FOCUS GROUPS, 7/31-8/1-02

Summary:  8/5/02 PBB rev’d 8/19/02






The UDFS Communications/training team held eight focus groups with campus users of financial information to address the following questions:

1.     What tools do you use?

  1. What do you use these tools for/How do you use these tools?
  2. Why do you use these particular tools?
  3. How did you learn to use the tools?
  4. What barriers were there to using and/or benefiting from the tool(s)
  5. What are your main concerns with learning/using new financial tools?


There were four focus groups for “high-level users,” with a total of 30 participants, and four focus groups for “routine-level users,” with a total of 40 participants.  The participants were identified by Comm Team members.  The “high-level” users were people doing significant analysis, ad-hoc reporting, and/or projections from the financial information.  The “routine-level users” were people doing more routine tasks.


The high-level users focus groups were held on July 31, 2002; the routine level user groups were held on August 1.  The four groups for each day were made up of people from similar units at the university; that is:


In addition to the invited participants, each group had 3-4 members of the communication team attending:  one as a leader, and the others as scribes.



Key Findings


People relied on tools that include data warehouse, UD Check, GA Query, paper statements, shadow data (meaning that people RE-ENTER data that is elsewhere available), complimentary data (meaning people build tables of data that is NOT elsewhere available to them, and use this in conjunction with other financial information), and in a few cases, departmental accounting.


As expected, more-sophisticated users made greater use of data warehouse, complimentary data and UD Check; less-sophisticated users were more likely to rely on paper statements, GA-Query lookups, and shadow data.


Major points brought out in these groups were:




Barriers to using financial information more effectively:

·       Sometimes need increased level of granularity of data, e.g. cash transmittal forms:  multiple cash transmittals show up as one transaction in current system.  This takes hours to disaggregate.

·       Multiple systems (and lack of access to some) mean that people sometimes have to call others for additional information – they are taking someone else’s time; adjusting to someone else’s schedule – they’d like to have access to get that info themselves.  Even when they get the data, sometimes they need to reenter it.

·       Sometimes because they aren’t supposed to see salaries and access can’t be restricted by object code (or object code range).

·       Sometimes because account is under a different MINS code (grants).


Training Dos and Don’ts (Recommendations to our own team):


PR Issues


Notes from all the sessions are attached in the appendix.



Recommendations to Report Team


1.     Extremely important to MANY people to be able to link their own tables to PS tables, for ad-hoc and other reporting.  This may argue in favor of a data warehouse (can users easily link to PS tables any other way?).  [Note:  subsequent discussion in report team indicates that there are other ways that MAY be more cost effective than data warehousing.]

2.     Extremely important to almost as many people to retain key functionality of UD Check:  ability to add data to “live” rows of data.  Data warehousing will also make this possible – tables in “new” data warehouse could be used w/ UD Check as current data warehouse tables are.  Modifications will be needed but it is feasible.  [Again, per subsequent discussion w/ Report Team, different means to retain this functionality will be explored.]

3.     Continue to have views similar to what is in GA Query.

4.     People need ready access to balances.

5.     Address issue of encumbrances – P.O. encumbrances and salary/benefits.  HR no longer encumbers, but could this be built in, as a public query, esp. in light of the labor allocation module?  (That is, salary data is stored for everyone someplace other than in PS HR.  Can we access it to use for a public query?  With the addition of fiscal/academic contract field, it seems so.)

  1. Many will operate more efficiently/effectively if they can download “labeled” information; that is, if the GA Query-type information (with headings telling what is being displayed) could be downloaded to Excel.  This would eliminate a LOT of date re-entry.  This would be an enhancement over what we have now.
  2. Make sure the historical data in the warehouse is retained – many people do historical comparisons.





1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 were “high-level users”

2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 were “routine-level users”


Focus Group 1, subgroup 1

July 31, 1:30-3 PM; Hullihen Board Room


List of Attendees

Linda Flamer (Civil Eng), Malinda Yarnell (CMS), Robin Harbaugh (CDS in CHEP), Deb Nelson (Eng), Jackie Brown (could not attend), Katie Hutton (ANR)


Dave McCarren (leader), Chris Murphy (scribe), Peggy Bottorff (scribe)


What would be ideal?

Click on a person to see how they are actually being paid?  SARs have this capability that could be shared.


What Tools do you Use?


Most use UD Check to check expenditures and real balances and to get information for  JVs, i.e., cut and paste into JV. User-defined fields, e.g. tagging travel for professor X or Y, etc are useful, but there are month-end problems, transactions sometimes are duplicated, and OverHead  is not calculated the way needed for some grants. One Department checks this data for 12 accounts against GA-PRD everyday. For Federal reporting, one must report on every dollar of reporting so UD Check needs to be able to tag multiple dimensions; by project; by federal fiscal year October 1 – September 30, for that federal fiscal year.


Most use GA-Query (GA-PRD) if data warehouse is down or if they want to verify data warehouse data, present report of expenditures, and to do queries.  Most use Electronic Forms, for JVs, S-contracts.


Paper statements are generally used to verify, match up with back-up or just file as reference if needed. There was some impression that paper statements are more complete than on warehouse, GA-PRD.


Departmental Accounting is used by few departments (academic departments with many and varied grants) but those who do, use it heavily to encumber fringe, overhead, large obligations.


For some departments Shadow Systems have been necessary, particularly to track information for grants since they can’t get breakdown of budgets fine enough from UD systems for audit needs. Shrek is Engineering database that pulls information in the college together so they can access departmental information particularly necessary for grants reporting. An example, one has their own accounts in the program and have 5 large subcontractors who use the system broken down by administrative and non-administrative costs. They go through invoices and load into spreadsheet for each agency.  PRO cards are used heavily  – all appear as 498 charges, but they must get the information off paper statements to see if it should be 456 OC and must recategorize all expenses into new categories (user-defined field application). DHSS requires these different categories – what is allowed and what isn’t allowed.


Grants Management system written by OVPR but not maintained (?) is used by some but there is concern that GMS data is not always right. GMS is used for processing proposals and getting data including getting names of P.I.s and long title, a good feature. GMS is available separately or on the data warehouse.  There was request to combine GMS with sea grant program to include financial information, projects by PI. They don’t want to rebuild GMS and add associated DARPA requires information by task. They use UD CHECK to tag items by task.  They don’t want to lose old sea grant information which currently goes back to 1976 or so.


No one in this group is currently using MS Query or Supernatural.  Ag had asked but couldn’t be secured by MINS at a college level so they couldn’t get Supernatural.


What do you use these Tools for/How do you Use Them?

To make decisions based on financial information, some check their Excel spreadsheets monthly against the paper statements. UDCheck may not be up or may not be right (glitchy); encumbrances for salary, fringe and overhead are included in projected balances. One thinks fringes are NOT encumbered on UD Check. She uses both UD-Check and data warehouse, then builds encumbrances in on an excel spreadsheet.  It was noted that DA would be used since encumbrances are calculated but couldn’t  rely on GA at any given time in the month.  One department uses DA to give “balance as of today”  thinking it is more accurate that GA but they are keying in the information.  They estimate PRO card info, reconcile daily,then use paper statements at end of month to verify.  This takes time to load expenditures into their shadow system.  Canned reports in DA broken down by the right things (by agency etc.) would be useful.

For  projecting budgets, most use excel spreadsheets and apply percentages etc.; use past reports; apply burn rate.


Why do you use these Tools?


Most use a combination of tools and their own either shadow system (re-key ) or download GA data and then add departmental data , mainly because they either do not trust just one to get correct and timely data.  Generally they trust GA statements but don’t always trust what they get in UD Check.  Departmental administrators don’t always have access to things that OVPR has e.g. SARs; Engineering built their own system, Shrek, to get that info because OVPR won’t give them access to what OVPR has.  Departmental Accounting system not widely used due to complexity and limitations although those who do


How did you learn to use these Tools?


Some group members attended General Accounting training sessions when GA tools first went on-line.  Most learned from a knowledgeable colleague, some one-on-one, some in college-specific workshops.  All learned most when actually doing, with much trial and error. Some used GA and OVPR websites and printed handouts.  Some took classes in MS Access and Data Warehouse but most important was to have a resource person that is knowledgeable about not only the tools but also the data and the college’s needs to apply the tools effectively.  Those who had a knowledgeable resource person and are technically savvy themselves felt they got what they needed within the reliability constraints of the tools themselves. Those who don’t have such a resource person feel that they do not use the tools to full potential.



What barriers were there to using and/or benefiting from the tool(s)?

Some would like better monthly views from UD Check.  They like DA encumbrance capability. Pay posted one day late e.g. 7/31 pay won’t show up until 8/1.  A problem with the way PRO card charges are post:  Since you can’t ever take a charge on a federal account unless it is appropriate, it should never automatically go to the federal account so it needs to be checked manually now.  There is confusion because you see the 498 on, off and on again (when moved off of 498).  UD Check filters that out and cancels out matching debits and credits.


It was requested  to be able to see object code and how much fringe is charged on it. Also security clearance is a problem now since you can’t give security to departments esp. with SARs – grad students working for other departments.


Another requests that when you type in account code to have title automatically load like electronic JVs do. It would also help to have JVs automatically route (at least copy) to account administrator of every account.


What are your main concerns with learning/using new financial tools?  How would you like to be trained?


Generally, most would like an overview of what is happening, then have a hands-on practice with dummy data that is meaningful to  them to play with.  Everyone likes handouts with reference lists for each process, e.g. how to do a JV.  It should also be on-line so it can be updated and accurate when changes occur.  Self-paced on-line exercises would be valuable. 


How far in front of the implementation would you want to be trained? It would be nice to have CD or on-line that you can re-do whenever you need to.  All want good exposure at least a month ahead of transition so they can plan for it . They need to know how their processing will change. Once they need to use the live data, they need an accessible help reference.





1.2 from Ginger Knutsen

7/31/02 Focus Group Notes – Group 1, Subgroup 2



Attendees:  Nancy Proctor, Cathy Skelley, Dick Albright, Jan Burns, Toni Trainor, Betsy Reigle, Cindy Waksmonski


Team Members Present:  Amy Taylor, Ellen Lepine, Lisa Huber, Ginger Knutsen



What tools do you use?

All group members use GA-PRD, paper statements, paper and electronic forms, and BTA.  All use shadow systems.  Most move data to Excel spreadsheets from MVS, GA, data warehouse, statements or UDCheck.

About half use GMS, two use data warehouse, and one uses UDCheck.

No one uses Block Budget Report or Institutional Research Reports.  No one uses Supernatural.



What do you use these tools for?  How do you use these tools?

All present used these tools for doing ad-hoc reports, projecting budgets, and financial planning. 

Other uses included:

sharing information with supervisors

preparing summary reports for faculty

completing grant/agency reports in different formats

checking budgets and balances

checking that charges appear on correct accounts

Most tools are used daily.



Why do you use these particular tools?

To re-categorize items.

To provide different detail for different people.

To respond to inquiries.

To encumber salaries, overhead, and certain expenses.

For planning purposes.



How did you learn to use the tools?

All group members felt much of what they learned was self-taught.

Most used an informal network of colleagues for support.

Several took Access classes and some worked with Chris Cook for UDCheck training.

Instruction was provided for both MVS and GMS when the programs were first initiated.  However there were never any follow-up classes nor classes for persons new to the university.



What barriers were there to using and/or benefiting from the tools?

The embarrassment of asking for help and admitting ignorance.

Lack of self-help guides on the web or hardcopy.

No regular classes available on using the systems.

Time constraints.

Institutional knowledge not organized and disseminated.

No follow-up training.

The experience with the PeopleSoft HR product will be a barrier in the implementation of PeopleSoft financials.



What are your main concerns with learning/using new financial tools?

No time for new classes in already busy days.

Concern about supervisor support for the time required to learn to use new tools.

The need for more classes ( 1 hour/week for several weeks, rather than 1 half-day class).

The need for access to resources and knowledgeable people.

Lots of help screens, self-tutorials, data dictionary, user groups, and cheat sheets are needed.



Other relevant comments:

Provide training when product is ready to use, not months before.

Train “local” trainers that units can turn to for support.

Provide hardcopy to take back to work site for reference.

Require thorough testing before financial system is released.

Provide well-designed user-friendly screens with pop-up menus wherever possible.

Provide long-term follow-up training.

Participants would like to see samples of the product ahead of time -  sort of mental preparedness.

The suggestion was also made to use Ritchie Holland as a training resource.


PS Financials Comm/Training Focus Group Meeting – Group 3, 7/31/02


Present were:

Bill Fitzpatrick

Ruth Tauber

Sue Koski

Marsha Lockard

Clarie Northam

Chris Cook

 Nancy Allinger

Gail Tentor

 Missy Sarver

Charlene Mylin

Yvonne Simpson


Data warehouse use

Ovpr data for closeouts and sar generation (marsha)

Audit data, specific transaction sets for other units. Can span periods beyond single year.


Learned via access classes.  GA tips sheet and GA done training materials.   Must verify results to insure they’re correct before distributing them.


Gail - does own queries, standard reports, and moves data to Lotus.  Has taught others to use data warehouse. 


Missy uses mostly queries written a while back.  Has taken IT Warehouse course and was pleased with it. 


Sources that are depended on:  Marsha - supernatural for large reports on; high-speed printer as well as sn work that Van programmed.


Paper statements - Nancy uses them as a reminder for tasks that need to be done regularly.


UDCheck - none


Shadow systems defined as something within unit that does accounting where data is reentered. 


Marsha has 3-4 accounts which require detailed analysis for KPMG reports.  


Conferences keeps excel file on cash transmittals to retain records.  New cash system needs to carry more detail.   Event business mgt system is booking/billing system for whole operation. 


Use tools for...

Projecting budgets (Mylin) tracks all accts in IT almost monthly. 


Checking of statements for what?  Transactions from whom, reconcile to data she has (missy).


Dept Accounting - some in IT still reconcile indv transactions to it.


Why, what alternative would you like:

Vs paper statements- ok is alternative provide same or more. 


GA-PRD with a way to id and work with defined periods (quarter, etc) (like Dwarehouse could do but more difficult. 


How will new system be accepted:  hope it's not like HR!!!.

May feel like a few steps backward at first. 


May be important to let people know that financials is a separate web based product. 


Beyond PR issues for PSoft, what is best approach:  Sell what it can do for them.  How it can export data to spreadsheets without rekeying.  Driven by users based on what they have to do. 


In person classes, on-line self paced training, need to address wide span of user needs. 


Biggest concern:  Public Relations!!! 


How long will legacy systems and data available during transition to aid the comfort level during the changeover.


How about overview training and then functional training? 


Some interest in training CD’s or videos being made available for self paced, individual training.


Each unit will need reference people to support their unit.  Make sure trainers and support folks are good communicators, can relay the information and are well versed on the subject.  Allocate sufficient time for trainers to learn their stuff.  Also allocate enough time for new users to learn. 


Don't make promises that you can't keep.


User groups of like users should be encouraged (focused enough to encourage participation).

1.4 from Eileen Prazniak


Meeting Notes


Leader:       Paul Anderson


Scribes:      Eileen Prazniak

                   Steve Grasson

                   Linda Somers


Attendees:  Nancy Potts            Al Fanjoy             Bob Rieman

                   Robin Brown            Dina Giambi                        Doris Miklitz

                   Maggie Ferris            Rachel Strickland            Chuck Shermeyer


Overall Summary:  The group is adept at using the University’s existing tools to perform job functions related to financial reporting.  Most were satisfied with current tools to include data warehouse and MVS.  There were some concerns expressed about PSoft due to the diminished ability to access personnel information in the aggregate from the PSoft HR module.  It was asked whether PSoft client would be directly available to users on the desktop or a University written interface—an important issue for these users due to their need to manipulate aggregate data.  They also reported that the HR web front was slow and cumbersome, ie, nine screens to change an employee JED.  They also didn’t like the way they had to scroll up and down on the web pages to see what they had completed on the form.  Other concerns expressed included anticipated work disruption due to PSoft upgrades; the anticipated changes in the chart of accounts; limitation for joins in tables when using query feature of PSoft; adequacy of hardware/software for desktop utilization; conversion plan, ie, running parallel systems until PSoft was successfully implemented; subsystem interaction with PSoft Financials, ie, contract and grants, accounts payable, purchasing.  The group felt strongly about communication and keeping the end-users involved which was very apparent in the 100% attendance rate of the focus meeting.


1)     What financial information resources do you use (MVS, data warehouse, paper statements, others?)?

The data warehouse was the first resource suggested by the group and the majority uses it.  Quite a few use access reports; one user did not understand what some fields represented; one user did not know what exactly the data warehouse is.


The majority used MVS


The majority of the group used paper statements.


There were only a couple (three) of supernatural users who create their own reports.


There were no UDCheck users in this group.


There was one user of Departmental Accounting system.


All used EZ forms.


Other forms used included BER—Business Expense Report and RFC—Request for Check housed in the Accounts Payable Web Page.



2)     Why do you use these resources?


The data warehouse is preferred because of the historical data available.  The ability to create reports with data that the user can select is key, such as time ranges and object code preferences. 


MVS users were satisfied with the views and the ability to drill down to transaction detail.  One user did not like MVS because of the timing differences between recognition in their system and MVS—this user tied into information in MVS at the beginning of the year and then again and the end.  One user who was not comfortable with the data warehouse would take data from MVS and drop into excel.


Paper statements were used to track transactions.  Another user felt they were cumbersome and used data warehouse to create reports containing the statement data.



3)     How you use them?


What do you do with the information? 

Primarily for ad hoc reporting; budget projection and reconciling purposes were also main uses for the financial reporting tools.


What are the systems with which you interact? 

BTA – Budget Turn Around; Block Budget; Credit Card Reconciling program; SIS -- Student Information System; Shadow systems for reconciling purposes.



4)     How did you learn these resources?

Mainly self-taught after some introductory course and/or material review.



5)     What barriers did you find in using or benefiting from these resources?

The data used in the Microsoft access and supernatural courses is not representative of the University data, therefore it is difficult to apply course concepts.

MVS navigation information for user is not well documented.

There is a lack of information available for using data warehouse.

Self-instruction is time consuming.

Someone reminded us to keep ID system (AT&T – formerly Harco) in mind.


6)     Are there other things that would be helpful to implementing PSoft Financials?

The group reacted to this question most enthusiastically.  All felt that a combination of training aids would be best.  People should be able to use the kind of learning tools that work best for them.  Some suggestions included: 

            Help desk (or e-mail box) for PSoft questions;

Merge IT Help Desk with a PS Financials Help Desk so that a determination could be made if a problem was due to user or a software/hardware glitch.

            Availability of meaningful data in training environments;

            Good documentation for system use, ie, user manuals, reference guides;

            User group meetings (within departments);

            CITA expertise in PSoft;

            Train in the same version that we will use when we go live;

            Help Screens;

            and keep in touch with end users to let them know where project is going.

Group 2.1

Team Leader:  Chris Cook

Scribes:  Anna Bloch and Steve Grasson



Tools Used:





What are you doing with your access?



Why do you use these tools?


How did you learn to use these tools?



What barriers were there to getting that knowledge?



What are your concerns about using the new tool?

Group 2.2

Focus Group 2


Meeting Notes


Leader:            Amy Taylor


Scribes:            Linda Somers

                        Eileen Prazniak

                        Ruth Tauber

                        Dave McCarren


Attendees:              Susan Reeser             Robin Buccos             Dorie Galloway

                        Mary Ann Brown            Marie Perrone                        Joanne Burchard

                        Linda Russell                        Margie Cox                  Cindy Bendler


7)     What financial information tools do you currently use?


All of the members of the group use paper forms and GA Query.

One person has used UD Check on occasion.

One person used Data Warehouse (although they didn’t realize that is what it is called)

Majority of the group use Excel to track encumbrances and use GA Query to reconcile their worksheets and verify the data.

All used EZ forms.

True shadow systems exist; there is manual duplication of data.



8)     What do you use these tools for?  How do you use these tools?


The group uses GA Query to reconcile accounts to their Excel spreadsheets, for data verification, and budget analysis.  They use Excel as an encumbrance system and to verify accuracy of data in GL.


9)     Why do you use these particular tools?


The majority of the group members are responsible for two or three major accounts (containing many transactions) but no more than 30 - 40 accounts in total.  They felt it was faster and easier to use the paper forms, MVS and Excel to track their accounts.  Some felt there was no time to really learn the Data Warehouse. Some did not know there was anything else available other than MVS and GA Query.  Current tools are easily accessible, familiar and uncomplicated; Data Warehouse is not.


10) How did you learn to use these tools?


Many attended UD Classes but felt minimal knowledge was gained.  Majority of learning occurred through personal networks.  Many felt that a personal network of peers is important to learning new systems.  Sequential learning in small blocks of time is important.  Many felt they need time to practice on their own data; not a generic database.


11) What barriers were there to using and/or benefiting from the tools?


Many felt the lack of flexibility in the work rules and the inability to delegate authority in the absence of others creates a huge barrier to effective work flow.


Lack of ability to approve small transactions is a barrier.


In some cases, the lack of education of the approvers (Deans, etc.) on how to use the new system is a barrier. (They don’t want to have to ask support personnel to show them how to approve transactions and in some cases, don’t want to have to go through the process at all)


Different approval rules needed for Deans.  Some Deans are hands on, some are not.  Need the ability to delegate approval if Dean chooses to.


Web front end needs to be simplified.  Forms should be less cumbersome with the ability to tab to the pertinent page rather than scroll through several pages of input.


12) What are your main concerns with learning or using new financial tools?


The group stressed that different people learn in different ways; therefore a variety of learning tools is essential.  Many suggested intense training within a couple of months of the new system (not too far in advance).  Many suggested sequential blocks of learning time.


Printed materials with detailed explanations of codes are important.  One person suggested providing the ability to print information from an updated website.


Many thought an assigned personal network of peers would be helpful.  The same group that trains together could meet regularly to support each other during implementation.


Many stressed a designated “live” person to call for troubleshooting problems.  First person to call for help could be someone within their unit.  However, we would also need a resource person in general accounting (or some other area) for the designated College expert to call for help. General accounting is the department the group felt they would logically call if they needed help.


Prompt responses to help calls are important.  One contact to follow the problem through from beginning to end is important to this group.


            Broadcast messages would be helpful.


Ability to query data is important.  In most cases, query templates would be sufficient for this group.

(LS 8/2/02)
2.3 from Sue Koski

Peoplesoft Communications Team

Focus Group Meeting

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Rm 105 Hullihen


In Attendance:

Patty Barcus

Laura Brown

Rose Gaasbeck

Joan Higgins

Kim Hockett

Sandy Iverson

Kathy Phelps

Jennie Sparks

Mary Pat Urbanik


Committee Members:

Peggy Bottorff

Bill Fitzpatrick

Sue Koski

Ellen Lepine



Tools Used:

Most every participant uses paper statements (for reconciliation purposes); JVs; FARs; GA Query (for look-up/verification of data or account information); Excel (for tracking accounts, re-keying information from paper forms to manipulate data, re-keying to get more specific data for analysis/reconciliation)


Some use the Data Warehouse; Access; SIS; Monthly paper budget reports; or other databases for specific information (ie, Dining information through Blackboard; Parking database, AP Query). Most DW users ran "canned" reports, though General Accounting did some ad hoc reporting.  GA uses Super Natural to request pre-written reports especially at fiscal year end.


One dept. (Residence Life) uses a shadow system to track cost centers that aren't reflected in the budget unit.  They also need greater detail than the object code gives.  


Issues with Tools
Most concerns centered around a lack of detail provided with current tools (particularly for certain object codes and transactions, such as cash transmittals).  Getting more detailed information often requires calling other departments.  It is particularly difficult to get a breakdown of charges from work done by Facilities.


Another concern was with lack of access to GA views, due to security/salary issues.  It was suggested that maybe security by object code could be considered with PS Financials.


Problems with Paper Statements

The main issue with paper statements is the inability by the user to manipulate the data as can be done in a spreadsheet.  Therefore, many of the participants admitted they re-key data into Excel in order to resort, total or calculate the information.  Another issue was that some object codes expenditures are not totaled (e.g., the 400s and 800s) on the account statements and requires manual adding of numbers (sometimes pages of them).



Mostly everyone uses JVs and all were satisfied with the current form, with the exception of the number of lines for transactions as well as the limited space available for explanation.



Most participants admitted they have learned through self-training or trial and error.  Many have taken classes (Excel, Access, DW) and many learn from their co-workers, as well. 

Issues with learning their jobs include lack of time to practice what is learned in class; lack of reference materials at desk for questions; hesitance to call other departments for information or clarification (did not want to bother other colleagues). 


Overall Concerns about PS Financials

Ensure what is "promised" is actually delivered to the end user

Be sure to show campus community what the product will look like prior to going live

Training - train ahead of implementation and if possible, provide a "dummy" database for practice

Train the trainer received favorably


Focus Group 2, subgroup 4

August 31, 1:30-3 PM; Hullihen Board Room


List of Attendees

Kathy Kuck (MBA), Thelma Flewelling (B&E Accounting), Evelyn Knotts (PCS), Lionel Gilibert (International studies), Patricia Lesniczak (Library), Nel Downer (IPA), 

Lisa Huber (Leader), Chris Murphy (Scribe), Paul Anderson (Scribe)


What Tools do you Use?

All used GA-PRD, paper statements, electronic and paper forms. They felt comfortable with these tools since they are easy to use to verify data without extensive training. Some this group do little reporting so budget sheets are what they use for verification of their own data, mostly in Excel. They view data for current month, although to check payroll data they submitted it takes about a week to hit the system.  Purchasing Query is used to check when invoices are paid.  Some do simple reports using data warehouse. None in this group used departmental accounting.


What do you use these Tools for/How do you Use Them?

All need data they can get from MVS to be able to link to data kept by the department. Centrally kept data needs to be able to be linked to department data in more detail in Excel or Quicken, with centrally maintained data downloaded, if they could, or re-keyed. They reorganize the data for reporting needs. User-defined fields feature of UD-Check makes it useful for simple ad-hoc generic queries. Reporting needs include operating budget, grad-allocation, payroll and generally how they spend money in various categories. For reports on account credits some have used UDOnline, then group by section keeping Fiscal-Year-to-Date project for five years, also keep for internal use for s-contracts, travel reports.


Why do you use these Tools?

They need to be able to do aggregate queries, so they need something like the data warehouse.  Contracts and Grants budget in standard format is pulled out of shadow system and numbers are tweaked as needed. GMS, the OVPR system, is used to create budgets and blue sheets for approval. Quicken is used because report needs to be based on categories, not object codes which are too broad and consultants cross major categories. They want user-defined fields, e.g., Verizon – one field but multiple people split. UD-Check does that. Most use purchase reconciliations.


How did you learn to use these Tools?

For most, some one in the college helped them initially and from there they were self-taught. They experimented with new features or someone said ‘this is the screen you need to go to for that’.  Some went to training when something was new but had no follow-up. Some went to Access training but it was overwhelming to them and was generic. They did not mention data warehouse training per se but did say they want to learn using sample data similar to their own so they could relate to it and just what they need to know to get the data verification and reports required in their department without extraneous information that they do not understand how to relate to their responsibilities.


What barriers were there to using and/or benefiting from the tool(s)?

Time and lack of printed materials, either in manuals, handouts or on-line that showed how to do processes were barriers. Ideally these would be easily accessible as would a CITA-type resource person (and backup person) for PeopleSoft Financials who understands their data, their needs and the tools. Training needs to be geared to job, not tool, and preferably in the college. It should be timely, no lag between training and hands-on access to at leased sample data in the office. 


Shadow systems have been needed because data is delayed or the individual is not authorized or cannot otherwise get to the detail which they must do for contracts and grants. One person (Nel) new to a department said that she lost access to her old department data but after two months in new department doesn’t have access to new department data. Unavailability of security by department was an issue for others.


What are your main concerns with learning/using new financial tools?  How would you like to be trained?

Most agreed that they wanted training customized to their needs to be more applicable, in an overview first, then with hands-on and with on-going training built in through follow-up classes, and self-paced online or CD training materials available to review or learn new options. All wanted hand-outs, printed and on-line. All want and need resource person(s) who could be called with a problem and a backup person if that person is unavailable. They want to be able to run parallel until they know that they can get what they need from the new system and available tools. They want to keep budget statements or have the data represented be as clear as in these statements. They want to be able to click on a reference number and to go to the form. Example of problem now, department has a default account and to transfer out of the system took 3 to 4 months, TUC has it’s own JV numbers.  Journal vouchers should copy person who generated the charge since sometimes do not know, as with purchase card someone could have keyed incorrectly. Help screens, self-paced tutorials and on-going follow-up is important as is training the trainer, a key person in each department (with backup) is essential.


Would be nice to have EZ-forms Request for Check, IVR’s, and the original backup in departments to be scanned and available on-line.