Easing the Pain of Salary Funding Changes at UTMB Health

Universities that have a significant amount of grant funding will usually process a high volume of transactions in Oracle’s PeopleSoft HCM Commitment Accounting module either to set up funding for Payroll Expenses and Encumbrances or for Retroactive Salary Funding Transfers. Funding for Payroll expenses and encumbrances is set up in the Department Budget tables in Commitment Accounting and can be set up using multiple levels:

  • Appointment (Emplid/Empl_Rcd)
  • Position
  • Position Pool
  • Job Code
  • Department

Most clients that I have worked with have chosen to use either Appointment or Position consistently, but you can mix it up and use multiple levels. There is also the ability to enter Budgets for all expenses, or you can break out the budget into earnings, deductions and taxes.  What I am getting at is the pages are complicated and can be intimidating for a user – especially those who don’t have occasion to make a lot of funding changes current or retroactive. That is why data entry to these pages is, more often than not, a centralized function.

In the original implementation at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB Health), setup and maintenance of funding was done by a centralized group for each operating area (academics, administration, physical plant, etc.). There wasn’t any Manager Self-Service functionality delivered for the Department Budget pages, and given the complexity of the pages, centralized processing was our best and safest course of action.

In 2012-2013, UTMB Health upgraded their HCM system to version 9.1 and took that opportunity to take a look at some of their business processes. We recognized early on that the departments are the folks that know what funding sources to use for their people. We also recognized that data entry efforts were duplicated when we had these folks entering transactions into a spreadsheet and forwarding the spreadsheets to a central group for entry to the core tables. These processes made the likelihood of mistakes much higher and increased the FTE count required to keep the system updated.

The Project Team decided that decentralizing the data entry and eliminating paper approvals would not only be more efficient but would move the University in the direction it desired. We then designed and implemented Manager Self-Service (MSS) with on-line approvals for Setup and Maintenance of Funding and for making Retroactive Salary Transfers.

There are two MSS pages – one for setup and maintenance of funding in Department Budget (DB) Tables and one for Direct Retroactive salary transfers. DB is accessed via a splash page that was created to give Managers a “one stop shopping” kind of appeal.

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When the Department Budget Request is selected, the user is taken to the following page to select the employee/position to be impacted.

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Notice the as of date – that is used to provide a list of employees as of a certain date, in case a retroactive change needs to be entered and that employee is no longer in the Department Manager’s security access.

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There are lots of edits built in, and some values will automatically default. The workflow was designed to use the approval workflow engine. An example of the workflow is included below.

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The user can make changes that are current or they can make retroactive changes. Current changes will be loaded automatically to the core tables upon final approval. If the change has a retroactive effective date, then the change will be routed to a central group so that a Budget Retro will be triggered.

We also built a page for Direct Retros (when you don’t want to change the employee/position’s funding sources but you need to move an amount of money). This page is accessed from the same splash page as changes to Department Budget tables.

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Users can move amounts or percents for one or multiple pay periods. They can also select the Process Exception check box to move Earnings Only, Fringe Only or a flat amount of Fringe and Earnings. Once the transaction receives final approval, it can be loaded to an existing run control page or a new entry can be created.

Automating these two types of transactions will eliminate the need for spreadsheets or paper and has the approvals in the system where they can be queried or audited.

This has been a very rewarding project with a first rate UTMB Health project team. Join us at Alliance 2014 to get more detail on these exciting customizations. I will be co-presenting a session – “Ease the Pain of Salary Funding Changes” – with Craig Elmore, Assistant Controller, and Debbie Jana, ERP Specialist at UTMB Health, on Tuesday, March 11, at 8:00 am (Session #3343). See you in Vegas!

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