid package. Your department only pays 30%!
  • You and your colleagues have an opportunity to mentor a student and provide them with practical work skills in addition to their education.
  • The connections and relationships students develop with administration and faculty help them to be more successful in their transition into college, and then into the world of work.
  • Using federal work study awards for the intended purpose (supplying students with great work opportunities and mentorship) means that UVA continues receiving those awards in the future.
  • Your staff gets development opportunities: they learn more about teaching and training, and possibly, through the removal of some administrative burden, they might have more time for project work they haven’t had time to do.
Still need some convincing? Donna Lewis-Wagner, coordinator of the America Reads program in the Curry School of Education, supervises over 100 FWS students each year. The students work as reading and math tutors in Albemarle County and Charlottesville City public schools. For the five years she has led the program, she has deployed the students, who provide a vital service to the teachers and children in area public schools.

“I’ve had a number of students decide to become teachers because of their experience as tutors,” she said, adding that students learn professional skills working in the program that will translate to any career they choose.

“It’s a win-win situation,” she says.

“The department that needs help, whether that’s with professors on a research project or other tasks within the department, obviously benefits, and the students benefit, too – they make money that’s been awarded to them as part of their financial aid packages, and they learn to be consistent, to show up, and be professional.”

To get started utilizing FWS in your area, view the training session in the Integrated System called “Introduction to Federal Work Study – SIS.”

Student Financial Studies also offers a yearly training on FWS for those across Grounds who hire students, but if your office would like more information, please reach out to SFS for answers to your questions and perhaps even a custom training session.

Read more about Federal Work Study

Why are these guys so happy? Visit the UBI Community to find out!

Josh Breeden and Matt Douglas 
The sun has set on GA, GL, and LD reporting in Discoverer, and lots of people were working behind the scenes to make the transitions smooth in their areas.  Read more about how July's UBI Featured User assisted with migration in his department.

Before you order promotional products. . .

Think about keeping it on Grounds: make your purchases through the UVA Bookstore to save time and money.

Here are the benefits of utilizing this strategic contract with the UVA Bookstore:

  • The UVA Bookstore quotes every order for you – no more contacting multiple vendors and dealing with quotes. On average, this saves departments 19% per order! 
  • Look out for new features coming to the Bookstore’s promotional products website (, including a list of top-purchased items, a “quick ship” easy order list, and online apparel design.
  • Procurement & Supplier Diversity collaborates with the UVA Bookstore to review contract performance and ensure cost savings. You can view the Bookstore’s contract information and vendor scorecard at

The bookstore will also hold the first annual Keep it On Grounds expo on September 12 from 10 am – 2 pm at the Newcomb Hall Ballroom. The expo is open to all faculty and staff and will showcase the products and services offered for University departments from internal service providers.

Mark your calendar and come check out the on-Grounds offerings!

You're Invited: ResearchUVA Training Session

Join the ResearchUVA team for a session on sponsored program proposals, from review to development to submission.  We’ll focus on getting clean and consistent data at each stage, and we’ll also share a demonstration of the electronic proposal routing form (ePRF).

September 19
2 – 3:30 pm
Newcomb Hall, South Meeting Room

No registration required.  We look forward to seeing you on the 19th!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Relief

Give Money

Do you want to help the people in this storm-ravaged part of Texas? Disaster Relief Charities say the best thing you can do is send money. Here is how to give now and get credit for your agency’s 2017 CVC campaign:

Americares (CVC #160333) Part of Global Impact

Provides water, food, supplies to medical relief centers, and much more.

To Give: Be sure to print the screen or your receipt.

After you have given online, go to: to upload your receipt and record your donation so it will count toward your agency goal.

Salvation Army (CVC #160338)

Provides food, water, and many items needed by families who have suffered the loss of their home, all of their belongings, keepsakes.

To Give: Be sure to print the screen or your receipt.

After you have given online, go to: to upload your receipt and record your donation so it will count toward your agency goal.

American Red Cross Relief (CVC # 008228)

Sets up and maintains shelters, mobilizes emergency relief vehicles (ERVs) that provide food, fresh drinking water, blankets and medical attention.

To Give:  and click on the box for hurricane Harvey Relief Be sure to print the screen for your receipt.

After you have given online, go to: to upload your receipt and record your donation so it will count toward your agency goal.

Please direct any questions to CVCStaff@dhrm.virginia.go

Give Supplies

Jessie McGann from Procurement Services has coordinated with Facilities Management and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office to organize a donation drive to benefit the storm victims in Texas. Below is a list of items that are needed. Items can be dropped off at Facilities Management’s warehouse at 575 Alderman Road. Facilities Management’s Safety/Occupational Programs has donated bags that can be filled; you are welcome to pick up a bag to fill at 575 Alderman Road. Bags are available in the coffee/break area and can returned to Mariah Kier through September 8. A note in the bag would be very meaningful to the recipient.

For any questions, please contact Jessie at or 434-243-5192. Thanks to Jessie for organizing this opportunity for us all to help out those in Texas. And thank you for your generosity!

Hurricane Harvey Relief Supply List

·        Shampoo
·        Disposable razors (male and female)
·        Toothbrushes
·        Children Toothbrushes
·        Clorox Wipes
·        Sanitary pads
·        Diapers
·        Diaper wipes
·        Body Wash
·        Diaper rash
·        Contact solution, holders
·        First aid kits
·        Laundry detergent
·        Flashlights
·        Batteries
·        Emergency candles
·        Ziploc bags
·        Aspirin
·        Tylenol
·        Tissues
·        Pet supplies
·        Medical supplies
·        Non-perishable food items, including baby food

Friday, August 25, 2017

Getting more from the data and helping students get access to UVA

Scott Miller’s priority is to make sure students who want to attend UVA get the most out of financial aid.

As Director of Financial Aid in Student Financial Services, Miller and his team work closely with new students, transfer students, and returning students all year round, walking them through the process of applying for financial aid, answering their questions, and providing needed information.

Miller knows that financial aid can be daunting for students and families, so he keeps very close track of where students are in the application process.

From Left:  Mike Holian, Wendy West, Scott Miller,
Johann Reinicke, and Xavier Wiltbank, showing
off the dashboard to their new tool.
“I track the status of financial aid applications so I can see how many we have waiting, and what we’re waiting on from them, so I know who we need to reach out to and how we can help,” Miller said.

Up until recently, this tracking was fairly arduous: done in excel spreadsheets, the process involved a lot of cutting and pasting and sorting and matching of data from different sources, some of which was updated only weekly. It was time and labor intensive, and not always current as could be desired, but something Miller and his team were willing to do in order to help students.

That was the process until Wendy West, Miller’s colleague in Student Financial Services, told Miller there were new ways of reporting at UVA that might make things faster and easier. Thus began a team effort involving Miller and internal SFS IT resources in tight coordination with Johann Reinicke, Distributed Reporting Lead within UBI.
Through his work with UBI, Reinicke had seen firsthand many schools and units “making do” with slower and outdated reporting methods prior to UBI implementation.

“People have always found ways to get the data they need to get processes to move along, but without the right tools, it’s not always easy to complete” he commented.

“We worked with SFS so they could use the enterprise platform within UBI as a tool to make their process more streamlined. We partnered with them to build on that platform and help them take it where they needed it to go,” he explained.

Miller, working with West, Xavier Wiltbank, Amy Nolasco, and Mike Holian of SFS, identified the data fields and functionality that would allow them to monitor their processes and workflow most efficiently.

Reinicke and his team were then able to work within the enterprise software that drives UBI to enable SFS to use the system to achieve their goals.

The resulting system, a pilot of sorts, allowed SFS to get a new and up to the minute perspective on where students of all kinds were within the process.

Miller says that now when the data reveals students having issues, he revisits the way SFS is communicating about that part of the process, or invites those students to an event where they can be individually helped. The system has also enhanced communication between SFS and Admissions as they work toward their shared goal of assisting students entering UVA.

“SFS took the first step in taking ownership of the process, and seeing how they could get more out of their data,” said Reinicke.

“These are state of the art tools we’re using – QlikView, QlikSense – we are behind the scenes making sure that the proper security measures are in place, as well as best practices for development, so that when SFS pulls up a data point, they can be sure it’s accurate, trustworthy data.”

For Miller and the SFS team, the insight they have allows for a greater opportunity to serve students.

“We can now see the hold ups for all student populations. We can slice and dice the data in a multitude of ways. All I have to do is go into the tool and hit ‘refresh,’ and I have the latest information on our students’ needs,” Miller said.


Did you know?

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

Conference Room Etiquette

Our shared spaces give us an opportunity to meet and work together.  Unfortunately, they can also be a source of frustration, because there's often not enough available space to meet demand, and high usage can result in packed schedules and messy spaces.

UVAFinance has implemented ground rules for using our own conference rooms and meeting spaces, with the aim of avoiding some of those common problems.  

The short version is shared below; you can view the full document in Notes from the Mayor.

Here's to happier meetings!

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Three new modules in UBI 7.0 release

UBI 7.0 is the 7th and newest major release for the UBI reporting environment.

Three new modules make their debut in UBI 7.0: 
  • SIS_UGRAD_Admission 
  • Conflict of Interest 
  • GL_Balances           

A highlight for this UBI release is the Conflict of Interest module, which allows Administrators to determine which Principal Investigators need to update their compliance training or submit a new disclosure. The module is easy to search by Org and will be a convenient means of staying within NIH requirements as well.

Enhancements to current modules are aplenty in UBI 7.0, with improvements to 12 modules in all, including 7 GA modules and 2 GL modules. Data sources for UBI 7.0 are the Operational Data Store (ODS), Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), and the CSRPT Reporting Database.

There are two minor Fiscal Period sorting enhancements coming soon in a future UBI release; the modules receiving these enhancements will be GL Balances, GL_Details_All_Years and GL_Details_Current.

The UBI 7.0 Release Notes (with full module update details), QRG, and trainings are available in the UBI Community.


Discoverer GA, GL, LD reporting - August 31, 2017
Discoverer SIS reporting - December 31, 2017 


Adopt UBI Today

Already a UBI User?

Get more information in the UBI Community.

New to UBI? Get Access and Training

You will need to sign up for the Intro to UBI – GA or GL focus course in order to gain access to UBI. Go to the UBI Training page to register for an available Intro to UBI – GA or GL Focus training session.

Additionally, it is suggested but not required, that you begin the ESHARP access prior to attending training. View the Get Started page to learn more.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Keep It On Grounds" Expo: Save the Date!

Mark your calendars!

On September 12th from 10am-2:00pm the on-grounds internal service providers such as the UVA Bookstore, which holds the University’s strategic contract for Promotional Products, Cavalier Computers, and more, will be hosting an event showcasing their offerings to faculty and staff.

More information coming soon!

Riding into the Discoverer sunset? Make it a smooth journey!

Second only to the recent solar eclipse, another monumental event is set for August 2017:  the sunset of GA, GL, and LD reporting in Discoverer.  The UBI team and area champions across Grounds have been working hard to make sure all schools and units are prepared and fully comfortable with UBI for their reporting needs.  Now, as sunset approaches, it’s a great time to visit the UBI Community.  There, you can find tips for getting the most out of UBI, get your questions answered, and find colleagues in your area who are expert users.  

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!

Clicker’s Anonymous: Verifying accurate data

UBI is fast and flexible, but also “touchy” because it's interactive. If you click on an item, it filters by that item. Because of this, always be sure to verify your current selections in the “current selections box” down at the bottom of the screen. This way, you can make sure you’re looking at things by what through the filter you intended.

Read more about this on page 10 of the UBI Manual!

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!