Year in Review Infographic

Over the past two years, Financial Management Services (FMS) has been sharing updates to action plans stemming from the 2018 Client Satisfaction Survey. Progress has continued on many of the plans; and has been aligned to the organization's mission, vision and guiding themes.

Year in Review, Action Plan Updates and Next Steps

FMS summarized just some of the highlights of the 2019-2020 year in the Year in Review infographic. From streamlining the financial ecosystem, maintaining and enhancing the financial infrastructure and taking big, bold steps together, the graphic represents some of the results driven by feedback from the faculty and staff who use our programs and services.

FMS worked closely with clients to advance excellent solutions for efficiently managing the financial ecosystem while also maintaining the highest standards of compliance. FMS is continuously improving its products and services. Below are just a few examples of projects and initiatives that are driven by the survey feedback.

The conversation between FMS and the financial management community at Stanford will continue in 2020 through its many projects and initiatives. The next Client Satisfaction survey, targeted for 2021, will be an opportunity to measure against the results of previous surveys, understand the user experience with new products and services, and gauge overall how the organization is serving the university. Stay tuned for more information about the next survey.

If you have questions about this article, please contact @email.


Driven by priority feedback received through the 2018 Client Satisfaction Survey, the new Fingate website became much easier to use on September 1 with the launch of its first major redesign since 2007. The new, modern site features improved navigation and search capability, and is designed to be easily accessed from both laptops and mobile devices. The redesigned site also integrates content from the Office of the Treasurer and the University Budget Office websites, so that all financial content is available on a single website. Learn more on the Fingate redesign news announcement.

Following the roll out of updates in May 2019 to policies, guidelines, resources and associated system functionality, FMS has focused efforts on a project around continuous monitoring and improvement of those changes to support sound financial stewardship of university resources.

Key goals of this phase include:

  • Utilize a risk monitoring tool to focus Business Expense team resources on monitoring highest risk activity and reduce time spent on low-risk transactions.
  • Provide reporting dashboards to users to help them monitor their own business activity.
  • Make continued improvements to policies, processes, tools and resources that are informed by the needs of users.

Risk Monitoring Tool

In summer of 2019, a tool was implemented that uses a risk-based approach to scan business expense reimbursement transactions and flag them to the team in order of risk. The lowest risk transactions are automatically approved by the tool and reviewed afterward using a sample-based approach. This in addition to the Business Expense Policy updates, has resulted in the turnaround time for processing a request to be cut in half.

Reporting Dashboards

In spring 2020, the team will pilot updates to the Expense Request Efficacy (ERE) Dashboard with existing ERE users, which provide the ability to monitor key activity and stats across an organization. The reports assist with identifying bottlenecks and opportunities for training and other improvements. The reports will feature two new tabs to show activity by person and identify areas where policies may need to be reviewed or explained and an escalation tab to alert management to trends requiring extra attention and any compliance issues that need to be addressed to increase efficiency.

Continuous Improvements

The team uses data from support requests and client feedback to identify and drive improvements. Examples of these improvements include an updated Business & Travel Expense Desk Guide, which features at-a-glance information on key business expense and travel policies, and a local restaurant pricing resource that provides estimated costs of local options for business meals and updated web content such as clearer guidance for documenting a business meal attendee list.

The Business Expense and Stanford Travel teams continue to engage with users to understand where continued improvements can be made. After piloting virtual office hours through the summer that were very widely attended, more of these events are being added to the schedule. Future events will be posted to the Stanford Travel page.

When Procurement Services rolled out the Finally Close Feature in February, users responded with great enthusiasm and curiosity. They were more than ready to do some spring cleaning on their POs. During the first two weeks since go-live, staff permanently closed over 1,400 inactive POs; resulting in the release of over $1.8 million dollars in commitments.

Having this self-service feature is a big win for all users since it reduces the administrative burden around relieving commitments using manual processes, and inconsistencies in reporting. The project team worked closely with focus group members across the university to ensure the feature was easy to use and the process was simple to understand.

The Finally Close project engaged end users in designing and testing new features, tools and processes over eight months to ensure the final product would meet users’ needs. This feature is part of the PO Life Cycle Management strategic initiative, a larger effort to streamline the PO process. This initiative is a result of feedback Procurement Services received from the FMS Client Satisfaction Survey. The project team plans to engage another focus group for additional new features in the coming year. Visit the Finally Close a PO Feature announcement to learn more.

Cardinal Print, Stanford’s new managed print program, is changing how people think about printing at Stanford. Cardinal Print makes printing, copying and scanning more secure, sustainable and efficient by replacing resource-intensive personal printers with shared multifunction devices (MFDs).

Reducing the Number of Print Devices

Across Stanford, the program has significantly reduced the use of personal printers and the number of print devices. At the Stanford Redwood City (SRWC) campus, the printer-to-person ratio decreased from 1:8 to 1:34, and the number of total printers in use decreased from approximately 282 to 68 shared MFDs. At the historic campus, groups that have joined Cardinal Print now have an average printer-to-person ratio of 1:27.

Achieving Success Together

The program first rolled out across buildings at the SRWC campus in 2019, and is now being implemented at the historic Stanford campus with great success. Within the last 10 months, the Cardinal Print team has completed five implementations, including:

  • Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation (DAPER)
  • Land, Buildings, & Real Estate (LBRE)
  • Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE)
  • ChEM-H /Neuro research complex
  • BioMedical Innovations (BMI) building

The team has a robust pipeline of implementations planned or underway for 2020, including Graduate School of Education (GSE) at Galvez, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Humanities and Sciences (H&S) Dean's Office.

Helping Users Make the Transition

The program provides departments with far more than just new print devices. In post-implementation client surveys, new Cardinal Print users have praised the easy transition into the program thanks to substantial change management support before and after the devices arrive. Change readiness toolkits and onsite, hands-on training and help from the vendor, Canon Solutions America make it easy for the departments to smoothly transition their teams to Cardinal Print.

New users also appreciate the reliability and print-anywhere convenience of the devices. Additionally, since Canon maintains and provides supplies for all the devices, department IT and administrative staff no longer have to worry about print-related tasks such as monitoring paper supplies, ordering toner, and maintaining devices.

The program, partnership between FMS and University IT, is also a Business Affairs Strategic Initiative with the goal of improving workflow efficiency, reducing security risks, enhancing end-user experience, reducing total cost of ownership (including expenses for equipment, consumables, maintenance and energy), and achieving long-term sustainability goals. Canon Solutions America’s Global Managed Services is the preferred supplier of these managed print services.

To learn more about why Cardinal Print is Stanford's recommended solution, visit the Cardinal Print Program web page.

FMS has launched an initiative to implement a new Vendor Management system called the Supplier and Payee Registry that will yield several benefits to users, including better service around maintenance and updating of supplier data. This new system allows suppliers to directly update and maintain their own information securely – without the need to work through a university contact. FMS is currently using the system to onboard new domestic suppliers while transitioning certain existing suppliers into the Supplier and Payee Registry, which will also include some clean-up of out-of-date, redundant, or incomplete vendor records.

In the meantime, an enhancement in early 2020 to the existing Supplier Query and Request page in Oracle Financials now allows users to directly make changes to the information about a registered supplier, rather than having to submit a support request.

All of these efforts are a part of the Vendor Management Transformation project, which aims to improve the services and processes related to doing business with suppliers while maintaining the highest standards of compliance for the university.

As previously announced, FMS proposed and was granted approval for a project to build a new front end (user interface) for Labor Schedules, which will vastly improve the user experience. This new application will allow users to manage their Labor Schedules more efficiently with added functionality. Examples of this include the ability to create distinct Labor Schedules for different types of earnings, copying labor schedules from one employee to another and performing mass updates.

FMS has completed gathering business requirements for the new front end and is partnering with University IT to start development in the coming months. A timeline will be completed soon for the remaining phases of the project, including development, testing and change management. Completion of the new front end is tentatively slated for late 2020. Learn more about this effort on the project news page.

Operational Improvements

Credit Card Merchant Services (CCMS) continues to develop a variety of services available to the university to ensure responsible payment processing. Recently, the team piloted Eventbrite, which helps departments manage events. It was a major success as twenty departments have already been onboarded by CCMS. Keep an eye out for more information on the partnership with Eventbrite in the future. Currently, users can view Eventbrite's training videos to learn more about utilizing the tool.

The CCMS team has also enhanced the standard merchant services support request forms through the Stanford Service & Support portal, streamlining the account management process for all Stanford merchants.

CCMS publishes a quarterly newsletter to share information about payment card industry trends, card processing best practices, and new payment solutions available to assist university merchants. To learn more, staff may subscribe to the newsletter and view past issues on the Office of the Treasurer web site.

Looking Forward

To build on the success and momentum of the 2017-2018 initial Merchant Services Discovery project, CCMS is launching a second phase of the Discovery. This phase will have a more external focus, investigating emerging industry trends, benchmarking Stanford against peers, comparing our existing vendor relationships to best-in-class industry leaders, and exploring the Financial Technology (FinTech) landscape. The information gathered will drive a strategy and supporting roadmap aimed at leading the university’s merchant program into the future, with the desired outcome being to address service needs, reduce compliance burdens and adjust program costs.

FMS had previously received approval to implement functional enhancements to Authority Manager to make the process of granting and revoking authority more efficient. These enhancements include allowing users the ability to "request" the granting and revoking of a privilege or privileges, reducing the confusion around who can grant or revoke, and eliminating the possibility of encountering a "dead end."

FMS has been gathering business requirements for the updates and enhancements to Authority Manager, and will be holding focus groups with users in the coming months. Once the business requirements gathering is complete, a timeline will be established for the remaining phases of the project, including development, testing, and implementation.

Global Business Services (GBS) collaborates with faculty and administrative staff to deliver business solutions that safeguard, enable, and accelerate international programs, projects, and initiatives.

Conducting work in a foreign country may have significant implications to Stanford and project personnel. The project location, scale and duration can have potential legal, tax, employment, and regulatory implications, some of which can impact the cost of a project and delay initiation of the work.

The GBS Advisory team assists faculty and staff to navigate these potential implications on their international projects. The team provides advisory services on a broad range of business and operational issues, which includes paying for services, goods, and personnel, visas, time in country, and potential tax implications of international activity. The team also facilitates cross-central office navigation and collaboration to support the global activity, such as coordination with Global Human Resources, Office of General Counsel or other central resources as required.

GBS plans to continue to participate in forums and resource fairs that focus on conducting international activities to raise awareness of their services. GBS also partners closely with school Dean's Offices, and is available to meet with or present to school or department groups.

The Contracts Life Cycle Management (CLM) project will unify the end-to-end contracts process to make it easier, faster and provide better visibility of the process for users. Procurement Services staff are working closely with user groups to identify ways they can improve consistency, control and performance of the contracting process. Learn more about this project on the CLM Project page.

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