Friday, January 27, 2017

SEAS Commits to Early Adoption of UBI for GA/GL Reporting

Ask anyone who’s become an active user of UBI, the new enterprise reporting environment, about their impressions of the tool and you’re likely to hear a few consistent refrains:  it’s so easy to use, the reports run so quickly, and I wish I could use it for everything, already!

Usage data supports the overall enthusiasm for UBI.  To date, 864 users have been trained; of this group, 42% are considered “active” users.  With GA and GL reporting functions of Discoverer set to end by August 2017, this is a certainly a big step in the right direction.
Institution-wide, reliance on Discoverer finance reports is decreasing, but a gap exists between those who have the ability to use UBI and those who are actually using it on a regular basis.   To put it plainly:  for many of us, we tend to opt for the more familiar process, even if something better is available.

In order to overcome this natural and understandable inertia, some schools within UVA are opting to push for earlier UBI adoption goals.  The Frank Batten School and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) are two examples.  Both schools have set a goal of February 28, a full six months ahead of the official deadline, to cease usage of Discoverer for GA/GL reports.

Robert Bremer, Associate Dean for Management and Finance in SEAS, is a champion of his school’s goal, which he calls “worthwhile” and “a significant step forward.” 

Since December, Bremer and the team within SEAS have been working hard toward this goal.  Diane Wendelken and Mary Smith, SEAS UBI super users, have been coordinating with UBI training developers to offer additional training sessions to UBI users within SEAS, and generally cheering on and assisting their colleagues with the transition.

Wende Hope, Director of Communications in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has taken part in that additional training and has found it immediately helpful, given her role in communicating the research done at SEAS.
“SEAS has half the research dollars of all the schools,” she says. 

“We need to do research reporting so the primary investigators know where they stand.  With our commitment to growth, knowing where the research dollars are is key.”

The sessions offered at SEAS by UBI users were very helpful to Hope, helping her gain proficiency in the system.

“I’ve been to a lot of trainings on a lot of subjects, but this training was exceptionally well-designed,” she says. “The instructors clearly demonstrated how the tool would be helpful to me.  I can tell the time and thought and design and sincerity and energy that have gone into this.”

Hope and others at SEAS echo common feedback from many who’ve been trained in UBI:  the support system surrounding the program is amazing. 

From an online community where users can ask questions and interact, to specialists within the schools and units, to regularly-scheduled and meaningful training and workshops, the team in Managerial Reporting has made the transition to UBI as pain-free as possible.

“They’re ready to help you make the transition,” Hope says, “and they help you make your own personalized road map.”

For schools and units that seek to increase UBI adoption in their area, MRP is standing by to help.  Contact the UBI team at to get started!

The reward for early abandonment of Discoverer GA/GL reports across SEAS is, officially, a party for the entire group of users, but, if you ask Wende Hope, or anyone who’s already a user of UBI, the reward is the program itself.

Note:  A workgroup is being formed within UVAFinance to encourage early adoption of UBI.  If you have ideas on how to decrease Discoverer usage within UVAFinance, contact Kelly Hochstetler. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Changes in Carruthers January through March

Beginning Monday morning, January 30, the back restrooms on the 2nd floor will be closed for renovation.  Employees will still have access to the back smoking area outside of that hallway.  March 24 is the scheduled completion date.

On Saturday, 1/28/17, air handler 3 will be taken off-line from 7:00am-5:00pm for maintenance.  The center section of the second floor will be cooler than normal.  Also, on Saturday morning at 8:00am, the power will be turned off for 30 minutes to an hour to move metering devices.

Please let Stacey know if you have any questions.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Join the Walking Group at Carruthers

Hoo’s Well offers a great 15 minute fit break through UVA WorkMed’s “Steps@” program and they're trying to help put together a UHR group to walk on Tuesday/Thursdays from 2:15 -2:30pm around Carruthers.

Take 15 minutes for YOU – get moving, clear your head, get steps for the Wahoo Fitness Challenge, take a break with a friend, keep a resolution….the list goes on and on. If you’d be interested, please let Erin Erickson know and she can help get you signed up to join the UHR team that will walk around Carruthers through Feb. 23.

Please help spread the word and share this with anyone you think would be interested. All are levels are welcome and this a FREE offering!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ambassadors play a critical role in Expense Management System rollout

The saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child,” with the idea being that the involvement of the entire community is necessary to ensure the child becomes a productive adult.

It also takes a village to launch an online solution for expense reimbursement. 

As the rollout date of the Expense Management System draws near, a team of over 60 ambassadors (usually those in fiscal roles, chosen by each school and unit), has partnered with the Travel & Expense Core Team to make sure the system is ready for their unit and that their unit is ready for the system.

Since the beginning of the year, ambassadors for the Expense Management System have been testing in Chrome River, the software that houses the system, to make sure everything is functioning properly.  In addition, as subject matter experts within their area, ambassadors have been assisting the UVAFinance Core Travel & Expense team in preparing their school or unit for the coming transition from a paper-based system of reimbursement to the new online system.

The role of ambassadors is particularly important because anyone who gets reimbursed for expenses incurred in the course of doing University business, anyone who holds a T&E card, and many more fiscal employees will be touched by this new system, which is set to roll out this spring. 

Although their role involves a good amount of work (testing, weekly conference calls, working with their leadership and colleagues to facilitate change), ambassadors remain excited about the new system.

In their own words, here’s what a few of those ambassadors have to say:

On the impact of the Expense Management System:

·        It will help to streamline the process, and allow us to intervene earlier if there are possible issues.  The grants I help manage have strict federal guidelines, and this system give me time to address compliance issues and troubleshoot errors.  – Carey Reinicke, Grants and Contracts Administrator, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

·        We do a lot of travel and meal arranging for hiring and search committees.  We run a lot of charges through and have lots of policies and rules to follow.  The new system should make things easier, in terms of getting approval for reimbursement. – Kadie Signore, Business Operations Manager, Executive Search Group

·        It’s going to have a big impact on us, and it’s going to be good.  The system catches errors up front vs. at the back end of it, and that’s a huge benefit.  – Theresa McDaniel, Financial Service Manager, School of Nursing

On their role as an Ambassador:

·        I try to see things through the user’s eyes.  As I’m testing the system, I look for those small quirks that can add up if you’re doing several transactions at a time. I want to find those on the front end, so end users won’t have to encounter them.  After the system is live, I look forward to assisting those individual users who want more specific help. – Carey Reinicke

·        I think everyone will enjoy the system when it goes live.  It’s intuitive and easy to use.  As an ambassador, I want to help our team adjust to the new system, to help them transition. – Kadie Signore

·        I can’t wait for people to see the system.  I know people who aren’t “finance people” won’t be as excited as I am, but still.  I’m glad to be a part of helping our people handle the change. – Theresa McDaniel

On challenges that the new system creates:

·        Any time there’s a change in process or systems, it’s challenging to transition from the old to the new, but the system will make things easier, quicker, and less of a burden. – Carey Reinicke

·        I know it’s a strength, actually, but you can’t move through the system unless you comply with policy and provide necessary information. Oracle wouldn’t stop you from entering bad data or having missing data, but this system will.  – Kadie Signore

·        The only downside I see is that we haven’t done this sooner! – Theresa McDaniel

Much more information about ambassadors (who they are in each school/unit, and how they can help), training availability for the new system, and other rollout details will appear in February 2017, but until then, know that there is a whole host of people across Grounds at workto ensure a smooth transition. 

Thank you to the Core Team members and all of the ambassadors who are paving the way!

What's on your mind? UVAFinance launching online suggestion box

UVAFinance’s core values include commitments to collaboration and to valued and high-performing teams.  While we hope that you’re sharing your questions, feedback, and suggestions within your teams and departments, we also realize that sometimes, in the rush of day to day business, it can be hard for your insights and thoughts to come to the surface.

Instead of installing a physical suggestion box to sit in a dusty corner, we’ve made an anonymous online suggestion box available for UVAFinance team members’ use.  Your questions and great ideas about anything related to UVAFinance are welcome and encouraged.

  •       All messages will be considered and shared with a person who has the ability to address them.
  •       Questions, ideas, process improvement suggestions, etc., are all welcome.
  •       If you want a response sent directly to YOU, you must include your name.  Otherwise, anonymous submissions are just fine. 
  •       There is no response feature within the online program.  Some questions/ideas will be addressed in the blog, some in departmental meetings, and so on.
    Access the suggestion box here.  Thank you in advance for your thoughts!

Break out that new UVAFinance Polo!

Next Friday, January 27, is the first Finance Shirt Friday of 2017. 

We encourage you to plan a lunch with coworkers and be on the lookout for more info about discounts.   We will also be raffling off some new UVAFinance “swag” (including the bottle seen here) so be sure to wear your t-shirt or polo to enter your name in the spirit raffle!  We hope you will share pictures of you and your colleagues showing off your team spirit and your Finance Shirts.
 Haven’t picked up your UVAFinance polo yet?  Stop by the VP Finance office; Stacey or Linda will be glad to help!

Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign 2016: And the winner is . . .

Financial Planning & Analysis!

With 54% of employees donating to the 2016 Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, FP&A won both lunch and bragging rights within UVAFinance for the greatest percentage of employees giving to the campaign.

As a whole, UVAFinance employees demonstrated their generosity, with over 24% of employees participating (up from 22% last year)!  Those contributions amount to $17,714 from UVAFinance employees that will go to deserving community charities, including Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Charlottesville Free Clinic, and Hospice of the Piedmont.

Overall, more than $1 million was donated to over 400 charities by UVA employees this year.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Few Reminders: Parking and Door Access


Just a reminder that employees should not park in the South Visitor’s lot, even if it’s just for a short time, from the January 12th through the 23rd, as SFS and UREG expect higher traffic in due to the start of the spring semester.  It’s best if our students and parents who drive here have a parking spot available to them in the Visitor’s lot.  

Door Access in SFS

As you’ve heard a few times, we’re going to change the door access on two more doors in SFS.  These doors will begin to function like the ones in the student lobby:  during the day they will be locked but accessible by holding your ID card next to the reader.  No PIN will be required during business hours.

During off hours (after 5:00 pm and before 7:30 am), you’ll have to hold your ID card next to the reader AND enter your PIN for access.

The cutover is planned for this Friday, January 13th at 7:30 am. 

Door #1:  after you come down the stairs from the upstairs lobby, it’s the door at the end
                              of the hallway before entering Student Financial Services.

Door #2:  is the door between Student Financial Services and the vending area,
                              which is currently still under construction.

Please let Steve Kimata know if you have any last minute concerns about this change.  

As always, questions and comments are welcome below!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Finance Training Offerings, January & February 2017

Listed below are upcoming courses, workshops, labs, and Brown Bag Sessions for January and February 2017!

We hope you will take advantage of these professional development opportunities for finance professionals. Descriptions of the classes, as well as links to enroll via Employee Self-Service are available from the Events section on the Finance Outreach and Compliance website at

Brown Bag Sessions
  • SecureUVA: Ways to Avoid Hacking and Phishing
    • Presented by Jason Belford, Chief Information Security Office
    • January 18, 12:00-2:00
    • Bavaro Hall, Room 116 (Holloway Hall Auditorium)

  • Using your Education Benefit and for Professional Development
    • Presented by Patty Marbury, Finance Outreach and Compliance
    • February 1, 12:00-2:00
    • 2400 Old Ivy Road, room 189

·        UVA Marketplace Catalogs – Making your Work Easier (including information on new catalogs)
    • Presented by Charles Kidd, Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services
    • February 15, 12:00-2:00
    • 2400 Old Ivy Road, room 189

Courses, Workshops, and Labs

  • Finance Fundamentals
    • January 10, 1:30-4:30 (2 seats left!)
    • January 24, 1:30-4:30
    • February 14, 1:30-4:30
    • February 28, 1:30-4:30
    • All sessions will be held in Carruthers Hall, Conference Room 2

  • Mastering Account Reconciliations (5 seats left!)
    • March 9, 1:30–4:00
    • Carruthers Hall, Conference Room 2

  • General Ledger Revenue Reconciliations Workshop
    • February 16, 1:30-4:00
    • Carruthers Hall, Conference Room 2

  • TravelUVA: Lab
    • January 11, 2:00-3:30
    • February 13, 9:00-10:30
    • Both sessions will be held in Michie North, room 219

Review our inclement weather policy at

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions, or need to discuss training needs, please contact us at

Friday, January 6, 2017

Catalog Shopping Means Savings & Ease in Purchasing

Which sounds easier:  purchasing a product with sole-source justification and entering the PO manually, or going to the Marketplace, choosing the needed item from a catalog, and having the order processed electronically?
The catalog option, of course!

Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services continues its mission to steward the University’s resources to the best of their ability.  Through PSDS’s Strategic Sourcing Initiative, 13 more catalogs chock-full of frequently ordered research and development products have been added to the Marketplace. 

The graphic below sums up the time and money saved when products are purchased through catalogs.  These 13 are just a start; up to 20 company catalogs are expected to be added this year alone.

Kristin Floyd, Senior Buyer, says the added catalogs are one of several ways PSDS is seeking to reduce the administrative workload of researchers across Grounds.   

“PSDS is working to increase the number of R&D vendors under contract with UVA.  Being under contract means less work for shoppers in locating and justifying the products they need to in order to do their research, less paperwork for everyone, better terms and conditions for the University, and better pricing, too.”

Current vendors under contract can be viewed here.  Don’t see a vendor you frequently use?  Contact Kristin!

The Strategy of Calculating Overhead

Sara Tarkington uses these poker chips as an object lesson on F&A when she teaches Brown Bag Sessions.  The blue chips represent Research, the green chips are Instruction, and the red ones are Public Service.  And the white chips?  Those are F&A costs, allocated to the University’s missions of Research, Instruction, and Public Service.
When the new fiscal year rolls around at UVA, a new, higher Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate will be in place.  This may not sound terribly exciting until you consider how many moving pieces are involved, and what’s at stake.  

Sara Tarkington, Director of Cost Analysis in Financial Planning & Analysis, calls the entire thorny process of securing an F&A rate for UVA “almost like a strategy game.” 

If you’re wondering what an F&A rate is, exactly, you’re probably not alone, even if you’re in Finance.  

The F&A rate is the mechanism used by the federal government to reimburse the University for its fair share of the costs in support staff, equipment, buildings, and utilities required for performing federally-sponsored research.  It’s essentially an “overhead rate.”

Research grant sponsors will pay for the salaries, wages, fringe benefits, supplies, and services necessary to do the research, and they also pay the University an F&A rate.  Because UVA does research, we have more faculty, staff, grad assistants, dedicated equipment, and highly specialized buildings than we would if we were a teaching-only institution.

The cost of doing that research increases our overall support costs in areas like Human Resources, Procurement, Sponsored Programs, Facilities management, and utilities, to name a few.

So what’s involved in securing a new F&A rate?  A lot of legwork and tough judgment calls! 

The UVA F&A rate is reviewed and approved by the Mid-Atlantic office of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Every four years, the University negotiates a new F&A rate proposal.

Tarkington led her team in the enterprise of securing the new, favorable rate, and she’s become adept at making the right judgments to keep UVA within federal regulations while still securing the highest rate possible.

“There are always changes in interpretation of the rules by the government, and then, people in the field change – it’s always something different,” she says.

“You make a judgment today that may not be appropriate in four years, because of any number of factors.”

The key, she says, is to stay flexible and work within the room the rules have for interpretation, while still staying between those legal guardrails.  Flexibility is a strength of Tarkington’s, along with her strong skills in analysis and statistics, which she honed during years of auditing work for companies such as Arthur Andersen.

“We look at all the costs in the University, all the square footage in the University, all the full-time employees (FTEs) in the University, and all of the compensation by department, and then we allocate all of these costs based on either footage, FTE, or compensation by department,” says Tarkington.

“These represent the costs that are added by doing federally-funded research, and so the federal government helps pay for them,” she says.

Tarkington notes that all universities have to be careful when calculating and submitting F&A rate proposals because even honest mistakes in coding how space is used (how much of it is for federally funded research vs. teaching, for instance) can result in heavy questioning, or even indictment and fines. 

“Even one room can have multiple uses, and maybe ten different classifications besides its use as a research space.  Even the smallest mistake can throw the whole proposal off,” Tarkington says. 

“My team is a line of defense with departments and units, helping to make sure things get coded properly, so they stay well within the legal guidelines.”

That spirit of cooperation and helpfulness means that Tarkington’s work is not all about paper and spreadsheets.  She and her team go out to the schools and units and help them take a look at their space.

“It’s about people and building bridges,” she says.

“We work with all the departments in the University.  It’s taken some of them a while to get over the idea of us being bean counters who come out and look at their space, and understand that we are people who can help them get necessary revenue from F&A.”

UVAFinance Must Lead the Way in UBI Adoption

Usage of UBI across UVA is growing at an impressive rate.  As more modules become available (10 at last count!), more people get trained on the system, and more of those users become active users of the system.  Between October and November of 2016, use of Discoverer finance reports decreased 14%.

Among UVAFinance employees, usage continues to grow.  

The Top Ten Users from UVAFinance (not counting MRP, of course!) are:

Anne Marie Cumiskey, Financial Planning & Analysis
Lisa Shuler, Student Financial Services
Rohan Patel, Financial Planning & Analysis
Ashley Rogers, Student Financial Services
Lynne Schwar, Comptroller
Judy Rowe, Financial Planning & Analysis
Josh Breeden, Comptroller
Lisa Layne, Comptroller
Yvonne Metheny, Comptroller
Urmila Bajaj, Sponsored Programs

Kudos to these folks for leading by example!

For all of UVAFinance, the transition from Discoverer to UBI needs to be a priority.  If Finance hesitates to adopt UBI, it will be hard for us to convince others to do so. 

A workgroup is being formed whose purpose it will be to encourage early adoption of UBI and decrease use of Discoverer within UVAFinance.  If you have ideas (Contests?  Prizes? Fun suggestions are welcome!) and/or would like to be a part of this group, contact Kelly Hochstetler.

Upcoming Training Sessions from Finance Outreach & Compliance

UVAFinance team members can learn more about using their education benefits at a Lunch & Learn session hosted by Finance Outreach and Compliance on Thursday, January 19, from 12:00 – 1:00 pm. 

If you’re not a member of UVAFinance, or if this time doesn’t work for you, the same training will be offered at a Brown Bag Session (and open to all) on February 1, at 2400 Old Ivy Road, Room 189, from 12:00-2:00 pm.

Additional Lunch & Learn sessions have been added to the Finance Outreach & Compliance training calendar.  These sessions are open to all UVAFinance team members.

  • 10 Easy Ways to Make Better Charts - Thursday, February 16, 12:00-1:00, presented by Shannon Wampler of Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services. Bad charts can bore or even mislead your audience.  Learn ten easy tricks and design principles that you can use to transform your charts into attention-grabbing, meaningful visuals that get your point across!
  • Using the New UVAFinance Style Guide -Tuesday, March 21, 12:00-1:00, presented by Brandi Van Ormer of Finance Outreach and Compliance.  This course is an introduction to a collection of resources and templates designed to help UVAFinance employees communicate clearly and use UVAFinance branding appropriately.

Please contact us at or or comment below if you have questions or suggestions for future sessions.

What's the newest around Carruthers?

Here are the newest updates from around Carruthers Hall:

  • As you probably know by now, access to the ITS North Door was removed from employees who are not in the ITS department.  The front lobby in now open.   Work is finishing up on the store front glass installation of Carr-1 and Carr-2.
  • Furniture for the Carruthers receptionist will be installed sometime this month.  Melody is planning to post the receptionist position very soon.  If you are interested, please let Stacey or Disha know.
  • The new lactation room and all-gender restroom are now open.
  • The work on the vending area downstairs has been delayed for various reasons.  A couple more weeks are needed to complete this project.
  • The back bathroom renovations on the second floor will begin soon.  Look for more updates soon!
  • The payment box for coffee donations should be installed next week.  We will ask for honor payment at that time:  $1 per cup of coffee and $.50 per cup of tea.  No payment is required if you use your own K-cups!