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.
- 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
Fifteen School of Medicine departments collaborated from July 2016 to November 2017 to discuss pooling resources to develop one financial and reporting system that can integrate with current University systems. Departments achieved consensus on the needs within three areas of:
- 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. Nine SOM departments committed to join, and other departments or units may join in the future.
WHO AND WHEN: Development and Timeline
The University Faculty Information & Support (UFIS) team will develop and maintain the tool. This project will be governed by the participating departments and the SVPHS Office. Planning and design began in late FY 2018, and Phase 1 of the project will launch by the end of FY 2019. The details of and timeline for future phases will be decided by the governing committee, with the approval of the Faculty Data Steering Committee that prioritizes all UFIS projects.
HOW: Funding Sources
For FY 2019, development support will be covered via a one-time buy-in amount of $15,000 per SOM department/program. 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
The balance of costs for FY 2019 will be covered by the Office of Senior VP for Health Sciences. The model for future funding support (starting in FY 2020) will be decided by the department governing committee.