The Ufirst Project

You Asked, We Answered – Your Questions from Preview and Feedback Sessions


Our Preview and Feedback sessions provided not only a look at the future of UVA HR, but also provided a forum for end users and stakeholders to ask essential questions. How will existing processes be changing? How will basics like time off and recruiting work after Workday go-live? 

We’ve reviewed all of your submitted questions – there were literally hundreds – and consulted with experts across Grounds to get you the answers you need. Check out the top-five questions below, and browse the full list here.

Your Top-five Most Frequently Asked Questions:

1Q: Can the Workday inbox interface with the Outlook inbox so I don’t need to look in both places for HR-related messages?

A: Yes. You will receive emails in your Outlook inbox notifying you that you have action items waiting for you in your Workday inbox.

2Q: How long will Workday maintain information?

A: Indefinitely, for data entered directly into Workday after go-live. There is a limit on how much historical data can be migrated into Workday – and that varies, based on the topic, as well as compliance requirements.

3Q: Can I see how Workday works?

A: Yes. Visit the Ufirst website by clicking here. You can watch videos to see the technology and how it works. Additional learning aids and training will be available soon to assure that everyone is comfortable using Workday in time for go-live.

4Q: How will I interact with HR in the future?

A: The new model delivers expertise and agility through the Centers of Expertise. You will have HR support from the Solution Center, HR Business Partners, Employee Relations, Recruiting, and the Talent Management team.

5Q: What does the Workday launch support model consist of?

A: The Workday support model at go-live is robust, including open labs, the HR Solution Center, HR Business Partners, Workday Partners, and escalation paths to technology resources, as needed.

Meet Fredrick Martin, Senior Director, Change Management

Fredrick Martin and a friend

Learn more about Fredrick Martin, Senior Director, Change Management.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  I’m in the process of developing an approach for creating a “change agile” organization that can be leveraged across Grounds. This work is very important to me and positions the University to be the gold standard for transformation.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: Cooking, I love creating new dishes. So, great downtime for me is making a great meal, a great bottle of wine, and some great jazz.

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: Watching my two daughters grow up into young ladies that are dedicated to making this world a better place. They both are charting their own courses in life and I believe are bound for greatness. Most importantly, if I left this world today, I know they are able to take care of themselves and as a parent that’s something we all want for our children.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by John Legend.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: I once tried out for a Food Network show and made the Top 50 out of 400 people auditioning for their own show.

From the Desk of Sean Jackson: Watching the ‘BLIP’ on Our Radar

Sean Jackson, Ufirst Executive Director

Sean updating the Ufirst Project kanban board

Last month, I wrote about a Lean game that I designed to teach teams how to learn from work. To win the game, team members needed to observe work with an eye toward maximizing value. This month, we will look at how we have applied this principle to our testing activities. 

Our transformation project combined three separate HR and payroll organizations and the result is an exceptionally complicated Workday configuration. This complexity informs the integration and analysis of our testing. While there is significantly more detail regarding the resulting Workday configuration, it is beyond this discussion.

Testing, with an eye on our customers’ needs

Taking the perspective of our customers, we decided to give the highest priority to our Benefits, Leave, Payroll, and Integrations areas. Defects or complications in these areas could cause the most significant harm to the largest number of people. The flow from Benefits and Leave into Payroll and out to Integrations (the HR data we share with others) formed the nexus of our strategy. To facilitate communication and avoid team confusion we took the liberty to modify the order of the flow to Benefits, Leave, Integrations, and Payroll. Thus the acronym: BLIP.

The structure needed to test the control of the flow of information across these four areas. Some might suggest that End-to-End testing would be the place to test these flows. Under normal circumstances that would be correct; however, End-to-End testing also captures system functions that could mask specificity in an abundance of detail. Resolution of this problem required us to focus solely on the BLIP flow. Therefore, we created an additional round of testing to do just that.

We created scenarios for each of our numerous employee types that ran each test employee from hire, to benefits election, through to payroll. We developed scenarios to test paid and unpaid leave for a subset of each cohort, and we evaluated the quality of the data that appeared in our integration files at the end of each scenario. The team strategy was to test areas where failure would create an unacceptable user experience. Thus, testing a mock payroll for each employee type was at the top of our list of priorities.

Instead of triggering events artificially, we advanced the payroll, period by period, over the course of the entire upcoming year, taking each test employee from their first paycheck to the last, culminating with the generation of a W-2 at the end of the year for each test employee in the cohort.

Lessons learned that set us up for success

These tests did unearth defects. We were able to correct them before commencing End-to-End testing. Our testing also confirmed the (high) level of quality that we have built into the system. Engaging the team, we earned a welcome side effect: the payroll testing scenarios helped to train the new Payroll team as they ran successful mock-payroll cycles over the course of an entire year. As we enter End-to-End testing, a deeper understanding of this critical work enhances our ability to execute successfully the remaining testing and validation tasks.

Meet Scott Seal, Senior Director, Total Rewards

Scott Seal

Learn more about Scott Seal, Senior Director, Total Rewards.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  I’m really excited to be back in Virginia! I grew up in the Winchester, Virginia, area, so coming to Charlottesville is a little like returning home. In addition, the opportunity to be at UVA and lead the Total Rewards team during the time of HR Service Delivery transformation and the introduction of Workday is really exciting. This is a great opportunity to partner with HR and really deliver something special to our customers and, ultimately, to our community. Plus, integrating Total Rewards initiatives in areas like compensation, benefits, and wellness across UVA will be a very cool and challenging opportunity.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: There’s probably not enough space for this answer … but, I really enjoy spending time with my wife and family, golfing, yard work (yes, I actually like mowing the lawn), fly fishing, hiking, and, finally, brewery/wine tours. We live in Crozet, so having the 151 nearby is very convenient. Also, I was in Austin, Texas, for a while and fell in love with live music.

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: I’m so proud of my wife and family – they are awesome and inspire me every day. Professionally, I have been a part of two HR Service Delivery model changes, and I’m excited to be a part of UVA’s HR strategy. This won’t be easy, but will be worth it for those we serve.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: Tough question … It’s a toss-up between Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” Both are excellent tunes.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: To save up for college, I worked on a farm with a migrant worker crew in Ephrata, Washington. It was an extraordinary experience to be in the field every morning at 5:00 a.m. and to work with such a great group of diverse and interesting folks.

Meet Jennifer Garrett, Senior Director, Talent Recruitment

Jennifer Garrett and family

Learn more about Jennifer Garrett, Senior Director, Talent Recruitment.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  I’m thrilled to be part of such a wonderful team. I’ve lucked out, not just professionally, but personally. My teams are phenomenal people. I’m excited to be a part of the UFirst project and to bring the academic and healthcare sides of the house together.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: My husband and I have two sons and a dog named Lucy. We are most often together outside somewhere. Right now, though, I’m mostly unpacking boxes. We recently relocated to Charlottesville from Atlanta after living there for 18 years, so we’re realizing just how much we’ve accumulated!

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: Aside from being a mother, I would say when I went back for my graduate degree. My son was three and my youngest was a newborn when I graduated.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: I love music festivals and tattoos!

Why Cloud-based Updates Are Better Than Software Upgrades

Hands with gears

Updates and upgrades may seem like the same thing, but Workday’s cloud-based platform allows for smoother operation, saving downtime and IT-related expenses.

Today, Oracle and PeopleSoft upgrades are a time-intensive and costly nightmare for HR, ITS, and end users. Installed software upgrades lead to extended downtime of these systems, preventing faculty, staff and team members from entering time, making pay changes, etc.
With Workday, UVA faculty, staff, and team members will have access to essential HR systems on a more continuous basis. Workday updates its platform every week and delivers two major updates a year. We will still determine when to enable new features, but by delivering small changes on a regular basis, we maximize the availability of the system, allowing all of us to get our work done while ensuring that we are using the most current version of the platform. 

Meet Melissa Frederick, Senior Director of Service, University Operations

Melissa Frederick

Learn more about Melissa Frederick, Senior Director of Service, University Operations.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  This is such a cool time to be at UVA HR with the technology changes, leadership changes, and our own HR transformation. We have a unique opportunity to change how HR is perceived and how work is performed, which will ultimately help both our educational and patient care missions. I have the privilege of leading the business partner group for University Operations and learn new things every day from my team and from the leaders in the University Operations areas.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: I enjoy hiking and trail running with my family and two dogs. We enjoy running 5Ks and travel to participate in those that sound interesting. I have run in the Pickle Run on Tybee Island, the Jungle Jog in Seneca Park, the Pirate Run in Hampton Roads, and am training for a Disney 10K. Regrettably, I missed the Running of the Bananas in Savannah, but I did get to run the Airborne and Special Ops 5K in honor of my father-in-law, who was a paratrooper in WWII.

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: I would say that getting my MBA while my kids were young and I was working full-time. It required a village of support. Thanks to my husband, our parents, and our kids, I was able to complete it in two years. My daughters saw me graduate and understood that they helped me get there – as well as the importance of education.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: I love all kinds of music, and I think that your personal theme songs change during your life, based on what you are facing. Right now, I think it would be “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. We have so much going on at UVA, my youngest is getting ready to go to college, and life is happening around us so fast!

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: My horoscope predicted my move to UVA. That is probably a longer story than this blog would allow. ☺

Meet Jenn Oliver, Senior Director of Service, Academic Division

Photo of Jenn Oliver and her children

Learn more about Jenn Oliver, UVA HR’s Senior Director of Service, Academic Division.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  Since the launch of the Business Partner (BP) function in February, I have been developing the team of BPs for the academic schools and working on many projects related to service. I am particularly excited about working on process efficiencies within their areas in preparation for and alignment with the future of UVA HR. I am thrilled to be on a team of such talented individuals partnering to build out our new UVA HR service model.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: I spend my weekends with family, visiting local vineyards with my husband, Carey, as well as gardening, entertaining, spending time at the gym and, every so often, putting my feet up on the couch with the dog. I am also working on my bucket list as I prepare to have an “empty nest” in the fall. My go-to happy place is the beach!

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: My children: Josh, age 20 and a rising junior at Virginia Tech (yes, we have a Hokie in the house), and Emily, age 17, who will be attending VCU this fall. They bring me so much joy and know how to make their serious mom laugh.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: I listen to so many genres of music and love so many different songs which have special meanings to me at different times, I can’t narrow it down to just one.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: I helped start a crew team in college. It was super fun and I learned a lot about leading a team and negotiating as we had very little funding and purchased our first eight-man boat (shell) from Rutgers.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Cindy Frederick

We are always striving to create a best-in-class HR experience for stakeholders across Grounds. That’s why the Ufirst Project was initiated. So, it is always gratifying when this work is acknowledged. In a recent thank-you note to Kelley Stuck, Cindy Fredrick, AVP in UVA's Office of Engagement, wrote: 

“Over the past two months I have been able to witness firsthand the impact of UVA HR. This spring, the Office of Engagement had the most vacancies at any one time since the office was created in 2006. The level of customer service, professionalism, and expertise has been outstanding. While there are always areas for learning, growth, and improvement, I want to share my gratitude to you and your team. We have worked extensively with Matt Caesar, Chris Cunningham, G.T. Francis, and Ellen Beverly to help us navigate our human resource needs.

“I have been very impressed with the timeliness of requests. On one of our offers, the UVA HR team worked past 5:00 on a Friday to ensure that we had an offer out to a candidate who had another offer on the table. I appreciate the efforts to expand our pool through targeted recruitment. In our search for the UVA Club Director’s position, we now have three finalists from Harvard, Notre Dame, and Duke who have direct experience with regional engagement. And, finally, the professional expertise of your team members has helped us think through strategy, job descriptions, and related personnel issues.

“I know how much it takes to get a new program off the ground. So often, you only hear about what is not working and I wanted to let you know what is working. We look forward to continuing our partnership with University Human Resources.”

[Video] HR Business Partners, Explained


What can an HR Business Partner do for you?
Learn how HR Business Partners will provide dedicated support for your school or unit's unique HR needs in this video:

video with audio description and text transcript


Subscribe to Ufirst RSS