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UR Better Projects
Travel and Expense Reporting

Project Description: The current process for submitting travel and expense reimbursement reports is both time consuming and paper intensive. While the current form is hosted in BannerWeb, faculty, staff, and students submitting reports are 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 requires a high level of manual processing by the Accounts Payable office. The UR Better team is 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.

Project Cycle Stage: Project Work: Implementation

Current Status: The UR Better team proposed exploring a third-party solution that supported electronic travel and expense reports and reimbursements, and 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 the implementation throughout 2019, and the system was rolled out across campus to all employees in January 2020.


HR Personnel Action Forms

Project Description: Human Resources currently hosts a large list of Personnel Action Forms on their website. These forms are submitted by departments across campus to HR to process any changes in personnel compensation or status. The current forms are posted 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 is exploring options to transition to a form that provides a series of dynamically-selected questions based on the action being taken. The form would collect only the information needed, would auto-populate where possible, route to appropriate approvers, and push the data into Banner directly. This will reduce errors, save time in administrative offices across campus, improve user satisfaction, and expedite processing.

Project Cycle Stage: Project Work: Analysis

Current Status: The UR Better team has identified an online form solution. Given the wide range of forms currently in use by Human Resources, UR Better will begin the project by transitioning a pilot group of forms to the new solution with a goal to transition additional forms as resources allow. The UR Better Steering Committee has endorsed this solution and approach, and the UR Better team is working with Information Services on developing an implementation plan and timeline for the project.

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.

Major/Minor Declaration Forms

Project Description: To declare a major or minor, students previously relied on a paper-based process for 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.

Project Cycle Stage: Project Work: Post-Implementation Evaluation

Current Status: 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 will now be submitted and processed using the new form. The UR Better team plans to survey students who used the new process in its first year to assess project success.

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.