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 updates

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.

Process redesigns are ongoing and more information can be found on the process redesign page.


  • Discover Phase (December 2020 to February 2021): Information Gathering. Understand finance services across the institution and who delivers them, as well as identify opportunities for simplification.
    • Discovery Toolkit
    • Begin Plan January 2021
  • Prepare Phase (May 2021): Analysis and Validation. Synthesize the information collected. Identify key considerations for planning the transition (e.g. big gaps, risks, quick wins).
    • Analyze and Validate
    • Continue Plan
  • Transition Phase (July 2021): Transition Planning. Develop and implement transition plans considering people, processes, technology, applications, and timing.
    • Finish Plan end-May

Career opportunities

To view upcoming position opportunities in finance, please check the SET Position Opportunities Page (otherwise known as “POP”) regularly. Once a position has been finalized and the competition launched, you can apply to it on the U of A 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
  • Sara Horseman  — Financial Analyst/Senior Finance Partner

Consultation and engagement events

  • September 14, 2021: Finance Management Committee update
  • July 13, 2021: Finance Management Committee project update
  • June 28 & July 6: Senior Finance Partner Training and Onboarding Sessions
  • June 2021: Chart of Accounts workgroups activity
  • May 2021: Procurement Support workgroups activity
  • April/May 2021: Payment Services workgroups activity
  • April 30, 2021: Reviewed discovery priorities with Finance Management Committee
  • April 30, 2021: Reviewed partner model with College Deans and College General Managers
  • April 8, 2021: SET Steering Committee Presentation
  • March 9, 2021: Finance Management Committee project update
  • February 1, 2021: Ask SET Anything: Finance Edition
  • January 22, 25, 26 & 27, 2021: Discovery workbook drop in sessions
  • January 15 & 18, 2021: Discovery Workbook How-To Sessions
  • January 12, 2021: Finance Management Committee Presentation
Check the UAT consultation page for upcoming events.

Frequently asked questions

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)?

Financial administration of research projects is an area that’s still under exploration and discussion. Overall, the PI has final responsibility for reconciliation for research projects. However, as we explore and redesign these processes, we want to ensure that support for PIs on these functions be as effective as possible. 

[Updated October 25, 2021]

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 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.
Where does my production services team (finance) fit in the new model?
The new Finance, Procurement and Planning org chart has been shared on the SET website, but if you do not see your team, this means SET is still working to determine where it fits. As a result, there is a good chance that some of your team’s work may move into Shared Services. We expect that finance and procurement services will transition into Shared Services in early fall, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

[Updated July 27, 2021]
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.