Finance workstream

The finance functional review will define the people, processes, and technologies required to implement the new finance operating model across the university. Throughout administrative restructuring and transitioning, three goals remain at the centre of our efforts:

  • Enhance service culture: To be a stakeholder service orientated organization by fostering collaborative partnerships and being responsive to the needs of the university.
  • Improve service quality: To provide relevant stakeholders with clear data and performance measurement on the financial direction of the university in order to empower responsible decision making.
  • Cost-effective service delivery: To effectively steward finances and strengthen the financial position of the university in order to maximize productivity and efficiency.​

Latest update

Service catalogue

Developed in consultation with staff from across the university, service catalogues provide a list of activities and services in a particular functional portfolio and determine where those services would be best placed within the model. For more information on the intent of the catalogues and how they were developed, please read this article.

Finance Service Catalogue

Finance stream approach

The finance stream is divided into three phases: discover, prepare and transition. The purpose of the finance discovery is to identify what finance processes and staff activities are being done at the faculty/unit level. The process review phase will identify the processes that will be prioritized and moved forward to support the new organizational structure. The final phase will develop and implement transition plans to shift finance into the new operating model.

Finance is currently working on the discovery process, and will be entering the prepare phase in February 2021. (Please note, we are aware of current fiscal year end activities, and no significant changes are planned during this time.)

We have prepared a short presentation that offers more detail on the operating model for Finance Procurement & Planning.


Career opportunities

The SET team has created an online resource which lists upcoming positions that are planned as part of the new administrative operating model. Once a position has been finalized and the competition launched, you can apply to it on the careers page.


The Finance Stream consists of the following project team members:

  • Martin Coutts — Associate VP (Finance, Procurement & Planning) — Executive Sponsor, Initiative Lead
  • Brenda Hemmelgarn — Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry — Executive Sponsor
  • Tobie Smith — Project Manager
  • Tim Abram — Business Analyst
  • Caitlin Beauchamp  — Business Analyst
  • Stacey Brennan — HR Specialist
  • Sara Horseman  — Financial Analyst
  • Kazim Hussain — Organizational Design
  • Amber Holder — Change Management Specialist
  • Wilbur D'Mello —  SET Program Coordinator

Consultation and engagement events

  • January 12, 2021: Finance Management Committee Presentation
  • January 15 & 18, 2021: Discovery Workbook How-To Sessions
  • January 22, 25, 26 & 27, 2021: Discovery workbook drop in sessions
  • February 1, 2021: Ask SET Anything: Finance Edition
  • March 9, 2021: Finance Management Committee project update
  • April 8: SET Steering Committee Presentation
  • April/May: Payment Services workgroups activity
  • May: Procurement Support workgroups activity
Be sure to check the UAT consultation page for upcoming events.

Frequently asked questions

Who is leading the Transaction Processing Hub?

The Transaction Processing HUB Stream is working on the organizational structure for that area. As part of that new structure, an Associate Vice President for Shared Services will be responsible for leading the Transaction Processing Hub.

Finance will have a director as well as manager roles in the Transaction Processing HUB, who will oversee the finance staff and activities.

How will service partners be hired? Will the positions be posted or by appointment?

At this time, we are still determining the timing of posting and moving positions to ensure everyone has opportunities to apply for positions that they are qualified for, or have interest in. We are currently working on creating more generic job families to work from in the future. This way we can standardize roles, and each time a position needs to be created, it does not have to be from scratch and individualized.

We are in discussions with NASA and AASUA about this and hope to post Expressions of Interest (EOI) on the general career board (currently, they are held within a department, faculty, or unit, which restricts them to that particular area) so everyone has better visibility.

Can you provide an example of what constitutes a finance service partner?
Currently, there are a number of senior financial officers that work directly for a faculty or portfolio. Using this situation as an example, under the new model, financial services will be provided at the institutional level, as opposed to the faculty or portfolio level. This is coordinated through the finance partner teams. In this case, senior financial officers would be great candidates for finance service partner roles, reporting back into the central team, but being embedded and serving their clients in the colleges, faculties, units, or portfolios, etc.
How are SET changes going to affect central units like financial services. Will offices be split into other areas?

The organizational structures within HR, IT, Finance, Procurement, Planning, Performance Analytics, Institution Research, Internal Audit, and Risk Management, is waiting approval. What is currently considered financial services will very likely look different, if for no other reason than there will be more transactional work that moves into the Transaction Processing HUB.

The design criteria for the SET program were also taken into consideration when building the new organizational structures. This includes more efficient and leaner processes, reduction in role duplication and enabling collaboration across the university.
With the centralization of finance resources, what steps are being taken to ensure that departments will receive communication and service in a timely manner?
An important next step in our transition plan is understanding what the processes are, as well as identifying potential risks, and working closely with service partners to complete the work that needs to be done within the departments and academic units. Some finance activities will remain somewhat within the department to be carried out by a finance service partner. Based on experiences with similar shared services models, a department chair, for example, will work closely with their finance service partner so the partner understands exactly what is needed in the department. Establishing these strong working relationships will ensure communication is two-way and fluid, so that service is provided efficiently. We will be prioritizing finance functions with the staff that are closest to these processes in order to develop solutions that will work.
Can you clarify where the reconciliation and documentation for research projects will lie within the new operating model? Will it remain a finance function, or will the responsibility fall onto the research project or the Project Investigator (PI)?
Research finance administration is an area that’s still under exploration and discussion. As we explore and redesign these processes, we want to ensure that where these functions lie will be whatever makes the most logical sense for the process. One of the pieces we want to look at in our research administration centre of expertise or transaction hub is where the project management work needs to occur to be most effective.
How do you plan to independently review the financial control systems throughout the redesign process?
As we work through the functional review and redesign finance business processes, we are making sure to be cognizant of the key financial controls and what ones might be changing, or require review. We have extensive documentation on our current financial controls including financial control matrices for all of our key business processes across the institution. Each of those financial matrices will be reviewed to verify that the appropriate financial controls are still in place, and if there has been something that's changed, ensuring that we've adequately addressed that with alternate or compensating controls. We have a variety of resources, including a manager of financial controls and processes, independent internal audit function to consult with, and domain SMEs to review proposed changes to help ensure that we are consciously considering our controls through the redesign process.
There has been indication that direct transfers from the faculties to central units will occur where administrative roles within the new model are the same, or are substantially similar to existing roles. How will the appointment of these positions actually occur?
Our overriding principle is always to meet all requirements within the collective agreement. With this in mind, there are a number of ways that positions will be filled. As a result of the new model, it's likely that most positions will see some degree of change or impact, even if it is just a change in who you report to. There will also be a number of roles with obvious candidates, and those individuals will be looked at for possible direct appointments or internal expressions of interest. There will also be a number of new roles with no equivalent role. In these cases, a new job posting will be posted and filled using a competitive process, with preference given to internal candidates, as much as possible. We know that you are anxious to know the timing of these roles and we'll soon be rolling out a website that will provide details on the timing and type of roles that will need to be filled.

We want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to apply for positions that they're qualified for, or interested in, and we’re currently working on creating more tools to be able to communicate upcoming positions.
How are you going to ensure EDI issues are addressed?
As we develop plans for administrative transformation with the SET program, we are continually guided by our commitments to equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) as outlined within the university’s EDI Strategic Plan. We recognize that as the university’s workforce is reduced due to budgetary constraints, these reductions are likely to negatively impact the progress made in providing a more inclusive work environment. As we implement new administrative structures in the future, we will actively follow established EDI practices with the desire to increase/maintain representation from under-represented groups in our decisions regarding new appointments and role recruitment. EDI has been, and will continue to be, important to the university and the SET program.

We have also asked all members of the SET team to complete the federal government's GBA+ training, so that we have a better understanding of unintentional biases and all EDI issues as we're designing the processes.

If you have questions relating to the University of Alberta for Tomorrow, Administrative or Academic restructuring, visit the U of A for Tomorrow FAQ.