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New Budget Development System will update UCOP’s process

Are you one of the 200 or so UCOP employees who are involved in the annual budgeting process?

Whether you work on division budgets, program budgets, department budgets, account budgets or any other kind of budget, your life is about to get easier, thanks to UCOP’s new Budget Development System (BDS).

Budget Office staff and prospective users who have been testing and developing the system say it will replace UCOP’s inconsistent, time-consuming and maddeningly manual process with a standardized system across the entire organization.

“The Budget Development System will change the way budgeting is done at UCOP,” says Michael Reese, associate vice president for Business Operations. “It will allow us to see how we are doing quarter to quarter and, for the first time, departments will have on their own desktops the information they need to strategically and efficiently manage their budgets.”

The system, in the works for the past year, is now moving into its implementation phase, with demos in early October and training sessions from November through mid-December for UCOP users. The goal is to have a fully operational system ready for use in developing the FY 2012-13 budget.

The UCOP budget tool

The foundation for the new system is Cognos TM1, a web-based budget and planning software developed by IBM that will serve as the UCOP budgeting tool to provide a common platform for staff to plan and develop their annual operating budgets.

“The software tool is just one part of the BDS,” says Interim Budget Director Donna Jones. “The system also incorporates new procedures, written guidelines and best practices, a new workflow and detailed roles and responsibilities around budget development.”

Over the past year, Jones has been developing the system with Maria Anguiano, CFO associate director and BDS project director, and Robert Judd, project lead on Karla Campbell’s team in the Office of Strategic Change Resources. They assembled a 34-person team of “super-users” from UCOP departments, the Budget Office and software manufacturer IBM.

“Maria Anguiano was the lynchpin for this effort,” Reese says. “She brought drive, energy and sensitivity to a very complicated and technical process.”

Ultimately, Reese adds, the BDS will create a new culture at UCOP, driving a more strategic approach to budgeting rather than requiring staff to spend time cramming numbers into spreadsheets.

But for now, the work has focused on functionality, including designing standardized templates for UCOP’s budget, which is fraught with complexities like multiple classifications of employees, temporary and permanent expenditure categories and new funding streams. The team has also been testing the application, designing reports and documenting the new budget development guidelines.

How will it work?

Interactive and dynamic, the new software tool allows all levels of management to be engaged in developing the budget. The software has a familiar Excel-like interface and templates for data entry. Each budget contributor sees and populates his or her own fields, and managers can see views of the budget’s current status.

All departments will build their budgets using the same format and process at the detail level, facilitating rollups to management. Advanced reporting capabilities allow analysis and comparison of prior, current and future year budgets with actual expenses at any level of detail and allow you to “slice and dice” the data to provide meaningful information.

“Multiple users at different levels of management can obtain information about what’s happening at whatever level of detail they need,” Jones says. “The system allows department staff to control and manage their own funds, so we won’t have to micromanage units.”

In future years, Jones says, the goal is to add enhanced functions to the software, like multiyear budgeting and online budget reconciliation, further empowering the system to support budget monitoring and forecasting.

The budget development process for FY 2012-13 will begin with the BDS team extracting, translating and loading all FY 2011-12 budget and actuals into the new system. Department users will then enter their FY 2012-13 proposed budget information. Data will automatically roll up from all departments for review; this added transparency could eliminate the cumbersome preapproval process, saving time and ensuring accountability.

“This will be a tremendous time saver for me and the departments,” says Patti Mizuiri, associate director of Academic Affairs and one of the BDS super-users. “Aggregating complex department or division level budget data used to take up to two weeks; now all we’ll have to do is push a button.”

Potential users of the new budgeting system will receive an invitation to register for the training sessions, which will take place in the Franklin 7th floor Computer Training Room and be conducted by Pei-Ru Chao, BDS administrator. All staff are invited to attend the public demos, also conducted by Chao, in Franklin Lobby One Conference Room on the following dates:

  • Friday, Oct. 7, 12 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 10, 12 to 1:30 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 24, 9:30 to 11 a.m.

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