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Financial reports redesigned to be more useful to sponsored research administrators

Departments in Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn, and in the University Hospitals and Health System will see improvements to financial reports thanks to a project initiated by the Sponsored Programs Implementation Team (SPIT).

The newly designed reports will be implemented Dec. 9 with the distribution of Nov. 2002 financial reports packages.

The Report Redesign teammade up of research administrators from units, colleges and institutes, and representatives from the sponsored research area of Financial Operations and the Financial Systems Division of Michigan Administrative Information Services (MAIS)have worked together for months to determine how some reports could be redesigned so they provide financial information in a way that is more useful to sponsored research administrators.

The results are five redesigned reports: the Project/Grant Budget Status Report (PBSR), Statement of Activity (SOA) by Project/Grant, SOA by Fund/Department/Program, SOA by Project/Grant Voucher Detail Expense Report and SOA Fund/Department/Program Voucher Detail Expense Report.

The process used to redesign the reports began after members of SPIT completed a survey of the problems, issues and improvements collected from members of the sponsored research community.

"It was of utmost importance that we get the sponsored research community involved in the process," says Virginia Wait, a research administrator from Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and chairperson for SPIT. "We felt that was the only
way to ensure that changes would be beneficial to a large section of the sponsored research community."

Although SPIT includes representatives who are research administrators, the redesign process was expanded to include others who would be directly impacted by the changes. Administrators from several units who use the monthly reports were invited to join focus groups and given an active voice in how the reports would be changed. They were charged with evaluating the ideas, reviewing the proposed changes, and suggesting additional recommendations based on their units' reporting needs and business practices.

A second focus group made up of department representatives from other units validated the suggested changes. Their recommendations were then taken back to the original SPIT focus group for review and to gain consensus that the changes would be of value.

Changes that met with majority agreement then were presented to SPIT for overall approval. The proposal was presented to the Budget Administrators Group for its review and support, and to the Financial Unit Liaisons for comments. The report designs were adjusted based on these final recommendations.

The reports provide valuable information to the sponsored research community. The PBSR displays the authorized budget, project-to-date expenditures, project balances and purchase order encumbrance amounts by budget category for each fund of a budgeted project/grant. It also provides the project-to-date revenues and actuals balance to date by fund. The SOA by Project/Grant report summarizes posted financial activity in a selected accounting period for a project/grant. It displays total revenues and expenses and any balance overdraft amounts by fund. Monthly and year-to-date account group subtotals are shown at the end of the report.

Several activities are planned to help staff members who reconcile account information to understand the new report format. A series of interchanges are taking place in November and December. These meetings will explain the redesign process, describe the changes to the reports in detail, and present highlights and practical tips for using the reports.

Registration is not necessary, and those who are responsible for project/grant administration and monthly financial report reconciliation are encouraged to attend. Date, time and location information for each session is available at Inserts providing information about the process and the resulting report redesign were distributed to project/grant administrators and department managers with the monthly financial reports packages for October and will be sent again with the November packages.



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