October 17, 2023
Workday Finance Research Impacts & Updates
The following update was sent via email from Mari Ostendorf, Vice Provost for Research, on Friday, October 13, to Principal Investigators.
Because of the scale and complexity of UW’s research enterprise, we expected that problems would arise in the transition to Workday Finance. After three months of hard work to address reported problems, our research enterprise continues to face many challenges. I am reaching out to you to assure you that the Office of Research is aware of the issues, to reassure you that progress is being made, and to let you know how to report or escalate problems and how people can contribute to expediting progress.
We recognize that there are critical capabilities for research that are not fully functional, and that the workarounds associated with meeting critical needs are creating unanticipated extra work centrally, in the Shared Environments, at the department level, and for individual PIs. We know that existing training and documentation is lacking, and that it can be hard to get meaningful data reports from Workday. We are concerned about the potential for unanticipated costs, lost opportunities, audit risks and compliance violations. I have confidence that the problems will be addressed, but progress has been slower than desired because of the interdependence of the many different financial processes and the complexity of the UW research enterprise. While the slow progress in some areas is frustrating, please know that UWFT team members and central units have been working long hours to bring the system to its intended functionality, and the increasing backlog is starting to stabilize.
As you may know, in October UWFT moved from Hypercare to Extended Transition Support (ETS). This means that resources are more targeted to the areas of greatest need (particularly those related to research) and that an overall lead position has been established to ensure that cross-functional dependencies are considered. In addition, a new team has been created that will provide enterprise Finance Support, including addressing gaps in documentation and training and stabilizing the new Shared Environments. I have confidence in the team, and I am optimistic about the potential for progress. The Office of Research is also actively working with partners in IT, Finance, and the ETS team to help with prioritizing issues and finding good solutions.
When you encounter problems, please start by working with your department staff to report them using the UW Connect Finance Portal. At the top of the page there are links to Workday, a “get help” link that goes to a generic request form, and a link to all your UW Connect tickets. The problem reports will go to your School/College Shared Environment — they know best where to forward tickets if they can’t help directly. Next steps for the most frequent concerns include:
- Check in your unit to make sure that there are no approvals pending (e.g. for invoices) or corrections needed in award setup and modification requests
- Urgent Requests | Grant & Contract Accounting (uw.edu)
- OSP Subaward Escalation Process
If delays continue, or for other pressing matters, please elevate them to your School or College Senior Research Administrators, and they will escalate the top priorities to Mandy Morneault, Chief Operating Officer in the Office of Research. She is helping coordinate information across schools and colleges to inform ETS priorities and to find cases that facilitate problem solving. A common concern raised by faculty and staff is that processes are unclear or time-consuming. Many people across campus have taken the initiative to create their own documentation and shortcuts. Please share these efforts with Mandy. She and others in the Office of Research will work with the Finance Support team to make helpful materials available university wide.
Finally, I want to thank our dedicated staff across the university who have been working tirelessly to support this transition. Staff in the departments and colleges have been key partners in identifying problems and elevating those for remediation. They are putting in extra hours to deal with issues and sometimes bearing the brunt of frustration with FT delays. I encourage you to express your appreciation for their efforts and show them grace.
I appreciate your forbearance through this difficult period. Please know that people are working very hard to get to a fully functional implementation, and the extra workload people are currently shouldering will decrease. Your efforts to provide detailed information about problems and support university-wide coordination will help.
Vice Provost for Research