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Finance Division

 

The FTP team has compiled a list of anticipated questions and answers that University employees might have about the programme below. Any further questions can be sent to the FTP mailbox by emailing: ftprogramme@admin.cam.ac.uk and a member of the team will respond as soon as possible.

Q. Are there any opportunities that the FTP will open up to me as a member of the Finance Division?

The programme aims to shape and enhance Finance’s processes and tools of the future and develop a more coherent approach which will improve functionality and enable standardisation where possible.  As a result Finance employees will encounter less duplication of effort, and there will be opportunity to focus on more value-added tasks.  New systems, processes and additional time will also allow for training and personal development. 

The FTP also presents the chance for employees to share their thoughts about the programme and to have a say on the future of Finance.  We therefore welcome ideas and questions. Anyone can get in touch with the programme team viaftprogramme@admin.cam.ac.uk 

Q. What are the benefits of the FTP for me as a user of Finance systems?

The programme aims to create a more coherent approach to Finance and will standardise systems and tools where possible. Therefore as a Finance user, systems will be simpler, clearer and more user-friendly.  

The FTP also presents the chance for employees to share their thoughts about the programme and to have a say on the future of Finance. We therefore welcome ideas and questions. Anyone can get in touch with the programme team via: ftprogramme@admin.cam.ac.uk 

Q. Is the University anticipating that the level of investment into this programme will be significant?

The programme has been initiated in the context of major strategic and investment decisions the University faces with regards to Finance, as over the last decade investment in finance systems has not kept pace with the growth and increasing complexity of the University. The University is aware that it will require significant investment and it is a key objective of the programme to ensure that the University gets full value for money from any investments made. Once interpretation of the Discovery Phase is completed, the University will be in a better position to determine the full costs and resources required to complete the programme. A business case for the full programme will be prepared by the summer this year (2020) for the University to review and approve as appropriate. 

Q. Does the programme present the potential for jobs to be at risk?

The programme has no target to achieve staff reductions. We are finding that levels of finance related work are increasing faster than the University is able to expand employee numbers. Therefore one of the aims of the programme is to boost our capacity by reducing the amount of time spent on lower value tasks and to reduce duplication and frustrations. We want to free-up more time for employees to concentrate on value-added activities and to develop skills further within their roles.

Q. If a new system is brought in to replace CUFS, how will its introduction be undertaken smoothly to ensure University business can still be maintained?

As with any major process or systems change within an organsiation on the scale of the University, there will be a level of disruption. However, regular consultation with employees is embedded within the heart of the programme which is helping to form the basis of the new systems and process design before the changes are made. This will ensure employees are accepting of the developments, we are aware of the impact and can target arising issues.   

Additionally, we will consider timing, communication and additional resources where required to ensure implementation is as smooth as possible and will minimise disruption to day to day working. We will also be open and realistic about the initial demands and pressures, so that departments can plan appropriately and with confidence.

Departments will also be involved as far as possible in the development and testing of new systems in order to increase knowledge levels before their introduction. Where appropriate, in some areas we will look to backfill roles for employees who will be heavily involved in the development of new systems.

 

Q. Our day to day jobs are already extremely busy, how can we still keep up with this demand and also learn a new system?

We accept that there may be initial pressures with the introduction of a new system, however we expect that the improvements will enable everyone to work more efficiently.  We will use methods such as training, communication and additional resources to ensure these benefits are realised as quickly as possible so that they can make a positive difference to day to day workloads.

We will introduce new systems at times that minimise disruption to day to day working. We will also be open and realistic about the initial demands and pressures, so that departments can plan appropriately and with confidence. We intend to involve departments as far as possible in the development and testing of new systems in order to increase knowledge levels before their introduction. Where appropriate, in some areas we will look to backfill roles for staff who will be heavily involved in the development of new systems.

 

Q. I have an idea that will improve Finance’s business processes now, who should I speak to about it?

We are very keen to gain insights from all employees across the University whether they are in a Finance role or simply utilise Finance.  Therefore we welcome any questions, comments or ideas about the FTP via our programme mailbox:  ftprogramme@admin.cam.ac.uk

 

Q. I am aware that transformation of Finance on this scale has been attempted before and not carried forward. How is this time different?

The University has recognised there is a genuine need for a significant change of Finance’s processes and systems in order to align with the growth and increasing complexity of the University over the past ten years.

Additionally, with the support for CUFS expiring at the end of 2021 - which is necessitating us to allocate £1M to either a replacement or software upgrade - we have a clear mandate to make the most of this investment by also improving business functionality and efficiency.

Significant time and investment has already been made into the programme and we have seen huge engagement from a wide range of schools, departments and employees. This is giving us a great deal of valuable insight. As a result of this work, in early in 2020 we will be able to implement some ‘quick wins’ and we will prepare a business case to gain funding approval for the full programme.

Q. With some departments and schools having developed varying financial processes that fit in with their own needs, how can we ensure that the programme is developing something that will be suitable for all?

We do have a huge range of diverse departments, faculties and schools that can follow quite devolved operating models based on their individual characteristics.

One of the main objectives of the Discovery Phase was to understand how departments and schools operate differently through holding workshops and interactive events, and conducting a survey open to all staff. This has helped us to understand a wide variety of requirements, which will in turn help us to develop a system and processes which meet everyone’s needs as much as possible.

As part of our plan to simplify our processes across the University, we are aiming to standardise where possible. This may result in less flexibility than current operating models but will ensure our processes are efficient, more controlled and are universally understood.

Q. We are aware that external consultants were carrying out this initial exploratory work. Could this not have been resourced internally?

The Discovery Phase of the FTP was a major one-off piece of work which the University did not have the capacity to resource internally. We have took the opportunity to choose consultants who possess a high level of expertise in finance transformation in the Higher Education (HE) sector, which will help us gain best practice perspectives from similar institutions. Additionally, we are very keen to get employees’ honest, objective opinions on the future of Finance and we are likely to get a more accurate picture if a third-party organisation is undertaking the interviews and research.

Q. How experienced is PA Consulting in dealing with a large-scale project such as this?

The PA consultants who have worked on the FTP are highly experienced experts that work collaboratively with the core programme team and the wider University staff.  The PA team bring significant finance knowledge, sector expertise and best practice experiences from both the HE and other business sectors. PA has also recently worked with HE institutions including UCL, Durham University, Cardiff University and the University of Nottingham in delivering similar finance transformation programmes.

 

Q. How quickly will we see change?

Good progress is currently being made. The Discovery Phase has now completed and a business case is being prepared for delivery in the summer this year which will include options and recommendations for the direction of the FTP including future systems solutions.

Alongside this, the programme is working to pilot a new expense management system, a review of the University’s strategic procurement has been concluded - resulting in new operating model taking shape - and a new Group Consolidation System has been introduced which is producing our annual accounts for 2018-19.

Many further significant developments are expected in 2020 and beyond. Updated information on the progress of each key project and the programme as a whole is detailed on the FTP website.

CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19
FOR STAFF

Please see our CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 Assistance pages for help with areas of Finance during the current situation.

UFS issued communications and the University website also contain information on this topic

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