Thursday, March 26, 2020

From Melody's Desk - A message to the UVAFinance Team

Dear Team,

I hope that you were able to relax this past weekend and maybe even caught the replay of UVA’s national championship win on tv – reigning champs for two years now! During this second week of telework, I wanted to share President Ryan’s message of appreciation to the UVA community for efforts last week as we moved to the unprecedented telework and virtual instruction environment in an amazingly graceful fashion: Pres Ryan 3/21 message

At the 2:17 mark, President Ryan makes a specific shout-out to the SFS team who has been working with Student Affairs for days, nights and weekends to award funds to students who needed financial assistance to travel home or to get equipped for online classes. At the same time, SFS worked with Business Operations to determine how to best get housing and dining refunds to students, with Admissions to deliver financial aid awards to regular decision applicants who were accepted last Wednesday, and with our payroll team to ensure that our students on work study will continue to get paid. This is service excellence and collaborative partnering, in a nutshell.

Thanks also to our AP team for coming into the office every day to process the financial aid awards, to the travel team who addressed a boatload of complex travel and expense reimbursement questions, to the contracts team who made easy work of several critical emergency procurements, and to our risk management team who is aggressively pursuing ideas to see how UVA may recover extraordinary costs incurred related to COVID-19.

I am so appreciative of efforts of ASG and our LSPs to ensure that we could all work remotely. A lot of normal operational work proceeded in not normal circumstances. The first academic payroll conducted under our new working conditions processed successfully on Friday. Work progressed on the FY20 year-end close and FY21 budgets. The treasury and endowments teams began to evaluate the impact of a volatile financial market. FST and Deloitte began to work collaboratively with team members located across the country to ensure that our finance transformation continues on schedule (see more of my thoughts on FST within the Online Community).

As we continue to adjust to this new world, be on the lookout for information from our UVAFinance training team on how to best work remotely, to hold effective meetings via Zoom, and to get the most from Microsoft Teams. I ask you to take advantage of this unusual time to think differently about how we do our work. What steps in our work are really not needed? How do we improve communications when we have to rely on new ways to connect? Can we take advantage of new tools (DocuSign and digital signatures) to streamline processes? Share your new ideas and shortcuts with your teammates.

Remember to stay connected with your colleagues through our various communication channels: UVAFinance blog, Finance Matters podcast, UVAFinance twitter, UVAFinance community

Thank you for all you are doing to keep UVAFinance moving smoothly. I am proud of everything that we are doing. Stay safe, maintain social distancing, and I hope to see you all in person very soon.


Resources for Navigating the Crisis

We're on week two of a vastly different working situation and a rapidly changing world.  There's no telling what will happen next or how long the COVID-19 response will last.  One of the few things we can control is our response to a stressful situation.

We've compiled some resources below that might be helpful.  Please feel free to share resources that you have found helpful for future editions of the blog (you can comment below or email

Take care!

A special thank you to Cynthia Douglass, Danielle Hancock, Linda Leshowitz, UVA Today, and the FOC team for links they've contributed.

UVA Resources

Human Resources information page

Help with Remote Work

UVAToday articles

Online Exercise classes 

(many are free or offer free trial)

Mindfulness & Meditation

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

FST Updates

We may be working remotely, but the FST project is moving right along!
Want to hear FST updates instead of reading them?  Tune in to WFST Radio's March 26 broadcast!

If you’re reading this blog post, you deserve a high five for the way that you and your team members have rallied together to continue making things happen even in a world that changes radically daily, sometimes hourly.

Finance Strategic Transformation is also moving right along. The team and our stakeholders have adjusted to working remotely – data gathering sessions, steering meetings, and team meetings have moved online and deadlines continue to be met.

FST Team leadership and our executive sponsors are working closely together to consider how the project timeline will be impacted if we are required to work remotely for longer stretches of time. In the meantime, we’re exploring ways to engage our stakeholder groups remotely.

We’re still hiring positions that need to be filled and onboarding new team members, too. The project team is close to hiring a technical lead, and we continue to bring in new folks. One recent addition you may interact with is Anthony Pearson, a new administrative assistant over at One Morton Drive.

The FST website will be overhauled by mid-April. Changes will include a new and improved FAQ fed by questions from the field, high-level summaries and ongoing updates for each area of work, including the budget pilot and change management, a complete team directory, and resources for our stakeholders to understand all facets of the project and to be able to share easily with their teams.
While you can always find all the details in the Online Community, as well as interacting with colleagues and sharing ideas and questions there, our aim with the website is to make it an easy place to get the basics.

New on the Online Community:

New on Finance Matters: Adjusting to Remote Work

Listen here: 
For most of us, working remotely due to COVID-19 related restrictions has been an adjustment, to say the least.

 Not only are we coping with a new way of getting things done, but also, the complications that come from being in close proximity to our family members and finding new ways of connecting with our colleagues. 

 On this podcast, Patty and Brandi get together (remotely of course) to discuss ways to navigate this new world we're working in -- from engaging with your team members to working with Zoom and Office 365. 

Getting the Foundation Data Model Right

An FDM update from Allison Holt and Thomas Schneeberger, Chart of Accounts/Foundation Model Co-Leads, Finance Strategic Transformation

Now that the Finance Strategic Transformation (FST) project is in Phase 3: Implementation, we’re acting on information gathered about the chart of accounts (COA) to inform design of the foundation data model (FDM), Workday’s term for COA. During the past month, we determined the worktags that we plan to use in the tenant, defined preliminary fund values, and decided how program, project, and activity will be used.
See the FDM page on the Community:

Through engagement sessions with the FDM group and follow-up sessions with the Business Officers Council and unit contacts, we’ve discussed how the program, project, and activity worktags might be used for future managerial reporting. 

We also launched the FDM Community Page to provide a location for our partners across the University to see updates on FDM topics and review user scenarios, proposed programs, and our outstanding items list. We encourage you to regularly review this site and provide feedback and additional scenarios as you think of them. As we progress through phase 3 and begin working in the tenant, it will be critical that we capture user stories from across the organization to model and test.

Work has commenced building our foundation tenant in Workday Financials. With our unique instance of Workday established, in the next few months testing will be planned and started. We’ll be able to work with UVA data and the user scenarios discussed above to assess what changes need to be made, further refine our understanding of which worktags we’ll use, and develop a clearer understanding of how our current-state approaches will effectively evolve in the future state.

New Continuous Improvement Resources Available

Continuous Improvement is at the heart of Finance Strategic Transformation, and UVAFinance's mission.

UVAFinance strives to meet the needs of the University community, and a big part of that is maintaining a culture of continuous improvement. We focus on better training and process standardization in order to produce results more effectively and better support our stakeholders and the University's mission.

The UVAFinance Continuous Improvement Committee (CIC) works to guide UVAFinance to meet these goals while minimizing the burden on faculty and staff.  

To aid in the development of continuous improvement in the finance community, the CIC has built a dedicated space for resources, interaction, and assistance in the online Community.  Access it here:

Learn more about the CIC by viewing the video below!

UVAFinance Meeting Changes

Now that we are well into Phase 3 of Finance Strategic Transformation, UVAFinance is hoping to repurpose a few monthly events to keep stakeholders informed about the latest goings-on of the project. The first event changing is the Business Officers Council. BOC members will now be a part of our Advisory Group (see more on project governance on the FST Website).

The second event affected will be the Fiscal Administrators meeting. Unlike the Business Officers Council, the Fiscal Administrators meeting will still take place each month. (You can see the meeting schedule on the Finance Reporting and Operations website.) However, from now until the end of the project part of each Fiscal Administrators meeting will focus on FST updates, demonstrations, and time for questions and discussion.

These changes are happening for a few reasons. Firstly, FST is hoping to encourage involvement in the project from everyone within the finance community. Secondly, this will allow for fewer meetings taking up your valuable time!

With that said, this is a time of transition and uncertainty. The next Advisory Group was planned for April 8th, in Bavaro Hall, and the next Fiscal Administrators meeting for April 15th, in Newcomb Hall’s South Meeting Room. However, it is unlikely these events will be on Grounds for the foreseeable future. Those invited to the meetings should look for updates regarding online meetings.

We look forward to seeing you on screen soon!

If you have any questions, please reach out to the FST team via the Community or send an email to

The Culture Crew brings you Virtual Shout Outs

Working remotely means it's not as easy to give your colleagues a "shout out" when they do something exceptional.  At the same time, our physical separation makes it even more important for us to stay connected.  

While we can't use our Shout Out board in Carruthers Hall, it's still possible to share your kudos, appreciation, and compliments.  Just email them to and we'll publish them in a "Virtual Shout Out Board" in every blog digest!

Note:  Since we're participating remotely, we encourage our finance family all across Grounds to participate!

Your shout outs can be submitted to 

Communication Best Practices for the New World of Remote Work

Now that most of our colleagues are working remotely, our tried and true methods of communication may no longer apply.  Read on for some considerations to keep in mind as we navigate these unprecedented times. 

The Basics

Set expectations with your team. We are not just working remotely; we’re working remotely within a uniquely complex situation. Your colleagues may be caring for children and/or family members (perhaps even ill family members). What has always been “a normal work day” may have radically changed on an individual basis.

  • Don’t forget one on one communication. These meetings are even more important now. Use them to your advantage and be more prepared than you normally might have been with in-person meetings.
  • Consider individual preferences. Find out what methods of communication work best for your team members/colleagues.
  • Strive more than ever to be concise. More of your communication than usual will be done via writing. Don’t make people wade through a ton of words to get your point.
  • Be as reliable as you would be if your colleagues could see you face to face. No matter where we are working, our colleagues still expect responses, collaboration, etc.

Communicate using the right method at the right time

  • Emails should typically be reserved for single/fairly straightforward messages. It can be easy for multiple details to get lost in a single email. Break those messages up if you must use email. Be clear in your email what your ask is (next steps, due dates, etc.), use the subject line strategically to reflect the desired action to be taken, and get to the point early in the message.
  • If the message is particularly complex and or there might be questions about tone, a phone call might be more appropriate. You can follow up with details via email if necessary.
  • Skype is best used for organizing lighter, more social aspects of a remote team, discussing certain aspects of a project casually or having brief catch-ups with an employee.
  • If you have something substantial to say, or it’s a topic that’s open to discussion, consider a phone call or organize a Zoom conversation.

Keep in mind that working remotely (especially in a changing situation such as ours) can involve details you haven’t considered before:

  • We may need to plan conversations and meetings more carefully to avoid the risk of interruptions. It can be more difficult to create a distraction-free zone in the new environments in which we find ourselves working, so we should plan carefully to ensure useful interactions.
  • Establish communication norms in your new remote work lives. We may find ourselves working more outside of “normal” business hours. Set up clear expectations with your team and colleagues on expectations for a response to messages after hours. See the email guidance above and consider putting the expected response time in your subject line.
  • Avoid bombarding your team with messages. Whereas you might be able to chat more freely and quickly/easily share information when you’re in the same place physically, this can get overwhelming over digital media. Don’t abuse the access points you have to your team/colleagues.
  • Watch for the unconsciously different way you process written interaction vs. text-based communication. In the absence of contexts like body language and tone, written communication can be easily misread. Your colleagues and team members may also express themselves differently than accustomed in a different format (emojis, abbreviated text speak, etc.).
  • Be intentional about the softer things. The chat you might’ve done in the hallways that builds rapport will have to be done differently, but it is still important to team bonding and our own sense of wellbeing. We still need to appreciate one another, interact socially, check on our colleagues, recognize achievement, etc. It can be easy to forget these things when we are not physically together, but we can keep the connection if we prioritize it and think creatively.

Take advantage of the tools we have within UVAFinance

  • Office 365 Teams: File sharing, collaborative work, skype messaging (with GIFs, even!), tracking tasks and projects through Planner, and so much more! If you haven’t already become familiar with this resource, now is definitely the time.  See FOC's resources here:
  • We have a variety of communication channels that suddenly carry much more weight when we aren’t all occupying the same space. Stay plugged in through the UVAFinance blog, our podcasts, and the online Community.  We also have a short form podcast dedicated to the FST project that you can tune in to.
  • The Online Community is a fusion of an intranet and social media. If you haven’t already been an active member, take the plunge. It is one of the best ways to stay in the know about Finance Strategic Transformation; plus, conversation is informal and open because it is behind NetBadge. Go in and ask questions, share ideas, and interact with colleagues while staying plugged in to the FST project.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Catch Up With FST

Want to listen to this update instead of reading it?  Tune in to WFST Radio!

Phase 3 Updates

  • We’re building the foundation tenant in Workday.  This is our UVA instance of Workday Financials and provides us with something to work from when we start designing future state business processes and testing out the chart of accounts. 
  • Thomas Schneeberger and Allison Holt continue to work hard and do a lot of outreach on the chart of accounts/foundation data model and have put together a blueprint and some use cases to work within the tenant.  This will allow us to make sure the chart does what schools and units need it to do in terms of reporting and analytics. Later, in the fourth quarter, we’ll decide on worktags and move into data conversion.

Click image for a larger view

  • As of this week, over 250 total attendees will have represented their school or unit at a multitude of data-gathering sessions. Thank you to everyone who took part in those sessions!
  • The phase of FST we’re in now, through early summer, is the Architecture phase, where we really begin to work together to build the future of finance together. From there, we’ll move into Data Architecture sessions in late March through June– in those sessions, we’ll be able to see our data in the system as we design. We’ll review functional areas in Workday and required configuration, identify decisions for configuration, business processes, conditional logic, and workflow routing, and align on configuration, user stories, personas, and additional transformational opportunities.

Team Updates

We have over 40 positions filled and several more posted.  We’re in good shape on the functional side of the project, in change management and in finance, but we still have work to do on the technical side. We’re exploring multiple channels to get those technical positions filled.  

See more FST news on the Online Community: including:

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Rocket Launches, Portraits, and Landscapes (Oh My!): UVAFinance Photographer Does It All

Northrop Grumman Antares rocket and Cygnus resupply spacecraft launch
Antares rocket and Cygnus spacecraft launch
UVAFinance’s own Matt Bonham, an accomplished professional photographer, uses his camera to get closer to his interests. The latest adventure that’s taken him on was to photograph Northrop Grumman’s Antares rocket and Cygnus resupply spacecraft launch, bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

Bonham participated in the launch through the NASA Social program, which gives those interested in NASA who have a social media presence the opportunity to gain behind-the-scenes access to NASA facilities and experts. To get a “creative refresh” (as he puts it), meet new people with similar interests, and tour interesting places such as a NASA control room, Bonham applied for the program and NASA selected him.

“It was just one of those cool, once-in-a-lifetime type of experiences, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it,” Bonham says.

Rocket being prepped
On Feb. 15, 2020, Bonham set up at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility here in Virginia for the third time, having been ready twice before when the mission got scrubbed. He prepped two cameras: one set up lower with a remote wireless trigger via phone app and another at a higher angle to shoot by hand. He’d arrived about an hour ahead of time to get his equipment ready. Since he shoots in manual mode, he adjusted the camera settings every minute or so. It was key to get the timing right. The countdown neared launch and at three seconds he triggered the lower camera, tossed his phone, and began snapping rapid shots by hand with the higher camera. As evidenced by the pictures, Bonham’s approach worked.

Rocket launch with billowing smoke

Illuminated rocket at night on launchpad  The launch was Northrop Grumman’s 13th supply mission with NASA, and Cygnus carried over 7,000 pounds of scientific experiments and crew supplies to ISS. In the future, Bonham hopes to photograph a manned launch.

Bonham started in photography in childhood, taking pictures of landscapes and family members. A self-described introvert, Bonham explained that photography helped him come out of his shell.

“I always felt I had weird ways of seeing the world. Among other ways, I also see the world in the rule of thirds,” Bonham says. In photography, the rule of thirds is an approach to composition where images are broken into three sections horizontally and vertically and that helps determine where to position the subject of the photo.

“Photography has helped me understand stories about people. It’s helped me capture things that I love and expanded my self-confidence.”

Transitioning from family photographer to professional, Bonham continued with landscapes and portraiture. His work branched into photographing concerts for several national publications. Taking pictures at the benefit concert: A Concert for Charlottesville and of Gregory Alan Isakov performing with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center were among some of his favorite experiences.

“I want to represent performers as they are as artists, their uniqueness,” Bonham says. “I don’t want just another music shot of someone eating a mic. I want my work to be different than others.”

Bonham advises aspiring photographers to take photos in manual mode. He started that way and made many mistakes but, more importantly, learned a lot. Doing so enables people learn about how the camera works and gain confidence. His other advice is to practice, and, when it comes to equipment, start small. Get the best gear one can to make the most of the investment, he suggests, but doing research and buying items when people are sure they need them will save them from trying to sell expensive unnecessary equipment later. 

“A camera is one of the best ways for someone to express themselves creatively,” Bonham says.

To see more of Bonham’s work, visit his website at

Sunday, March 8, 2020

New on Finance Matters: Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

After studying the behavior of thousands of children and adolescents, researcher Carol S. Dweck noticed that some children seemed eager to learn and grow, while some seemed more satisfied with the status quo, fearing failure. 

 Dweck's resulting work introduced the "growth mindset," describing those individuals who view talent and natural ability as only the starting point that can be built upon through dedication and hard work. 

Whether we have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset affects how we deal with change, with failure, and with opportunity, whether that is in our work lives, raising children, or in our relationships. 

 Listen in as Patty and Brandi discuss the basics of Dweck's theory and how we can develop a mindset that enables us to grow.


Resources mentioned:

Learn more about Carol Dweck:

25 ways to develop a growth mindset:

Skype for Business Online is Retiring May 18

ITS will retire its instance of Skype for Business on May 18, 2020. This alleviates the confusion of using Skype for Business & Teams, ours & Microsoft’s preferred replacement for Skype for Business.

Currently, UVA has our Office 365 ITS Central tenant configured to run in "coexistence" mode. This mode allows for Skype for Business communications and Teams communications to be delivered to both endpoints. This actually causes confusion to the end-user because Teams chats happen in teams and Skype chats happen in Skype. 

Our plan to move to "Teams Only" mode will mean that all communication, regardless of where it started, will be delivered in Teams, even if the other person is using Skype for Business.

Training materials will be developed by ITS and UVA Finance to assist you with this transition. We will have those materials and other information out to you as soon as they are available.

UVAFinance and FST Team Members: Get your headshot!

Do you need a headshot?  We've got you covered! 

Not gonna lie; it isn't going to be
like this.  But they will be
really nice pictures.  
Our photographer Matt Bonham will be taking headshots for UVAFinance and FST Team Members outside Carruthers Hall, weather permitting, on two days this spring.  

Find available time slots here and sign up: 

Questions?  Concerns? Contact Brandi Van Ormer.

Spring FOCUS is coming soon!

VCU is excited to host the spring FOCUS conference. Please visit for details including the conference agenda.

FOCUS Spring 2020, hosted by VCU

March 31st – April 1st 2020

Location: The Hilton Richmond Short Pump Hotel
12042 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA, 23233

Register for the conference online via this link
  • Pre-Conference (March 30th) ARMICS Roundtable is $25 (ARMICS coordinators only)
  • Pre-Conference (March 30th) VSCPA Ethics Training is $80 (please note registration is limited)
  • FOCUS Conference registration is $295
View conference CPE information here
The link to reserve a room is:,WW,HILTONLINK,EN,DirectLink&fromId=HILTONLINKDIRECT or call (804) 364-3600 and reference "FOCUS Spring 2020". Please note the deadline for hotel room reservations is 5:00pm, March 12, 2020.

New from Parking & Transportation: Old Ivy Shuttle

Beginning March 2nd, UVA Parking and Transportation will pilot a van shuttle service to connect the Old Ivy Rd corridor to Central Grounds and UVA Health. The shuttle will be an option for employees on Old Ivy Rd to get to meetings on Grounds, while also providing transportation for visitors to the departments along Old Ivy Rd.

The Old Ivy Shuttle will run 7:50 AM to 5:50 PM, Monday through Friday, with service every 20 minutes. The shuttle will be free to ride, available to everyone, and will utilize P&T Safe Ride vans. Timetables with hourly departure and arrival times are available below as well as a route map.

Traveling from Old Ivy to Central Grounds and UVA Health
Departure Times
Arrival Times
Old Ivy Rd
Ivy Rd
Central Grounds
@ Ruffner Hall
UVA Health
@ Lane Rd
Traveling from UVA Health and Central Grounds to Old Ivy
Departure Times
Arrival Times
UVA Health
@ Lane Rd
Central Grounds
@ UVA Bookstore
Ivy Rd
Old Ivy Rd

A close up of a map

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This information is also available on the P&T website. If you have any questions, please email