Thursday, October 26, 2017

From Melody's Desk: What's Next for UVAFinance?

Dear Colleagues,

You may have heard that finance will be one of the next areas of emphasis as UVA continues its goal towards organizational excellence. Just as UVA is committed to innovation in the classroom and lab, this fall, we will begin a multi-year effort to transform to the workplace of the future. This project will include modernizing our job skills and daily tasks, enhancing the great service we provide to our stakeholders and implementing state-of-the-art technology to provide excellent financial support, solve problems and build stronger connections.

The purpose of my message today is to share with you what we know about the upcoming journey as we move forward together into UVA’s third century.

The Finance Strategic Transformation

We describe the upcoming work in this way because it most accurately reflects what we want this process to be: “strategic” because we will identify the best and most impactful ways to improve how we support education, research, and patient care in a modern-day, streamlined, and dynamic workplace, and “transformation” because it’s a re-imagination of where and how we deliver services, what technology we utilize, how we are connected across the entire University and how we think of our roles on teams.

The journey we’re undertaking will be adapted to finance and to UVA; it is not modeled after any existing transformation. We are just beginning to plan and develop how future service will be delivered, what a future financial organization will look like, and how we will invest in your professional development. We haven’t defined the entire process now from start to finish but will communicate with you and all of our stakeholders frequently.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we know now about the Strategic Transformation:

  • We will develop and manage the skilled and professional financial workforce needed for the future, enabling our finance teams to grow professionally. This is not a force reduction.
  • We will optimize service delivery and strengthen relationships within the finance community across Grounds while identifying the best place for financial work to take place, wherever that may be located. 
  • We will streamline business processes to improve outcomes and eliminate steps that do not add value. It’s about saving time and effort, enabling us to focus on mission-critical activities. 
  • We will implement and support technology that will better enable us to do our jobs and allow us to deliver excellent service, to grow strategically, and to responsibly steward UVA’s resources.

I know you probably have questions, some that will not have answers yet. We will learn a lot more as we begin to plan this work. And I promise we will keep you up to date both in the UVAFinance blog and on the newly refreshed VP Finance website when it goes live later this year. You can email me and we will look to address those in future communications.

UVA has experienced a lot of transition lately and although the result is desirable and best for the University, it can still be challenging to get there. I’m glad we have an extended team of finance professionals across Grounds that I can count on to share input and ideas as things take shape. In fact, we can’t do it without you – we’ll need your participation and innovation to make this process successful and your patience and collaboration as we determine the best path forward.

So, as we embark on this journey, please join me on the ride. It may be bumpy and the path may not be clear from time to time, but I am confident that together, we will become our best.

Thanks for all you do!

Procurement: Behind the Scenes of the October 6 Bicentennial Celebration

On October 6, 1817, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison attended the ceremonial placing of UVA’s first cornerstone. On October 6, 2017, a date chosen to commemorate the placing of the cornerstone, 20,000 students and alumni attended the launch celebration of UVA’s Bicentennial.

The crowd enjoyed performances by Leslie Odom Jr., Andra Day, and the Goo Goo Dolls, were wowed by a re-enactment of the Rotunda fire of 1895 (achieved via digital mapping technology) and listened to words from Katie Couric, Rita Dove, and Ralph Sampson. A partnership with University Arts, the event featured over 800 student and faculty performers. From start to finish, the kickoff celebration was packed with talent and amazing acts.
Don't worry, this time it's a virtual fire.

It was a monumental event celebrating an incredible 200-year history. What does it take to pull together a sweeping event like this, to bring in big-names and dazzling effects, to arrange for staging and sound and lighting and seating and all of the other myriad details?

First of all, says Jody Kielbasa, UVA’s Vice Provost for the Arts and “Producing Director” of the evening’s events, it takes a massive team pulling together: the Bicentennial Staff, Facilities, Safety & Emergency Preparedness, University Police, the Office of Special Events, just to name a few.

Also working behind the scenes to orchestrate a great event? Procurement & Supplier Diversity Services, namely in the form of the dedicated service of Kevin Crabtree, Senior Buyer.

“Kevin has countless hours invested in this event,” said Kielbasa.

“Many times, I’d call him on my way in to work, clarifying details, seeking his advice, adjusting plans. He was involved with the celebration every inch of the way.”

Crabtree’s responsibility was to negotiate and purchase everything from effects such as the Rotunda “fire” to video screens and staging, to the entire slate of over 800 performers (this includes managing all of their particular needs, including maintaining the correct temperature for the dancers to perform and handling all the rider requirements for the big-name talent).

The Martha Graham Dance Company was just one of the many
performances brought in for the kickoff event.

“Supporting the purchasing needs for this event for the past year has been one of the most challenging projects that I have been involved in,” said Crabtree.

“For the year leading up to the celebration, we were continually negotiating contracts and resolving contractual issues. There were so many moving parts and everything changed as we progressed. With every tweak we made, there was a waterfall effect,” he said.

An example of that waterfall effect is the addition of extra screens on stage. It seems simple, but that addition changed the allotted setup/breakdown time on the Lawn, and impacted the budgeted technician hours, the rehearsal time, and even meals to be provided to the technicians.

“It was a continual cascading of negotiations on every decision we modified,” said Crabtree.

And those modifications were frequent, said Kielbasa, due to the size and scope of the project.

“There were so many unknowns,” he said.

“A year out, we had to develop a budget and look down the road and try to anticipate all the challenges that might arise. We were working with two sound stages, hundreds and hundreds of performers, and two site locations, the Lawn and the John Paul Jones Arena as a rain site,” he added.

With all of the incredible complexity of the event, Kielbasa says Procurement’s help was invaluable.

“There is no way we could’ve done this without them. Their work was absolutely necessary. They helped us with challenging negotiations with our vendors and made sure we stayed reasonably in budget. They were with us the entire way.”

For Crabtree’s part, he was happy to be a part of the process, but also relieved that the initial event has come and gone with success. He offered this advice to anyone else on Grounds planning purchases:

“Get Procurement involved early in the process. We can provide easier paths to solutions that we might not have if we’re pulled in later in the process.”

See photos of the Bicentennial Launch Celebration

Read more about the Bicentennial Launch Celebration

UBI Training Developers' Roundtable

With the growing transition towards full adoption of the UBI reporting tool across the University, the number of UBI users surpassed those still using Discoverer. And the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing down as the days get closer to the planned Discoverer sunset for SIS reporting in Discoverer. For a “behind the scenes” perspective of those who are helping users with UBI adoption, we sat down and spoke with the team of UBI Training Developers, Matt Douglas, Linda Leshowitz, and Christopher Birkl -whose roles are to guide users into leveraging UBI for data reporting

Talk about your role as UBI Training Developers and how you promote UBI to the University.

Our role as Training Developers is to foster adoption through a forward-facing role, so getting people comfortable with the tool enough to where they’re able to able to take off and use it in their day-to-day experience.

Absolutely, I would agree. Helping them feel comfortable with the new tool, encouraging them to use it, and pointing out how it can have advantages for them – because it’s faster and can ease the path of getting the data. Sometimes when you first look at UBI it is quite a bit different from Discoverer, so you may not recognize that at first. In our role, we can point those things out, whether it be in the classroom, when we answer questions on the Community, or in Office Hours.

As trainers, the initial thought is, “Okay, they teach the classes, they do the intro training, the advanced training,” but we play a huge support role, as well.

That’s true, because we wear so many hats. Even just in email and phone communication. I like that part, because you develop some personal relationships with some of the users, and that’s a nice byproduct of training.

And you’re addressing specific situations.

Right…that helps them do their job better, more efficiently.

What are the steps you usually go through when you’re working towards a new UBI release?

First of all, we have to understand what’s coming. We meet with the Reporting team, they give us an outline of what modules are coming, or planned to come –

That’s usually a lot of talking back and forth on not just about the modules, but “Why would somebody use this?”

We have several meetings. The initial meeting might be to show us a preview of what’s coming, and then they’ll do a follow-up meeting where we actually go through the modules. Like Matt said, we’ll discuss why users would use these modules. Obviously, the modules are still in development at that point.

Then usually, we will get together as a team and then decide who’s going to do what. We’ll make assignments, depending on what people are doing – we usually do that very smoothly. We update the mapping tool, which requires getting input from the reporting team, and checking Discoverer to see what the crosswalk is.

From the time that they’re planning their release to the point where we can actually start working on creating content for the release, there’s a huge space there. Once we learn the module(s) and we’re tracking its development, then everything is pretty quiet up until the point where the module development is frozen. Then we know when everything in there is permanent and we can begin to build resources off the module. Then things get busy.

I often try to have a “skeleton” beforehand, especially if there’s a really packed week, the week of development. Like Matt was saying, it’s a pretty short timeframe that we have to turn around our guides and get up to speed. You have to be really careful because there can be changes right up to before UBI is released.

These are our Quick Reference Guides, mainly. That iterative approach that we take - we’re working on creating content all the way up until the day of the release. As Matt said, once the module content is set in stone, it gets busy. That’s why we target Wednesday after a module release – three to four days after a module is released – to have our materials out, available and ready to go. That means they’re accurate and timely, too.

We post those [Quick Reference Guides] on the UBI Community. We often get access to the modules in the Quality Assurance (QA) environment, but again, there can be changes. We have to be careful how much we develop beforehand. You have to be really flexible. Sometimes there will be something planned, and you’re assigned to it, and a few days later there’s a very legitimate reason for it to be pulled from the release and moved to the next release. So you just roll with it.

With eLearning that will replace in-person training, what are your thoughts on that development – and what is some of the feedback you’ve received?

It’s exciting. We’ve made a lot of improvements with the SIS eLearning version and have applied those to the Finance version as well.

What I really like about eLearning is you can recommend the courses as a refresher class. So even if you’ve taken an in-person Intro class, you now have the opportunity to learn self-paced, when you have the time and to review the topics you need to review – you decide. I like being able to offer that option to users. I think there are a lot of folks that like being able to do that at their own pace.

From a workforce perspective, it’s better in the long run for management to be able to say, “Hey, do this when you can, take a half-hour each day.” This makes it a lot easier to manage your workforce.

Especially with new people coming onboard, we don’t want them to have to wait for a face-to-face class. Now if you have one or two new people in your department, who can just take it immediately.

I think one of the things that surprises most people is how far eLearning has come and the quality it presents. At least that’s the feedback I’ve gotten so far.

What do you find most rewarding in your role of helping promote UBI throughout the University?

I’d say the most rewarding part of being able to train UBI is when I see a user actually gets it. When you see that light go off on their head and they realize, “Oh, if I can do this…” then they start taking it further. “I can go X, Y, and Z, too, right?” And I love being able to see users thinking critically about it and being self-motivated to take it from here. I enjoy that part.

I like it when they get excited about UBI. Like what you were saying, Matt – when they get excited about what they can do with UBI, and they’re ready to take that leap into a new reporting system. What’s particularly rewarding - whether it’s a class, Office Hours or whatever it might be - and someone sends a thank you email. It could be thanking you for your help, helping them resolve something [in UBI], or just that they’re excited about UBI and thanking you for the class instruction. That’s very rewarding and makes you feel good about what you’re doing.

Along the same lines, the knowledge that I was able to effectively help and show this user and make it click for them – they get excited. They can also take it further. That’s the biggest thing for me.

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/GL or SIS) focus course in order to gain access to UBI. Go to the UBI Training page to register for an available Intro to UBI – (GA/GL or SIS) 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.

Additions to the Office of Sponsored Programs

This October, the Office of Sponsored Programs filled two key positions.  We are pleased to introduce these new team members to you!

Gareth Evans

Gareth Evans has joined the Office of Sponsored Programs as Associate Director of Post-Award. In this role, Evans will oversee the Post Award Financial Management team and will be responsible for financial management of sponsored award portfolios.  He has twelve years of experience in university research administration, spread across three highly reputable institutions on two continents.

Gareth Evans, Associate Director
of Post-Award
His most current position was Associate Director of Research, Department of Pediatrics at Stanford University.  He had held that position since July 2013, managing a sponsored research budget of $50M and a team of 8 grant administrators. In that role, he designed and implemented a centralized post award research support structure focused on a metrics-based workload model and incorporated process mapping and documenting operating procedures.

Prior to Stanford University, Evans worked in research administration at University College, London (2005-2011) and Georgetown University, DC (2011-2013). He has participated in designing and implementing university-wide research administration systems for effective management of research applications, expenditure trends, procurement, research governance and project closeouts with greater transparency and accuracy.

Considered a subject matter expert, Evans has participated in speaking and other engagements held by the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA).  He has recently been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Research Administration Certification Council (RACC), which is responsible for the oversight of the administration of the organization, as well as the validity of its portfolio of examinations and professional certifications within the field of research administration.

Gareth will be setting up meetings with research administrators across Grounds, but if you are at Carruthers, please stop by to say “hi” to him.

Andrew Sallans

Andrew Sallans joined the Office of Sponsored Programs as the Assistant Director of Electronic Research Administration. 
In this role, Sallans will help UVA further establish and commit to electronic research administration as a “Research I” institution as well as become a data-driven research enterprise. Sallans will undertake strategic and operational work on the OSP Info Team, developing reports, ensuring data quality, increasing data fluency, benchmarking best practices at peers, connecting UVA’s internal data sets to valuable external data sets in the research arena, ensuring compliance with regulations involving Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)-related data, promoting UVA’s participation in UMETRICS ( as well as advancing ResearchUVA (including the data analytics and visualization platform, Juice).
Andrew Sallans, Assistant Director
of Electronic Research Administration

Sallans has an M.S., Management of Information Technology from UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce and an M.S., Library and Information Studies, Concentrations: IT Management & Information Architecture, from Florida State University.

His most recent position was Director of Operations at the Center for Open Science, a nationally-influential nonprofit technology organization based in Charlottesville with a mission “to increase the openness, integrity, and reproducibility of scientific research.”  In that role, Sallans was responsible for all business operations, including sponsored programs administration.  He has also held multiple positions within UVA, including head of data strategic initiatives for the UVA Library.

Sallans has significant experience presenting to a wide range of audiences, contributing to professional journals and books, and service in organizational, regional, and national professional groups.  He also has experience as a PI on several grants.

Please stop by Carruthers and welcome him back to UVA.

Cleanup of old, inactive Purchase Orders in the Integrated System to begin week of November 6

Open POs with no activity in three+ years will be finally closed

Beginning the week of November 6, Procurement & Supplier Diversity Services will begin finally closing open, inactive purchase orders lingering in the Integrated System. The POs set to be finally closed are those that have had no invoicing activity in three or more years. Most of these POs have remained open because they have not been fully invoiced against, usually due to a discount being extended or a change in quantity of goods received.

This is simply an “FYI” – there is nothing you need to do at this time. Finally closing these POs should not have a negative impact on schools and units. Any money remaining on POs that are finally closed will be returned to the PTAO.

The POs are being finally closed due to PSDS’ transition to Total Supplier Management (TSM), a new solution for managing supplier registration and payment. TSM is a tool provided by Jaggaer (formerly SciQuest), the vendor who supports our UVA Marketplace, and will streamline and automate vendor registration and payment processes.

Finally closing the inactive POs will allow us to deactivate vendors no longer used by UVA. This will ensure that the vendor file will be current and accurate when we go live with TSM.

In the unlikely event that you are contacted for payment by a vendor on one of the finally closed POs, contact a buyer within PSDS for assistance.

Questions? Concerns? Let us know; we’re happy to help! 434-924-4212

Get Grounded: Learn more about UVA and UVAFinance colleagues

UVAFinance enjoyed its first "Get Grounded" event this October.
The first field trip was to the McCormick Observatory.

On October 5, 19 members of the UVAFinance team headed across Grounds to visit the McCormick observatory.  This “finance field trip” was conceived by UVAFinance’s Employee Engagement Committee as a way to build connections between colleagues and give them the opportunity to experience the places and activities at UVA they may only have seen on paper while doing their daily work.

Called “Get Grounded,” these field trip sessions are set to become a regular offering for UVAFinance staff.

For the past year, UVAFinance employees have taken advantage of Lunch and Learn sessions coordinated by the Employee Engagement Committee and Finance Outreach and Compliance.  With topics ranging from using dealing with change to using, Lunch and Learns are optional, informational sessions for UVAFinance employees.  According to Patty Marbury, Chair of the Employee Engagement Committee, the “Get Grounded” series is a way to take the Lunch and Learn concept on the road.

“In Finance, we are involved with so many areas at UVA.  We know a little bit about everything that’s going on, but we don’t necessarily get to see things in action,” Marbury said.

Danielle Hancock, a member of the Steering Committee, used her connections with the Astronomy department to arrange for the inaugural trip. Prior to joining UVAFinance, Danielle was a fiscal administrator in Astronomy. “The Observatory is a cool place to go on Grounds that’s out of the way and not everyone knows about,” she said.

The group got a full tour of the Observatory, learned about the weather station, viewed a 26-inch telescope used by students to learn research with astronomy, and even had the chance to view glass slides of the stars. 

Isaiah Behnke of Student Financial Services said the Observatory visit was a great experience and something he’d wanted to do for a while. For Behnke, getting a behind-the-scenes tour with his UVAFinance colleagues made it even better.

Gareth Evans of Sponsored Programs, a new employee in UVAFinance as of October 4, attended Get Grounded as a way to learn more about his new workplace. 

“The trip was fascinating,” he commented.

“The professor who led the tour was clearly very excited about his work.  Fieldtrips like these help staff to relate how our daily work supports research programs across Grounds, so I’m keen to see other areas and labs in the future,” he added.

Have an idea for a Get Grounded event?  Contact Patty Marbury or comment below!

Juice demos running this November

Learn more about working with Juice, a reporting and analytics platform for sponsored program data at UVA!

With the official launch of UVA’s Juice dashboard within ResearchUVA on Monday, October 30, the UVA research community will have access to a wealth of analytics about UVA’s research activity.

The first hour-long training sessions well be held in November, introducing attendees to the major features and capabilities of the dashboard, and highlighting how to interact with the data to see trends and details across proposals, awards, expenditures, fiscal years, sponsors, departments, and many other dimensions.

The Electronic Research Administration team from Sponsored programs will be on hand to show attendees how to answer common questions on sponsored research activities and discuss limitations of the current data and future directions for the dashboard.

No registration required.

Monday, November 6, 10:00 am, Newcomb Hall Commonwealth Room

Monday, November 13, 3:00 pm, Bavaro Hall, Room 116

SEAS and SOM: separate sessions will be held for your schools; please look for information on these sessions from your research administrators.

Visit ResearchUVA in the next few days for FAQs and reference materials about using Juice!

Give your colleagues a shout out – they could win a prize!

The “Collaborative Space” board in Carruthers Hall is a great place to show your colleagues a little appreciation: just jot a quick note on the board or use one of the “You Rock” sheets, or one of the new UVAFinance mission-specific shout out sheets.

Shout-outs on the Collaborative Space in Carruthers Hall
Beginning last month, the Employee Engagement Committee randomly draws two winners from the Collaborative board – anyone whose name is included on any kind of shoutout on the board is eligible to win, provided there’s a reason for the shout out included.

If you’re outside of Carruthers, please feel free to send your shout outs (and the reason behind them) to Brandi Van Ormer, and she will gladly post it for you.

The new “recognition raffle” will take place every Finance Shirt Friday, just like the Spirit Raffle, and after the winners are chosen each month, the board will be cleaned off for a new round of shout outs and new chances to win.

So go on, give a colleague a shout out -- It only takes a minute to recognize your co-workers and spread some encouragement!

PSDS co-hosts another great SWaMfest

SWaMfest a demonstration of UVA's commitment to small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses

Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services SWaM representatives were proud to help host the 13th annual SWaMfest, the Commonwealth’s premier event for networking, education, and professional development for small, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses. 

The event is hosted yearly by the Virginia Association of State College & University Purchasing Professionals (VASCUPP), of which UVA is a member institution, with the goal of helping attendees navigate the process of doing business with Virginia and its state colleges and universities.

This year’s event was attended by more than 450 business people, who were able to connect not only with other small businesses but also with university and government personnel who can offer guidance on how to best market their goods and services to Virginia’s colleges and Universities.

In addition to a vendor fair, attendees were treated to breakout sessions on leadership and professional development, along with practical sessions on working with Virginia entities. 
SWaMfest attendees enjoy a breakout session 

Les Haughton, Director of Supplier Diversity at UVA, had the pleasure of welcoming the group on the second full day of the event.

“SWaMfest reflects our commitment to maximizing the participation of small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses through the development of mutually beneficial business relationships,” he said.

“We believe this program has the potential to create better partners, stronger customers, and economic growth for our vendors, our schools and departments, and our community.”

Another way PSDS seeks to interact with SWaM vendors is through their free bi-monthly vendor trainings. These trainings give both current and potential vendors a better understanding of buying and paying at UVA.

The next training will be held Wednesday, November 8 (register here). For more information about UVA’s SWaM efforts, click here.

Mark your calendar: VOTE on November 7!

“We in America do not have government by the majority.  We have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson

Make plans to participate.  Vote on November 7.

Supervisors, please be flexible with time so that employees can make time for this important responsibility.

More information on voting in Virginia (including polling places, what’s on the ballot, etc.) HERE.

Second Annual UVAFinance Thanksgiving Food Drive

This season, UVAFinance will again be collecting food and monetary donations for the Community Feast Project.  Last year, UVAFinance put together over 12 baskets for needy families in the Charlottesville/Albemarle area, contributing to the over 200 that were distributed in total. 

Let's see if we can beat that total this year!

Items needed:  monetary donations for turkey, box of granulated sugar, brown sugar, canned yams, canned green beans, canned milk, 5 lb bag of potatoes, package of dinner rolls, box of pasta, jar/can of turkey gravy, box of stuffing, can of cranberry, cake mix, cake frosting.

Collection boxes will be located throughout Carruthers Hall -- be on the lookout.  When you bring an item, mark it off the list that will be affixed to the collection box.  Cash donations can be submitted to Stacey Rittenhouse or Nicole Ferretti in the VP Finance Suite.

All donations are due no later than Wednesday, November 16.

Thank you for your generosity!

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.