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UW Finance Transformation

Paused, recalibrated…then full-steam ahead in 2021

December 15, 2021

As we approach the end of 2021, looking back at this time last year  -- December 2020 -- we were all in waiting mode. The COVID-19 vaccine was starting to be administered. We had hopes of resuming leisure travel, reopening businesses and returning to campus. Within UW Finance Transformation (UWFT), the program also took a moment and decided to insert a new stage -- Architect Validation -- into the program timeline. Its purpose was to pause, re-examine the UWFT scope, schedule and budget and revise as needed. The outcome was a series of recommendations to program sponsors, which ultimately received final approval from the Board of Regents.  

As I review the year, there are some key milestones that stand out. 

In February 2021, UWFT established a single program structure and operations to foster further enterprise-wide integration. This restructure resulted in the creation of five pillars of work: Functional, Technical, Organizational Change Management, Enterprise Project Management Office (including Administration) and Enterprise Systems (formerly known as collaboration partners, which includes Enterprise Technology, Finance Readiness Program, Integrated Service Center, Research Administration and UW Medicine). Then, on April 1, I had the privilege of coming on board as executive director, with the goal of establishing unified program leadership and accountability (which was further realigned in May when the program began reporting up to Provost Mark Richards). This closer collaboration has since resulted in the development of a consolidated program plan, pulling from 40 previously individual pillar/workstream project plans.

Also in April, we officially transitioned to the Configure & Prototype (C&P) stage, the fourth stage within UWFT’s Implementation Phase, and continued full-steam ahead with the work in this period to iteratively build, refine and validate the new financial and supply chain processes and systems. In conjunction with the C&P stage, the program launched “quality gates,” a process in which — every two months — the pillars identify key deliverables or “big rocks” that can be measured, tracked and mitigated early. I’m happy to report we closed out the year with an 81% pass rate.

In July, we got the greenlight from sponsors, which was then followed up in September with final approval from the Board of Regents on our revised scope, schedule and budget. The revised scope both expands and clarifies important aspects of the program, including the creation of a financial data repository (FDR) for critical data storage and additional implementation resources that will be critical for the rollout of our new finance infrastructure. It also extends the implementation deadline by a year, to July of 2023, along with a supplemental $71 million in the budget. You can read more about the revised scope, schedule and budget in the July 2021 newsletter

We achieved many more accomplishments this year, some of which are highlighted below with others featured in the UWFT 2021 Annual Report.

•    Closed 210 design decisions
•    Completed Sprints Two – Five, with 1,843 individual test cases passed across all end-to-end process areas 
•    Confirmed 354 systems will be retained and 374 will be retired
•    Conducted 130+ system design support sessions to help stakeholders with their current-to-future state mapping and remediation efforts
•    Loaded 1,491,796 rows of converted data into Workday Tenant 2.0
•    Launched Workday Core Concepts virtual education series
•    Debuted first UWFT Roadshow 
•    Launched Change Agents -- the middle tier of the Change Champion Network 
•    Fielded first of three Change Readiness Assessment surveys 
•    Produced Administrator’s Guide to the Shared Environment
•    Created FDM Translator tool (version 3.2 now available) to decode current-to-future-state financial terms
•    Convened UW Workday Technical Conference
•    Defined 80 Workday and Shared Environment courses for future training

We conclude the year confronting what seems to be a universal challenge: the search for talent to staff our work. We continue to look for skilled work partners to join UWFT and launched our employee referral incentive program to help in those efforts. Thanks to all of you who posted about our positions or referred names to us.

UW President Cauce summed up many of my sentiments in her September blog post, “Throughout this daunting and complicated project, our team of UWFT professionals have set the standard for excellence, despite juggling the demands and constraints of working throughout the pandemic. This includes a number of staff who were hired during the pandemic, who have yet to set foot on campus, but continue to deliver high-quality work that reflects the values we all share. Thank you to everyone who is supporting this vital investment in our University’s long-term future as we continue on our path to completing this important work.” 

I want to give a very enthusiastic thank you to all of you who pressed forward and recalibrated along with us, staying flexible but continually working toward core deliverables in our program strategy. Your dedication and commitment enabled the major accomplishments of this year. Though we’ve faced challenges -- with surely more to come in a program as complex as ours -- I am very proud and grateful to work with such skillful and resilient members of the UWFT program team, our stakeholders and our sponsors. Together we’ve come far this year, and I look forward to 2022 and what we’ll continue to advance together. 

Wishing you and your family a warm and safe holiday season and a very Happy New Year. Sharing time with each other is the greatest gift we can give. (And feel free to adopt my holiday mantra of the “three Rs”: reflection, rest and rejuvenation.)

*Cited data as of 12/14/21

Editor’s note: If you have questions or comments about the UWFT program, send an email to uwftask@uw.edu.

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