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A New Financial System for UC San Diego

As senior director, internal controls and accounting, I’m responsible for all corporate accounting, financial reporting, internal controls and compliance for UC San Diego. I’m also the project build lead for the Financial Information Systems project (FIS), which basically means I’m responsible for making sure we develop and incorporate sound business, accounting and reporting processes in our new system to meet future needs. I’m really excited about this project. It’s a huge opportunity for UC San Diego that will transform and simplify our business processes and give us much better insights into our financial data, which will help support university leaders.

A Modern, Responsive System

Our current financial management system originated in the early 1990’s and has been customized to meet specific campus needs, sometimes to accommodate necessary but very narrow requirements.  Over many years, these customizations have added significant complexities and have made it overly difficult to maintain.  Any updates or improvements we make to our current systems can potentially affect processes built many years earlier. This requires an extensive investment in code development, testing and maintenance to ensure we don’t unintentionally break vital legacy business processes.

UC San Diego is a nearly $5B institution. An operation this large and complex generates millions of annual transactions. Organizing and making sense of this large and varied set of financial data to meet corporate reporting needs is very difficult. Our current financial systems can’t easily handle mining of complex information and it’s hard to get strategic reports. If you are able to get to data you need, consolidating and organizing the information in meaningful ways for decision making is extremely challenging and time-consuming. A modern financial system will allow us to make quicker use of our financial data for strategic planning and tactical decision making.

Live Data

In our current environment, we don’t have access to data as it’s recorded, or “live” data. Processing occurs overnight or over a weekend before we can see transactions. A new system that makes transactions instantly visible will, among other benefits, streamline month-end and year-end closing.

Simplification and Streamlining

We want to build and share practical and common business practices across campus, where we can. In partnership with departments and operational teams, we aim to leverage best practices gained from the solution’s global clients and streamline our business processes. Before requesting customization, we will carefully evaluate and share these needs across functions to minimize potential duplication and make full use of system features offered “out of the box.”

We will gain a financial system with significantly greater capabilities while at the same time being much more agile and easier to use.

Alignment With New UC Chart of Accounts

In 2012, the UC Office of the President formed a steering group to design and adopt a high-level, common chart of accounts across the UC system. A chart of accounts is the foundation for the logical organization of our financial data and is critical for effective financial management. This confluence of ESR and adoption of a new UC Common Chart of Accounts leverages the benefits both present, decreasing the amount of effort required to map our current data to the UC system.

We are also working closely with our colleagues at UC San Diego Health to align the UC San Diego chart of accounts and adopt this new financial enterprise system. One financial system for all of UC San Diego will have tremendous benefits as we consolidate our financial data for internal reporting and management. 

World-Class System for a World-Class University

We anticipate that our new enterprise financial system, coupled with a newly designed chart of accounts, will greatly increase overall productivity, making our financial operations and reporting more efficient and effective in many ways. The system we choose will keep UC San Diego moving forward as we continue to meet the challenges over the next 20-plus years. I look forward to working with the campus and Health to make these improvements together.

Category: Financial Systems