Finance Culture Survey Q&A - May 2023

May 31, 2023

Q.  If you were asked to answer, ‘What would you do if money weren’t an issue to improve Finance’s culture, what would you do?’ (Aside from giving everyone raises). In addition, how often do you find yourself having to decline requests from your team because you feel you lack the power or resources and that those above you also wouldn’t approve the request? When that happens, how do you manage that situation when you feel like it is a necessary request? A good example is headcount - which is always contentious.

A.  Beyond raises, to improve Finance culture, we would continue special events; offer more coaching and mentoring programs within the university; significantly expand training opportunities; increase celebrations of individual and team successes through bonuses and events; hold more group events and higher-end group events (e.g., concerts/sporting events/Broadway shows), etc.

We sometimes decline requests because of resources. SLT, over the past several months, has focused on establishing a gating process for our significant goals, initiatives, and projects within Finance. We have seen a need to better balance operational needs and requests with our resources to ensure we can make needed improvements without burnout for our staff and teams and to ensure we do not have bottlenecks. Adding headcount is not impossible; we need to demonstrate our need for more people in specific areas through data. Learn more about the gating process in this month’s General Ledger feature story about the Finance Portfolio Dashboard.  

Q.  With the focus on OneFinance, what steps are being taken to drive the sense of collective responsibility towards the financial processes for Yale?

A.  The OneFinance initiative has leadership from central Finance and across the university. Arnim Dontes is one of the sponsors of the OneFinance program, and we meet multiple times a week with him to ensure that he and his team have a seat at the table and are engaged.  

We have established a Think Tank, and members are included from across the university and come from various positions and departments/ schools.   The OneFinance Think Tank started as (what we called an IBO pilot with an Integrated Business Office in the med school) an experiment to engage different groups around campus proactively as the initiative thinks about new policies to obtain feedback and thoughts in terms of how easy and how challenging it is to adhere to the policies from a departmental perspective.

We have established a project called “FRE,” which seeks to standardize and simplify business processes in schools and units. We are identifying those processes that need to be simplified through the use of the Financial Review Checklist (FRC).

We are actively building our Finance Training team and an associated training advisory council. One goal is to take the findings and identified training needs from OneFinance, audits, feedback from the finance community, and a gap analysis of our current training offerings to develop and standardize training for the entire Yale financial community.

Communication plans have been established by the OneFinance team to ensure that stakeholders across the university are kept informed and engaged as to the changes needed and currently being worked on.

The OneFinance program has been communicated to the Corporation. In February, we held a joint Finance and Audit Committee meeting to discuss the work being performed.