OBJECTIVE: Develop a shared resource for University departments to bridge system gaps, streamline processes and allow faculty and senior leadership to better understand their financial position and make informed operational and strategic decisions. WHY: Current Status of University Systems University-wide research, financial, payroll, and procurement management systems and processes are not yet fully integrated which can cause gaps in operational processes and reporting. As a result, departments develop work-around systems using Excel, in-house databases or by purchasing third-party systems. Each department’s process is different, resulting in varied interactions with and requests to Campus central offices. Gaps include:
- The need for flexible routing to track and approve procurement requests prior to interaction with University systems. Involving the right people up front results in correct, clean transactions that save time for departments and central offices later.
- The ability to conduct a thorough financial reconciliation using technology to identify transactions that clear as expected so the focus can be on a timely review of variances.
- The need for consistent, interactive reporting and forecasting that includes pending transactions not yet captured in University systems. This flexibility is particularly important in grants management.
- The need for a tool that supports inter-departmental collaboration.
WHAT: Coming Together for a Unified Solution Ten School of Medicine departments are currently collaborating and pooling resources to develop one financial and reporting system that can integrate with current University systems. Departments have achieved consensus on the needs within multiple areas of functionality, including:
- Transaction Approval Process
- Procurement Process (in complement with, not replacing, current University systems)
- Reconciliation Tool & Data Repository
- Reporting for interactive projections and dashboards
A proposal was submitted and approved by the VP of Research and the Health Sciences CFO. The project also has support from the SVP for Health Sciences, AVP for Research, and the Budgeting and Planning Office. Ten SOM departments have committed to join or are actively using the system, and other departments or units may join in the future. WHO AND WHEN: Development and Timeline The University Faculty Information & Support (UFIS) team develops and maintains the tool. This project is governed by the participating departments and the SVPHS Office. The system launched July 1, 2019 and already multiple departments are using the tool for all or a portion of their financial tracking and decision making processes. The details of and timeline for future phases are decided by the governing committee, with the approval of the Faculty Data Steering Committee that prioritizes all UFIS projects. HOW: Funding Sources Development is supported via a one-time buy-in amount of $15,000 per SOM department/program and an annual fee of $15,000. Colleges/Departments/Programs/Units outside of Health Sciences may join as well (buy-in amount will be based on proportional size). The buy-in will allow departments:
- a voice in the development of the system and its features
- active access to the progress of the development, and
- training and technical support