Update on our strategic plan

With the recent approval of the 2021/22 budget with the Board of Governors, we are ready to start a new fiscal year. I want to say thanks for your help managing the impacts of COVID-19, your efforts to reduce spending across the university, and your continuing work to stabilize our new systems. This has been a lot of effort and you have done it well. I am proud of your resilience and continued collaboration.

In November, I sent an update that highlighted our plan to begin a process of transformational change within the VPFO, following our strategic plan’s focus on renewal and optimization. As we start our new fiscal year, I want to share a brief update on our progress.

Aligning our portfolio: starting with the foundation

Our ability to deliver operational excellence stands on the quality of our systems and processes. The VPFO leadership team has been listening closely to your experience with Workday and Planon and we’re making some quick adjustments to better support you.

Under the leadership of the ISC steering committee, and with sponsorship from AVP Finance & Operational Excellence Elana Mignosa, Comptroller Karamjeet Heer, and AVP Adam Charania from HR, we are standing up a project to complete the Release 1 work on Planon and Workday functionality that was delayed past launch. John Thompson, who you may know from his leadership of the AEP project, will manage the project to complete the original scope. Also, directly reporting to Elana, we have a new Director of Payroll, Dawn Irmscher. Dawn will continue to foster good relationships with all stakeholders, lead the development of our payroll people, processes and systems, and ensure the accuracy of your pay as we continue to stabilize our systems.

In addition to these operational changes, over the past months, our portfolio leadership has worked to combine and integrate our support services across the VPFO. Changes to our Administration, Communications, and Human Resources departments will help ensure the resources and responsibilities of these teams are better able to shift across the portfolio to respond to our most urgent and important work.

Joining these initial transitions, we are now reviewing our portfolio’s Finance team to develop the same level of portfolio-wide alignment and flexibility in addition to building out our new Operational Excellence department. These changes will serve as our foundation to work together more closely, more efficiently and more effectively.

Beyond transforming our supporting functions and systems, we have also begun the foundational cultural work of starting our portfolio’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion program. This work will be a significant part of reassessing our culture as we realign our business. I want to ensure that all teams in the VPFO are supported and all voices are included not only in our transformation but on an ongoing basis.

Our next alignment: our customer-facing departments

Our next step is to continue our transformation of the VPFO into a more unified portfolio. Throughout this process we will approach this challenge as one VPFO team, supporting each other no matter our department, position, or work location.

Building on our foundational work, we have started to look across the VPFO at our opportunities for stronger alignment and integration in our customer-facing departments. In some cases, we will start with better alignment within the departments, to integrate and support units and teams who already work alongside each other. In other cases, we will look to move similar functions together at the portfolio level to create unified teams and services. And we will explore having other teams from other parts of UBC integrated into or connected to our portfolio.

This work, while not easy, will set us up to be a more integrated and aligned team, make our work more transparent and flexible, and better support each other and the university. Your department’s management teams will be sharing more information about their coming priorities and further specifics of individual change initiatives.

The start of our new work: improved efficiency and customer service

As we complete our larger-scale realignment, we will be looking to new processes and tools to further enhance our integration and improve operational efficiencies. To help us make this transition, our new Operational Excellence department will work side-by-side with us to find opportunities to simplify, standardize or even automate our work — all with the goal of the Operational Excellence department eventually becoming a centre of excellence for the university.

Alongside this work, the portfolio leadership team will continue to push forward another aspect of our cultural transformation by building and implementing a more standardized customer service model. Our focus will continue to be on providing excellent customer service while making our operations more transparent to our clients — to improve their ability to understand and use our services, in support of the university’s academic mission.

Going forward together

The coming months will require a significant amount of reflection and reinvention. We will be asked to look at how we do our work so that we can work better with others. It will challenge us, but we will make our jobs more rewarding and create more opportunities to work in different ways with new peers. I look forward to our progress together.