Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Improving finance service delivery through mobile financial processing support team (FIPS), University of Toronto Mississauga
Year Submitted 2019
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
Aisha Sharif Assistant Director, FIPS and Special Projects
Name of Institution University of Toronto at Mississauga
Office Address 3359 Mississauga Road
Annex 204
Mississauga, Ontario L5L1C6
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Telephone: 4164520659
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Christine Capewell
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Executive Director, Financial and Budget Services
Office Address 3359 Mississauga Road
AH 100
Mississauga, Ontario L5L1C6
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Telephone: 905-828-5405
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

UTM is a decentralized environment for finance and each department has its own administrative staff responsible for the financial management of the department. The staff have a reporting relationship directly to the academic head. This model provides departments with control and accountability, but lacks segregation of duties, consistency, and did not give departments access specialized/focused financial expertise. That led to hiring individuals who were not able to efficiently or effectively carry out financial responsibilities. Employees were generalists, staff who had learned “on the job”. We had issues with external and internal compliance in finance, disruption of services due to employees leaves (retirement, maternity, sick or resignation), lack of consistency in processes and productivity. We asked ourselves what would really address this. We need specialized resources, in flexible increments, located at the department - a new unit Financial Information & Processing Support Team (FIPS).

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

Hire specialized resources:
-With strong education and backgrounds specifically for this purpose
-Who understand and embrace providing mobile service
-To a wide variety of operations/personalities/needs
-Train, train, train specifically to provide this support
-Gradually, make the resources available to units that could use them
-Embrace differences between units

Ensure flexibility
-Each unit chooses specifics from a laundry list, so the support is tailored to different needs
-Support requested can be changed
-The assigned staff can be easily changed
-Clarify/communicate expectations
-Scope is financial processing, including filing financial documents
-There are parameters – e.g. not for answering phones, deliveries, etc.


Quality Impact

-Eight FIPS staff is available to the UTM community
-To date FIPS is able to resource all requests (long term and short term)
-Able to consider new requests and fulfill needs in a timely manner
-Improved compliance and processes that are more efficient and more productive
-Individual department are able to decide if they want to take advantage of this service without any cost to the departments
-FIPS receives many requests to cover gaps (temporary assignments)
-Many temporary assignments became permanent arrangements
-Currently 22 departments with permanent arrangements, including academic, administrative and student services
-Sustainable, continuous and consistent services implemented campus wide
-Department’s have begun to embrace and rely heavily on FIPS staff in order to keep day-to-day business operations running smoothly
-Individual departmental needs are clearly recognized, and FIPS staff have successfully catered to these needs
-FIPS staff have become a go-to source of information regarding financial policy and procedures for campus-wide staff, especially those who do not come from a financial background and may need additional guidance/support

Productivity Impact

-Annual cost savings estimated to be approximately $200K
-Reduction in average processing time for payments from 4 to 6 weeks to 1 week.
-Reduced costs and reduced staff numbers to deliver improved services.


-Strengthened internal controls arising from implementation of segregation of duties and a two-signature policy for payment authorization
-Access for all units to the services of a professional accountant for planning and business models.
-Requiring any JD with financial duties to be reviewed by Finance
-And all jobs with financial duties require Finance to be included on hiring committee
-Starting to implement – you cannot proceed without making the changes Finance requires
-Recognizing need to move away from “Frankenstein” job descriptions
-Not settling for a mediocre job description
-Increase financial processing productivity
-Drastically reduce errors and misallocations (which are time consuming and hard to fix)
-Allow Departmental managers to focus on other key areas
-Improve consistency and comparability of financial information inputs and reports