Message from the CFO: Rise to the occasion

Last week we hosted Welcome Week for Knight Vision here at UCF. It was a much anticipated day in our pivot to go live with the new Workday system on July 1st. The excitement, nervousness, concern, anxiety and relief are all summed up in the comments and reactions we received. As we’ve shared before, change isn’t easy, and with us making major changes to our financial and operational process for the first time in nearly 20 years, all emotions and observations are valid and understood.

(Photo by Nick Leyva ’15)

These changes may bring some concern, but they must be undertaken if we are to become the university of tomorrow. We accepted this challenge because we cannot maintain our current processes and practices if we are to fulfill our mission and our new strategic plan. Workday and Service Enhancement Transformation (SET) will help us collaborate and work as one FCU in these efforts. Using Workday will ultimately improve and streamline our practices, bring more transparency to our budget, and deliver better data faster that will enable strategic decision-making.

Many of you have taken advantage of the training available online to prepare for these changes. If you have not accessed the training catalog, we encourage you to do so. The Knight Vision team has done a wonderful job packing a variety of helpful tips and resources into their weekly emails, and I encourage everyone to read and share the June 24 edition if they don’t. haven’t seen yet. It explains how to interact with kNEXT, Workday Help and Business Centers. If you’re looking for where to start – knext.ucf.edu is there when it launches! The site will be live by July 1, as will the customer service team if you need to call us at 407-823-NEXT (6398).

We checked off all the objectives to make our decision to “go live”. They are, (i) pay our people, (ii) pay our bills, (iii) close our books, and (iv) hire our people. All four will be met. We have a dedicated and committed group working with our implementation partners, Accenture and Huron, to make our launch a success. We know that trying to modernize our system, our processes, our practices and, in some cases, the policies that govern our financial and operational effectiveness and efficiency means that we will have a bumpy road at first. As we continue testing and validating, we discover processes and practices that we will visit and revisit many times until we can get as close to automation as possible.

You may have heard us talk about the desire to match our financial and operational efficiency with our world-class research, academic rigor and public service. This is our main objective. You may also have heard the phrase “we are moving from the Flintstones to the Jetsons with our financial and operating systems”. This is our secondary objective. The two are mutually exclusive, but in order to elevate our university to this higher level of operational effectiveness and efficiency, they are inextricably linked.

We have chosen several examples to highlight our journey towards continuous improvement as Knight Vision is rolled out and matured over the coming weeks, months and years. Here are a few:

  1. For expenses, it is not necessary to submit monthly packages of paper statements. All receipts and approvals will be included in the Workday expense report.
  2. It is not necessary to submit paper reimbursement packages. All expenses and receipts are submitted and approved in Workday. Employees will be able to see where their expense authorization and expense reports are located in Workday’s approval workflow. Photos of receipts can be added to Workday via the mobile app, making it easy to track receipts while travelling.
  3. We have reconfigured our core financial and human resources systems by adopting a modern approach around the timely and accurate recording, summarizing and reporting of financial information.
  4. We launched adaptive planning in March 2021. While still to be fine-tuned, this effort gave us the opportunity to create the university’s first “bottom-up” academic budget as part of our new budgeting model for responsibility center management (RCM). Under the RCN model, revenue-generating units are responsible for managing their own revenues and expenses.
  5. In Workday, we will have a new accounting system that will bring us closer to the monthly closing of our books. This will bring agility to our operations and financial reporting, providing faster data for decision making.
  6. We are reducing the number of departmental accounts from over 9,000 to approximately 1,000. This will reduce the number of accounts available for postings, thereby tightening our primary focus of having timely and accurate information on financial and human resources.
  7. We will now manage our university-wide operations using cost centers and various job tags, allowing users to tag transactions with tags relevant to their business operations.
  8. In the future, we can move away from the number of unnecessary “transfers” and “recharges” that do not add economic value, but cause a huge amount of “busy work”.
  9. We are bringing our Direct Support Organizations (DSOs) together in a cohesive system that will provide a view of their financial operations that we currently do not have.
  10. We develop centers of excellence and create career paths for people who want to grow and develop in the disciplines.
  11. We are reducing the number of ways to buy and pay for transactions from around 94 to around 15.
  12. We will implement/enhance a formal Talent Acquisition Center within Human Resources that will serve the campus more robustly in recruiting, retaining and managing talent.
  13. We will now have an integrated time reporting system that we can access from anywhere. No more LAPERS or Time Sheets!
  14. We will have an ecosystem for our university that connects systems, policies, practices and procedures. This ecosystem will be governed by standard operating procedures that we currently do not have.

We are fully aware that Knight Vision and its components Workday, Adaptive Planning and our Service Enhancement Transformation (SET) are not panaceas that will solve all the challenges we are currently experiencing with our current PeopleSoft system. However, with teamwork, patience, grace, and focused attention, we will reach the level where many of our peers already are.

The entire kNEXT team, under the leadership of Ms. Kathleen Winningham, is ready – and excited – about the Workday and SET transformation we are embarking on, and we look forward to supporting anyone who needs our help. We are embarking on this new adventure as “One UCF”. We will succeed.

Go knights! Load on!

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