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Friday, July 26, 2013

HRMS upgrade lays foundation for the future with collaboration sessions

For the past year, nearly every document summarizing the HRMS upgrade project has included some version of the following language: re-implementing core HR data functions especially regarding appointment data and job designations. Last week, a cross-functional group of HR, finance, and reporting stakeholders took a closer look at what that means.

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On July 17, the HRMS upgrade project team held a collaboration session with the HRMS functional steering committee and members of the finance and reporting communities to discuss issues concerning the University’s appointment data, which is being restructured as a part of the upgrade. The redesign of human resource business processes as part of the HRMS upgrade project provides the University with a prime opportunity to simplify its appointment data, create a clearer definition of our organizational structure, increase functionality, and improve data quality and reporting.

“We needed to tackle the data issues up front, because getting this right enables us to really transform how we do HR work at the University,” said Lori Lamb, director of HR Operations. “This work is foundational to everything else we hope to accomplish with this upgrade.”

Deeply ingrained in the data and related processes, however, are important issues regarding how the University tracks tenure and manages contract pay, enters without-salary appointments for non-employees who have a special affiliation with the University, processes student refunds, and uses multiple appointments, particularly for individuals with both academic and administrative duties.

This last issue is a big one. Currently 333 people across the University’s five campuses, from chancellors and deans to chairs, department heads and directors, hold some combination of academic and administrative appointments. Admittedly, it’s only a little more than one percent of the University’s workforce, but it’s a crucial one percent: the various ways of recording these multiple appointments make accurate reporting of administrative counts and costs difficult.

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The collaboration session enabled the HR, finance, and reporting stakeholders to talk through this issue together at their tables and as a large group. According to facilitators, the session underscored the need for multiple appointments in certain circumstances, the understanding that no single solution would completely satisfy all parties, and the recognition among participants that the University needs a single set of consistent guidelines on when and how multiple appointments should be applied -- an approach that has also received support from University leaders.

“I thought the result was very positive,” said Lamb. “I think people came away ready to make a change, and we can move forward with developing a recommendation based on their input.”

A day later the HRMS and Finance functional steering committees held a joint meeting to discuss the implementation strategy for payroll accounting, which impacts both the HRMS and Finance work streams. The response to this meeting was similarly positive. Finance functional steering committee chair Rob Super, who also serves on the HRMS functional steering committee, said he’s never been more optimistic about the success of a project in his 20 years working on University-wide projects.

“The spirit of teamwork and collegiality with central and end users on this project is unprecedented in my experience,” said Super. “We are dealing with really fundamental issues proactively and together. In the process, we have begun to break down two sets of silos -- those between functional areas, like finance and HR, and those between central units and end users.”

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