Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Finance Support Program
Year Submitted 2018
Awarded First Prize
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
Ray McNichol Program Director, Finance Support Program
Name of Institution The University of British Columbia
Office Address 2178 - 2207 Main Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4
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Telephone: 6048229868
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Ian Burgress
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Comptroller
Office Address 1958 Main Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z2
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Telephone: 604-822-3031
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

Our finance support program really is all about support.  Support to department heads to ensure that they receive consistent, relevant information to base their decisions on.  Support in navigating the administrative tasks which are key to the smooth operation of their department.

To achieve our support objectives we provided comprehensive training and resources to key individuals, such as departmental administrators and finance personnel.  To determine which specialized resources were required for each department we pulled together several cross departmental teams to develop an on-line, self-paced training program to explain key processes and to provide guidance on best practices. 

A total of ten modules were developed and are now available, covering these necessary areas:  Procurement, Accounts Payable, Budgeting/Forecasting, Internal Reporting, Planning, External Reporting, Inventory/Capital, Facilities, Revenue and Payroll & Positions.  Each module consists of up to four short videos (less than 10 minutes each) which explain the process and highlight issues to consider and avoid.  Links to relevant policies and additional resources are also included.  Self-test questions are used to help the user assess their understanding of the material.  The user friendly MOOCS training platform, Edx, hosts the program, which is a first for internal training at UBC.

Over the past year in excess of 155 individuals have taken all or parts of the training.  Feedback from new and experienced staff has been extremely positive, with ongoing comments of appreciation for the support that this program is providing.  With over 600 unique training views, hundreds of in-person training hours have been saved and by having the resources on-line, individuals have the flexibility to take or repeat the training as needed. 

Our comprehensive finance support program provides a solid foundation for decision making, space administration and transaction processing.  Users comment that their work quality and productivity has improved because there is less frustration and confusion regarding how things should be done.  The result has been improved administrative support given to a department and their head.

To review the ‘Facilities’ module, click https://edge.edx.org/courses/course-v1:UBC+FSP09+2016W1/info.  You will need to create a free Edx account, then review the Home and Course tabs. 

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

The key administrative tasks that have been identified and documented at UBC have universal importance at any institution.  The template of a voiceover PowerPoint, with annimation, self test questions, links to important policies/procedures and to more detailed reference material, has proven to be an excellent way to communicate the material in an understandable way.  Work at another institution would have to be done to define what their processes and best practices are for each topic area, but this program has proven that the time spent on this has great benefit to all units involved.  A high level summary of this program was delivered at the W3 conference in September 2017 and many institutions expressed interest in it.

Quality Impact

Our rationale for the project was that by training the individuals in the departments well, everything flowing up to the Dean's Office and to Central would be of a better quality, with fewer errors.  Over the past 15 months the training modules have also been used as a resource to direct individuals to who have shown to have problems with a particular topic or process.  For new people, and for those who don't do a task often, the modules have also proven to be an effective way to create a holistic understanding of the process and what the key considerations are for that particular task.  The end result, although hard to measure, has been employees who feel more supported and less frustrated in figuring out the key aspects of their responsibilities.  The program goes a long ways to setting the departmental employees up for success in their role as an administrator or departmental finance professional.  Many notes of thanks for the program have been received.

Productivity Impact

Over the past 15 months new individuals have been able to learn about processes and systems as soon as they come across the issue.  As it is on-line there is no need to wait to register for a course, which is often only offered a few times a year.  Also, with over 155 unique individuals accessing the system, the modules have been viewed in excess of 600 times.  This has saved hundreds of hours of in-person training time and effort.  With the ability to stop, rewind, slow down, speed up and rewatch the videos, users can learn at their own rate, which ultimately increases their productivity when approaching a task.


Never before at UBC had a comprehensive approach to supporting administrators and financal personnel in departments been undertaken.  The Finance Support Program is not about 'systems' training, but rather is more focused on understanding the overall process, and where applicable, what needs to be done to get something ready to be entered into 'the system' and then what to do with the information coming out of that system.  Training on how to use various systems had already been covered by existing programs, so the Finance Support Program was designed to fill in the gaps.  We also used the software Edx, which is used for MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) for the internal training platform, a first at UBC.  This is a user friendly platform, which is readily accessable by all personnel, once you have the course link. 

Supporting Documents FSP-Summary-2018.pdf