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FAQs - how finance services are changing

Why are financial services changing?

The change is part of the Operational Excellence stream of the UNSW 2025 Strategy.

The new model for delivering financial services will, when complete:

  • provide a shared service model for financial service at UNSW
  • strengthen finance processes across the university
  • increase the specialist skills base of university finance staff
  • improve financial expertise available to faculties and divisions across the university
How will the change to a new financial service model be implemented?

The transition to a new service model will take place in two phases:

  • Phase 1 – Service consolidation – completed September 2017
  • Phase 2 – Process and system optimisation – from October 2017

Existing initiatives aimed at improving systems and processes will continue concurrently with both phases.

PHASE 1: Service consolidation – completed September 2017

Responsibility for management of financial services moved from faculties and divisions during Phase 1.  This transitional phase was completed across the university in early September. The focus of this phase is to transfer tasks to Finance and minimise disruption of service.

This phase has delivered:

Shared Service Model

  • Bringing together finance skills and expertise into a single finance team for the university
  • Shifting the focus of skills from finance generalists to finance specialists.
  • Single point of contact for most transactional activities e.g. purchasing, credit card reconciliation.

Faculty Level Consolidation

A single approach to financial service delivery in each faculty and division

Business Partnering Capability

Dedicated Business Partners will provide faculty and division management with strategic financial guidance and advice.


Service consolidation was delivered to faculties and divisions across the university in three separate groups:

Group 1 (June)

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
     

Group 2 (July)

  • Faculties: Medicine, Built Environment, Art and Design, and Business

  • Divisions: IT, Estate Management, External Relations, Philanthropy, DVC Enterprise

Group 3 (September)

  • Faculties: Law, Engineering and Science

  • Divisions: BACS, VP & COS, SDVC, DID, DVCR, DVC Education

In order to ensure a smooth transition, finance has taken a staged approach to the physical relocation of staff from faculties and divisions to the central finance team. For example, most members of the Management and Reporting and Analysis Team are expected to remain in faculties and divisions until the conclusion of this year’s budget processes in October.


PHASE 2: Process & System Optimisation – from October 2017

Phase 2 will be dedicated to optimising and standardising service delivery across the university. We will work closely with all divisions and faculties to identify priorities and at the same time leverage technology to improve our services.

How will we know what is happening?

Finance is committed to work closely with each faculty and division to ensure effective communication. This includes use of face-to-face briefing, forums and email.

Contact details for finance services, are available online here.

How are financial services delivered?

At the completion of Phase 1 Finance will provide similar quality financial service to that currently delivered. During Phase 2 of the transformation, Finance will work to optimise processes and systems.

Finance services will be delivered through six teams. While each team has distinct responsibilities, they will work closely together to ensure our customers will get seamless service. In other words, no matter who you ask a question of in finance, they will help you.

 

Team Responsibility Primary stakeholders
Finance Operations team Responsible for most common financial transactions such as credit cards, accounts payable and expense reimbursements Any member of staff at UNSW
Management Reporting & Analysis Provides financial management reporting, budget preparation and forecasts Faculty, school, and divisional management and the academic community
Research Finance Accounting and budgeting for research Research community and divisional research
Finance Business Partners Provides strategic advice and support Senior members of faculty and divisional management teams
Treasury, Investments & Insurance Responsible for treasury activities, including investments and insurance for the university Predominantly university senior university finance and executive teams
Group Financial Control Responsible for managing tax, compliance, and external reporting Predominantly university senior university finance and executive teams

Every effort has been made to minimise disruption to the delivery of financial services in the transition period. Teams are assigned to provide services to a faculty or division where dedicated specialist knowledge is required. In addition, where possible, staff who transfer to a Finance team will continue to provide services to the faculty or division in which they previously worked.

Do the faculties and divisions retain responsibility for any financial matters?

Responsibility for some key matters that relate to finance will remain with faculties and divisions. These mainly relate to responsibility for management of budgets, approval of expenditure and some tasks of an administrative nature.

The administrative part of transactional activities will remain with each faculty and division. This includes getting receipts and approving expenses for transactions such as customer billing, credit cards, expense reimbursement and purchasing.  The following chart provides a summary of the split in responsibility for common transactional activities between each faculty or division and Finance. 

Transactional processes Responsibility
Pre-work - e.g. obtaining input information, receipts, providing project detail etc Faculty/School/Division
Processing – e.g. reconciling, answering queries, input to NSF etc Finance
Approval – e.g. approving expense claims, credit card limit increases etc Faculty/School/Division
Output – e.g. matching invoices, procesing payment, resolving queries etc Finance

Finance will provide strategic advice and guidance around financial management including preparation of budgets, reporting, and forecasting.  

Financial management Responsibility
  • Overall accountability for management of budgets
Faculty/School/Division
  • Prepare budgets
  • Prepare forecasts
  • Perform general accounting
  • Provide management reports & analysis
  • Provide business advice & support
Finance

Finance will support large scale procurement activities and processing of purchase orders (ie processing of approved purchase orders and payment of bills). With respect to travel, Finance will provide a standard service for travel using preferred supplier arrangements. 

Purchasing processes Responsibility
  • Define business requirements and commence ordering process
  • Receipting good received
Faculty/School/Division
  • Support large scale procurement activities (e.g. tenders)
  • Provide standard panels for goods and services
Finance

 

What travel services does Finance provide?

Where the practice in a faculty or division is for individuals to book their own travel, or use a division/school/faculty resource to do that for them, they can continue to do so. 

Where booking assistance is required from Finance, travel services can be provided by the Finance helpdesk (financehelp@unsw.edu.au) as follows:

Finance travel services Responsibility
  • Lodgement of request. Travel request must be lodged with:
    • authority to travel documentation (as per current school/faculty/division policy)
    • travel details (date, time, destination, preferences such as airline, fare class, hotel)
    • details of travel allowance as appropriate
Faculty/School/Division
  • Finance helpdesk will
    • make domestic bookings in Serko
    • liaise with preferred supplliers to obtain quotes for international travel
    • liaise with traveller for final go ahead to make booking
Finance

At a broader level, Finance will continue to provide travel system, policy and process advice as they currently do.