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UR Better Projects
Travel and Expense Reporting

Project Status: Complete

Project Description: The previous process for submitting travel and expense reimbursement reports was both time consuming and paper intensive. While the form was hosted in BannerWeb, faculty, staff, and students submitting reports were still required to print the completed report, attach paper receipts for all expenses, collect necessary approval signatures, and send the approved report and documentation through campus mail. It also required a high level of manual processing by the Accounts Payable office. The UR Better team began exploring options for a new system that would offer a more user- and environmentally-friendly solution, allowing users to submit reports and supporting documentation and receive all necessary approvals through a fully electronic process.

After a thorough RFP process, the University selected Chrome River as its new travel and expense management system. UR Better partnered with Strategic Sourcing & Payments on implementation throughout 2019 and rolled the system out across campus to all employees in January 2020. Chrome River replaced the BannerWeb travel and expense reimbursement process as well as the JPMorgan Chase PaymentNet PCard reconciliation process.

Chrome River allows users to capture receipts and submit reports entirely electronically. Approvals for all reports are routed automatically and users can track the progress of their expense report as it moves through the approval queue. Approvers can review reports remotely and approve through email or the Chrome River website or app. Chrome River's functionality integrates checks against the University's travel and expense policies to make verification of policy compliance easier and more transparent.

In short, the implementation has simplified and streamlined the travel and expense reimbursement and PCard reconciliation process for submitters and approvers, resulting in faster processing of reports and reimbursements across campus and a great reduction in paper usage.

Major/Minor Declaration Forms

Project Status: Complete

Project Description: To declare a major or minor, students previously relied on a paper-based process that required them to hand-deliver a form to multiple offices across campus for signatures. The UR Better team explored options to transition this to an e-form that will save time for students and administrative offices on campus, reduce data errors, and improve user satisfaction.

The UR Better team worked with members of the Registrar's Office and the Academic Advising Resource Center to design a streamlined, electronic solution and then worked with Information Services to develop an online web application that allows students, departments, and the Registrar's Office to submit and process curriculum change requests entirely electronically. Testing was completed in June 2019 and the UR Better team began training departmental users across campus in July. As of July 2019, all curriculum change requests are now submitted and processed using the new form.

The new form has simplified and streamlined the process for students and departments completing the form, improved the accuracy of the forms submitted, and reduced the amount of time required to process a curriculum change request.

HR Personnel Action Forms

Project Description: Human Resources currently hosts a large list of Personnel Action Forms on their website. Departments across campus submit these forms to HR to process any changes in personnel compensation or status. Currently, HR posts the forms to their website as PDFs that allow for significant flexibility for departments completing the form but also frequently result in data errors requiring the form to be returned and reapproved, resulting in processing delays. The UR Better team explored options to transition to an electronic form that provides a series of dynamically selected questions based on the action being taken. The form will collect only the information needed, auto-populate data where possible, route to appropriate approvers, and push the data into Banner directly, when desired. This will reduce errors, save time in administrative offices across campus, improve user satisfaction, and expedite processing.

Project Cycle Stage: Project Work: Implementation

Current Status: The UR Better team identified an online form solution using OnBase. Given the wide range of forms currently in use by Human Resources, UR Better proposed beginning the project by transitioning a pilot group of forms to the new solution with a goal to transition additional forms as resources allow. UR Better partnered with Human Resources and Information Services to develop the form specs and IS has built a draft of the first form that is currently being tested by Human Resources and a group of campus users. Once the form has been finalized, UR Better and Human Resources will begin working on a coordinated rollout of the form and planning for the next phase of forms for conversion.

Dynamic Forms

Project Description: Much of the university still relies on paper or PDF-based forms that require inefficient and manual workflows and processes. While we have made progress on converting some of these to electronic forms with automated workflows, the solutions have generally required significant levels of custom development from Information Services on a sporadic, case-by-case basis. Alternatively, any offices have taken it upon themselves to convert paper-based forms and processes, but are frequently required to use systems and software not ideal for the task.

UR Better identified a product, Dynamic Forms, which allows institutions to design and implement electronic forms and workflows. The simple form design interface and ease of use of the system will allow UR Better to create forms for offices with integrated workflows without requiring significant IS project work. The product integrates with Single Sign-On for authentication of digital signatures but can also be used to prefill fields such as name, ID, and email. The system supports the use of APIs that allow for the pulling of data from Banner to prepopulate forms as well as pushing data back into Banner, reducing the amount of manual data entry across campus. 

Project Cycle Stage: Project Work: Implementation

Current Status: This project was approved to move forward in Fall 2020 and implementation began in December 2020. Collaborating with several pilot offices, UR Better identified five pilot forms to build as part of the implementation and met with the offices to discuss the current forms, including the data collected, how it was used, and the accompanying workflow to process the form. Working with the vendor, UR Better built draft versions of the pilot forms in the system and is in the process of testing with the respective offices. Once this initial batch of forms is finalized, they will be rolled out to users across campus, and UR Better will begin the process of identifying the next forms and communicating to offices how they may submit future form requests for consideration.

Interdepartmental Charges

Project Description: The UR Better team received a suggestion indicating that the current process for on-campus departments charging other departments for good and services is inconsistent, lacks transparency, and creates a potentially unnecessary administrative burden. The UR Better team is exploring ways in which the current interdepartmental charge policies and practices can be updated and clarified to reduce burden.

Project Cycle Stage: Project Work: Analysis

Current Status: The UR Better team is currently working with the Controller’s Office to identify the full scope of interdepartmental charges occurring across campus. Once the full scope has been identified, the project team will begin formulating a proposed framework and accompanying policies to reduce, clarify, and streamline interdepartmental charges moving forward.

Shout-Outs for Your Improvements

We want to recognize the great process improvement work being undertaken by offices across campus by sharing highlights of projects below. Please share your improvement projects with us so we can celebrate your successes!

Student Complaint Process Centralization

Office Implementing Improvement: Student Development

Project Description: In Section 12: Academic and Student Support Services of The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges’ (SACSCOC) Principles of Accreditation it states that, “The institution (a) publishes appropriate and clear procedures for addressing written student complaints, (b) demonstrates that it follows the procedures when resolving them, and (c) maintains a record of student complaints that can be accessed upon request by SACSCOC. (Student complaints).” SACSCOC has always found the University to be compliant with this principle, however, our process was decentralized meaning each office had its own way and timeline of processing student complaints.

Improved Solution: Julia Kelly, Assistant to the Vice President for Student Development, drafted a webpage, policy, and form that was finalized and implemented with the help of the Office of Planning & Policy on February 14, 2020. The new process makes it clear that the University of Richmond values feedback from its students and believes students should be able to discuss problems and express concerns to the University and free from duress or retaliation. The University is committed to providing students with an avenue to express concerns and to work with University officials towards amicable resolutions. The University believes engaging in this process can also be an inherently valuable educational experience for students and can help prepare students to address issues in a professional and productive manner after they leave the University.

Financial Aid Loan Repackaging

Office Implementing Improvement: Financial Aid

Project Description: Each October 1st, the Federal Direct Loan origination fee changes. Any loan that has not been originated and disbursed as of October 1st has to be canceled and reprocessed with the correct origination fee. Since October 1st is in the middle of the fall semester, there are often several hundred student loans in various stages of processing that have not yet been disbursed. These loans must be canceled, reprocessed with the updated fee, and the appropriate federal office notified. In the past, the Office of Financial Aid manually canceled and reprocessed each of the hundreds of impacted loans one by one.  

Improved Solution: Using available functionality in Banner, the Office of Financial Aid programmed a process that allows the office to systematically cancel loans that had not been disbursed as of October 1, notify the appropriate federal office, update the origination fee, and reprocess the loans with the updated origination fee in batch. This simplified, automated process saves staff time, reduces reprocessing time, and reduces risk of user error.