Finance is one of the four main functions within the PEAK Initiative.
The Finance Operations Center was established as part of PEAK to create a more efficient, equitable, and consistent way to deliver and receive services at the University. The center will provide individual contributors the benefits of working on a team surrounded by other specialized Finance professionals and the structure of clearly defined levels and pathways for advancement within the center.
Positions in the Finance Operations Center for existing Finance staff will be created that focus on:
- Accounts receivable
- Accounts payable
Opportunities will be created through clearly defined roles, standardized job responsibilities (across similar job titles), and classifications.
New Director of the Finance Operations Center
Director of the Finance Operations Center - Rahfat Hussain
Currently, the Finance Operations Director is in the process of standing up the department and working with/through the PEAK Initiative to fully staff the operation, create service request processes, and more. Please reach out Rahfat Hussain through email with any feedback or questions you may have.
Finance Resources are listed below.
The Finance Operations Center
The Finance Operations Center will include purchasing, accounts payable, accounts receivable/billing, and general accounting work. Job descriptions for opportunities in the Finance Operations Center will be shared with Phase 1 units as part of the Expression of Interest.
A service request process is being designed, along with instructions to assist people with getting the work completed. Details will be available for units in Phase 1 as we get closer to the opening date of the Finance Operations Center for campus/colleges/units in Phase 1. Phase 1 units--the people who work in the departments supported by the Center--will receive detailed instructions on how to connect with the center.
Work within the Operations Center
The Finance Operations Center will include purchasing, accounts payable, accounts receivable/billing, and general accounting work. Job descriptions for opportunities in the Finance Operations Center will be shared with Phase 1 campus/colleges/units as part of the Expression of Interest process.
How will individual roles change?
It depends on the individual and which role they will be moving into. Let’s take Ramon for example. Right now, Ramon performs a variety of finance tasks. They perform journal entries, enter purchasing requisitions, monitor accounts receivable activity, and miscellaneous finance tasks. They recently helped a faculty member complete some travel expense reimbursements.
When Ramon joins the Finance Operations Center, they will be able to focus on an area of specialty, receive the latest updates on process right away, have the support of peers working on similar things, and there will be backup to ensure services continue to be provided when Ramon is out of the office.
Not all individuals experience the same challenges as Ramon, but there is variation in how campuses/ colleges/units are resourced and there is potential for more consistency in Finance work.
How is the Work Changing?
In Review, Finance Work Today
- Lack of experience with processes to complete certain tasks, leading to delays
- Different levels of support depending on campus/college/unit
- Limited opportunity to develop expertise in a subject area
- Compliance risks
In Review, Finance Work Tomorrow
- Clear roles and responsibilities
- Streamlined processes to complete tasks
- Consistent, equitable support for departments
- Consistent backup for Finance Operations Center team members when out of office
- Opportunity to train and develop expertise in a certain subject area
- Less compliance risk
Below are some of the questions to help provide information on general and staff specific Finance questions. Additional FAQs are available for each of the main function areas. The general PEAK questions can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page.
These questions have been updated as of April 18, 2023.
General Finance Questions
How will unique or complex unit-specific operations be handled by the Finance Operations Center?
PEAK seeks to standardize operations as much as possible systemwide while recognizing the unique and specific attributes of each department. For Finance, during each phase, RRCs will meet as a group and one-on-one with the PEAK team to discuss unit-specific nuances and identify where standardization is possible. Where it isn’t possible, the unit and the PEAK team will work together to map a path forward that ensures that the unit is fully supported locally or via the Finance Operations Center.
What will support look like for the campuses/units? How will Finance Operations Center positions stay connected to the mission of the units that they support?
The Finance Operations Center rests on three important pillars: service, connectivity, and continuous improvement. Every member of the Finance Operations Center should be driven by a desire to provide world-class customer service while remaining connected in real ways other than reporting lines to the units they support. This connection may take on many forms, such as regular meetings or participation in special events (for example, a researcher provides an overview of their work with context that connects to financial success). Supported departments will have robust and evolving Service Level Agreements which establish baselines for service and connectivity.
How will financial work related to grants management (sponsored projects) change with PEAK?
Conduct of sponsored research is outside the current scope of PEAK but some aspects of sponsored financial activity will be impacted by PEAK. For example, the certified approver program that provides for special review/approval of sponsored activity is not changing, but the transaction to procure a good or service will shift to the Finance Operations Center. Pre-award work is not moving to the Finance Operations Center. Some post-award accounting will likely remain with the units, with some tie in to the Finance Operations Center as needed based on transaction type. There are no planned changes to Sponsored Projects Administration (SPA) or Sponsored Financial Reporting (SFR) responsibilities or services.
What work is moving to the Finance Operations Center?
Certain work is moving to the Finance Operations Center: portions of the procurement process, contracting for services, accounts payable, journal entries, accounts receivable/billing, and more. PEAK representatives will hold meetings with Resource Responsibility Center leaders during each phase to discuss the larger catalog of services and work together to map a path forward.
When will this transition take place and how will current services continue to be carried out?
The Finance Operations Center will be rolled out over several phases. Several Resource Responsibility Centers will be brought into the Finance Operations Center in each phase. In general, after the expression of interest process and other planning, as people from a unit transition to the FinOps Center, the related work for that unit would move as well. This is of course an oversimplification, but there is a great deal of planned coordination as each unit transitions. No unit will be left without any support.
How will staff in the Finance Operations Center experience any variety in their work?
Those who choose to move to the Finance Operations Center will likely continue to support the same departments that they do today. We want to encourage employees to keep their valuable local connections. We also want those units that lack full support today to benefit from a team of highly motivated, experienced and talented team of finance professionals.
Staffing the Ops Center & Classification
How are affected finance staff identified?
For Phase 1 units, PEAK leaders have worked with Unit Transition Teams, Unit Senior Leadership, and Employee and Labor relations to identify the work individuals do in their campus/college/unit. This process created a shared understanding of who does work that is moving into the Finance Operations Center. Individuals who do any work that is moving into the FinOps Center will be affected in some way. It may mean their day-to-day activities will change, or it may mean they express interest in and accept a position in the FinOps Center.
How will staffing levels for the Finance Operations Center work?
- If too many employees in the specific phase units express interest in a specific role, people may be offered their second or third choice role. Where possible, employees in the FinOps Center will continue to support the same campus, college, or unit they supported prior to expressing interest in the FinOps Center role.
- If too few employees in the specific phase units express interest, the FinOps Center leadership may reach out to supervisors and individuals to address any concerns that might be holding people back from expressing interest. If existing employees in the specific phase aren’t available, positions will be posted internally following the University’s posting process.
- When the FinOps Center begins supporting Phase 1 departments, enough people are needed to handle the workload moving there from the Crookston, Duluth, Morris, and Rochester campuses as well as Humprey, Law School, Board of Regents, Internal Audit, Office of Human Resources, University Finance, and the Office of Information Technology. People will have choices but it is unrealistic to expect no one will move to the FinOps Center, or that only a handful of people from across the system will do so.
Are the positions in the Operations Center AFSCME, Civil Service or P & A?
Yes, there is a mix of Labor Represented (AFSCME), Civil Service, and P&A. Please view position descriptions on the Implementation page to gain a better understanding of the roles available in the Operations Center.
Staff who are in scope for the expression of interest fall into multiple employee groups, notably AFSCME labor represented and civil service staff. How is this being managed, and what will be the impact on both employee groups?
You all have heard about the upcoming workforce transition and expression of interest processes. We are still working with Unit Transition Teams, Unit Sr. Leadership, Central Leadership and Employee and Labor Relations (ELR) to ensure the process adheres to all of our guiding principles and commitments to you all. Additionally, ELR is working with union leaders to ensure the process complies with labor contracts.
We are currently continuing to partner with Transition Teams to understand how PEAK will affect our team members and we will use the insights gathered from each campus/college/unit to finalize the Phase 1 transition plan and process. We will engage you again before beginning any process to ensure you are aware of how it will affect you, the timing, and how the process will work.
We have published Position Descriptions on the PEAK website. These will help you to gain a better understanding of what the operations centers/common goods services will look like and the work that will be realigned through PEAK. These may evolve over time as we continue to partner with you all to work through the workforce transition.
Presently we have student employees support financial work and handle responsibilities that are planned for the operations center. Will there be options for student employees within the FinOps Center?
For the Phase 1 units, there are no immediate plans for student positions. This is to ensure the employees moving to the newly formed FinOps Center have the full attention of the organization. FinOps Center leaders are taking steps to identify potential work for students, as every University campus/college/unit does as a matter of routine.
Will people who choose to stay in their current position be reclassified if their work goes to the FinOps Center?
For the work that remains in the unit, that work should be organized and assigned in a way that matches the job classifications of the individuals remaining in the unit. There may be situations where the work doesn’t match, in those cases, HR professionals would advise on actions.
How many positions will be available in the Operations Center in just PHASE 1?
Multiple positions will be available. For example, there will not be one or two accounts payable team members, there will be many accounts payable team members, enough to cover the work moving to the FinOps Center for all the units being served. Please view position descriptions on the Implementation page to gain a better understanding of the roles available in the Operations Center. The number of roles available does not have a direct correlation to the number of people who might be filling those roles.
Where will approvals reside (within the departments or FinOps Center)?
Responsibility for the review and approval of transactions remains with the campus/college/unit.
What will be included in “Purchasing Contracts” in the Finance Operations Center, and what will remain in the unit?
In short, the FinOps Center would facilitate the contracts process. One example, the Finance Operations Center would help departments determine if a contract is necessary, if the standard U of M contract can be used, or if the supplier’s contract should be used. In situations where a supplier contract might be used, the FinOps Center team would make a preliminary review of business terms and conditions, identify any terms and conditions that might be problematic for the U, flag them for Office of General Counsel (OGC) review, interface with OGC, and handle the “back and forth” between the supplier and OGC, if necessary.
Will employee EFS access change once this process is fully implemented? Will there be inquiry access available if people lose other access?
Access to systems will change. It depends on what access is held today and what work will be performed after PEAK-related transitions are made. For example, someone with voucher entry access today may use the EFS access to view financial activity in other modules. If that person remains in the department, that person will no longer have voucher entry access and would need a different access profile. There are a variety of access profiles available today that will be available no matter where someone works. The Controller’s Office is reviewing access roles to determine if any new inquiry roles need to be created, or not, so departments can access information. The access role change will happen automatically, including provisioning of any new inquiry role.
Will there be a separate "Requisition Preparer" and "Buyer" for purchasing? What is the chain of contact with departments?
This is one of the important and big changes that will hopefully improve things for departments. There will be people in the FinOps Center who fill both roles (requisition preparer and buyer). They will do any work on system transactions that needs to occur. They will also act as “buyers” helping departments locate goods and services or identify suppliers, if a department asks for the help. The idea is that you can make a request to the FinOps Center, find me X (with some details), and they will get it for you.
What will the relationship between the requisitioner and unit be like?
What is the relationship like today? It’s important to understand what a departments needs and expectations are so people can arrive at a common understanding, so the FinOps Center will be working with campuses/colleges/units as people transition to set service levels and discuss details. Most areas have unique activities and FinOps Center team members will take the time to get to know the unique needs for a department–remember these are our collective support team and trusted coworkers today, their reporting lines are what is changing. We hope that in many cases the person supporting these activities in the future is the same person who was supporting the activities before the transition took place. Where FinOps Center team members are unfamiliar with an area they will be supporting, they will take the time to get to know people, get to know the unique needs, and work with departments just as they do today.
If one of my staff moves to the Finance Operations Center, who pays that person's salary and fringe?
PEAK is paying for PEAK. Units with budgetary authority today will continue to maintain that authority. Unit-specific budget and hiring decisions will continue to be the responsibility of campus, collegiate, and administrative leadership. The systemwide Budget Office is working to identify and track PEAK-related savings over the course of the multi-phased implementation and will make decisions, in consultation with University and unit leadership, as to how savings will be used to the benefit of the University. All units will remain budget neutral for PEAK related changes throughout project implementation; no unit will be advantaged or disadvantaged financially due to their PEAK phase.
Culture & Community
How will the Finance leaders create a sense of community/belonging and make the transition to being a true UMN System entity?
Building teams is something that takes both action and time. The FinOps Center will use the same concepts and activities other University departments use today to engage team members and help grow together into a cohesive group. A virtual or hybrid organization has its challenges but our response to the pandemic has shown us that we have successfully leveraged the power of technology to come together as a group. Across the University today, many groups have built a strong community and engaged more now than ever before. It is our hope that the FinOps Center will continue to rely on some of the same practices and build our system identity and community. For example, the FinOps Center will consolidate institutional knowledge and crosstrain people to support areas with specialty needs. The intent is to have people continue to support the units they support today wherever possible and share their knowledge with their new team in the FinOps Center. Teams will be encouraged to participate in and share mission related activity that is happening with their FinOps Center colleagues. We want people to keep their current working relationships, and bring experiences with them to share and introduce others to in the areas they know most about and the people they have supported. We envision that the FinOps Center team will identify both with the units they support and the system FinOps Center team.
Will there be part time FinOps Center positions?
At this time the plan for Phase 1 is that all of the opportunities are full time positions.
Will there be split appointment FinOps Center positions?
There are no split appointments for the FinOps Center.
What would a hybrid arrangement look like for someone on the Duluth campus? Where would we physically report to work?
People will not be required to relocate their personal residences to another city. The Finance Operations Center is open to remote work arrangements, flexible work arrangements, and in-person on campus arrangements. For some specific work that must take place on campus (just as that work must take place on campus today), space will be made available on a campus of the University near the person who will be doing that work. Specific space arrangements are still in progress, so exact locations for on-campus work are not yet known.
Are there opportunities to work in-person in the FinOps center?
Will Lab Services Coordinators be able to place an order (enter the requisition) and not just make a cart? Where specific items are unavailable, only they would know which replacements are acceptable.
Everyone will have access to put items in carts via U Market but only FinOps Center staff will be able to complete purchases for Phase 1 units. Your colleagues in the FinOps Center are available and there to do this work for you. As a part of this effort, Lab Coordinators and others in similar roles can choose to lean on their colleagues in the FinOps Center, freeing up their time to focus on mission. Over time as the FinOps Center teams learn the needs of the area, lab coordinators, researchers, faculty, and others can express a need for specific items, freeing up their time to focus on the mission.
How is this design viewed as being more efficient?
Today financial staff enter directly into PeopleSoft. In the new model, staff will enter into an intermediary system so that the operations staff can enter into the financial system. Isn't this simply adding a layer of process? It's not clear how this is efficient or saves money.
PEAK’s ultimate outcome is the realignment of our people to the way we will do work in the future. The work will be moving to the Finance Operations Center, so there will not be two people doing the work of one. There aren’t people being added to the process. Today departments across the system have people who buy goods and services to support the operations of an area. In some situations, faculty, lab staff or others have taken on this administrative role themselves. The idea is to put the support tasks back in the hands of support staff so faculty and researchers can focus on mission.
How will people in the Finance Operations Center be trained to do this work, and keep skills fresh?
In the FinOps Center there will be tighter alignment with the business process owner units. Day-to-day learning and improvements will naturally occur, and there will be thoughtful knowledge transfer as people move, and as changes are made to policies, procedures, or systems. See the position descriptions on the Implementation page, there is an expectation of additional training and professional development for each of the FinOps Center positions. The FinOps Center team will be skilled people who are already trained to perform this work, they are our University colleagues who are already here.
Why did I receive a responsibility tracker? I perform very little work that is shifting to the FinOps Center.
Everyone classified in a finance position or known to perform finance work today was included as part of the information sharing/gathering related to the responsibility tracker for each area. This helps ensure the effort doesn’t miss important work being done in each area, no matter who performs the work, including leaders for each area. This gives the leadership of each campus/college/unit an opportunity to assess and address the entirety of the work currently done by their area. Completing a responsibility tracker does not mean you will also receive an Expression of Interest form.
The shopping cart in UMarket, what is the turnaround time for the representative to process the cart?
Service level agreements have not yet been set, there will be one for each business process.
How can I access the list to see if my name was on the responsibility tracker?
If you perform finance work today and are in a Phase 1 unit, reach out to the Transition Team for your area.
When will our supervisors know whose jobs are impacted and to what degree?
Some Phase 1 units have data analyzed and back, and some are still working on the responsibility tracker and identifying who is impacted and who isn't. This work is very important, though it is taking more time than planned. We hope all will understand the need to take care with the work. Once the results of the responsibility tracker work is available for a campus/college/unit, supervisors will be a part of that discussion, and will make sure that individual employees know who is impacted and have conversations with individual employees. The transition team members are being thoughtful about the evaluation that they're doing right now. Talking points are being created with the Office of Human Resources’ guidance to help supervisors through those conversations.
What criteria was used to determine which functions moved to FinOps and which remained in the unit?
Some of the work that's set to be in-scope for the FinOps Center doesn't seem appropriate or helpful from an institutional standpoint and other changes make sense and seem like there's opportunity for improvement.
For the Finance area, the PEAK Initiative included a comprehensive look at services across the University system. Previous efforts focused on managing costs unit-by-unit versus the PEAK Initiative's focus on systemic change, starting with taking a deep look at how the University system operates, how we work together, and what opportunities exist to align work with priorities while making better use of our resources (people and funding). During calendar year 2022, teams from across the system took part in focused conversations about financial functions. That discovery and analysis work, coupled with the fact that much of the financial work is already clustered in some way, ultimately led to the design of which financial functions would shift into a shared service center.
Will we be able to physically stay in our current location if we do decide to work for the Fin Op center?
Arrangements are still being worked out for where people who will work on campus might be officed.
If I choose not to apply to move to a service center position, will I lose my current position?
PEAK is not about reducing the number of employees. There is finance work that will still need to be performed at the campus, college, or unit levels. Your transition team will evaluate what that remaining work is, what other work is needed to support your unit and the mission of your college or your campus, and potentially shift work to your position based on your classification and your capacity. There's a lot of responsibility on the transition teams to understand the work and the priorities in your unit. People are encouraged to be open to new possibilities and to know that work is changing, whether it is shifting to the FinOps Center or remaining in the unit.
Implementation Phase 1 - Milestone 3 Town Hall
- View the Finance Milestone 3 Town Hall presentation deck
- Watch the Finance Town Hall recording (for University of Minnesota staff systemwide - login required)
Implementation Phase 1 - Milestone 2 Informational Meeting
- View the Finance Milestone 2 presentation deck
- Watch the Finance meeting recording (for University of Minnesota staff systemwide - login required)
If you have Finance specific questions, please use the Resource Responsibility Center contact list to connect directly with people.
More information is also available about the Finance Operations Center on the Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations website. You may also email the center directly with additional questions.
Sponsor & Transition Teams
View the PEAK Initiative Sponsors.
Find your representative on the list of Phase 1 transition team members from Finance, Human Resources (HR), Information Technology (IT), and Marketing and Communications (Marcom).
If you have additional comments, inquiries or feedback, use the PEAK contact form to connect with the PEAK office.