The Ufirst Project

Meet Your Workday Partners!

Workday Partner Kickoff 2.14.18

Workday Partner Kickoff meeting on February 14, 2018

Introducing Workday Partners
On Wednesday, February 14, over 100 Workday Partners stepped away from their Valentines and assembled together to participate in a kickoff meeting. Meeting attendees commented that they felt like they left with a better understanding about Workday. Workday Partners were impressed by its power and ease of use and were excited to learn more. Workday love was in the air!


What is a Workday Partner?
Workday Partners are school and business unit representatives from across the University who have volunteered to serve as local resources who can help if you have questions about Workday. Your Workday Partner will keep you up-to-date on the Workday implementation, help you navigate upcoming changes, and answer your questions about the new technology. In order to best serve you, Workday Partners will attend multiple training sessions, learn new processes, test training materials, and provide feedback.


Find your Workday Partner
Have a question? Find the Workday Partner assigned to your school, unit, or department.

Ufirst and UVA HR team up for a Finance Leadership Retreat

opening slide that says Finance Leadership Retreat

Melody Bianchetto, Vice President of Finance, hosted a leadership retreat and invited Ufirst project team members and UVA HR professionals to share ideas and experiences on “Leading Through Change.”



  • Gary Helmuth, HR Business Partner for Finance, developed content that would meet the team’s need for more information on Change, Performance Management, and Goal Setting.
  • James Gorman, newly appointed Senior Director of Finance, presented his experiences with large transformation efforts.
  • Carrie Baker, future UVA HR Performance Management team member, talked about Goal Setting.
  • Rose Markey, future UVA Learning and Development team member, facilitated a discussion about surviving change.


What we heard from presenters:

“This was a great opportunity to showcase how HR Business Partners will collaborate with network of HR professionals to support schools/units across UVA.” 


What we heard from attendees:

“This was more than I had hoped for -- I thought it would be a little theoretical and hard to connect to, but it was way more practical and realistic and helpful than I had imagined it might be. Good job.”


Please remember that the Ufirst project team and UVA HR are here to support you during this time of unprecedented change.



A Secure Future

Data storage unit with secure fence

Image Source: EY Branding Zone

Your Data Security

  • Workday maintains a formal and comprehensive security program designed to ensure the security and integrity of data, protect against security threats or data breaches, and prevent unauthorized access to the data- Workday continuously updates safeguarding mechanisms to maintain the highest security.
  • Workday is not allowed to move or store UVA data anywhere outside the United States.
  • Faculty, Staff, and Team Members will access Workday with dual authentication using DUO.

From the Desk of Sean Jackson: Welcome to the Blog!

Sean Jackson, Ufirst Executive Director

Sean updating the Ufirst Project kanban board

Welcome to the blog! During the next few months we will be exploring topics regarding Workday and our HR Transformation. I hope to share with you things that we have learned during the last several months that will be helpful in navigating successfully the upcoming changes. As we complete the launch of our new UVA HR and Payroll organizations in parallel with the deployment of the Workday system, we will be bringing to culmination nearly three years of work that has touched every area of the University.

Perhaps the most important lesson that we have learned through this time is that we are more alike than we are different. While there is comfort and solace in the recognition of our similarities, the real treasure is to be found through the respectful exploration of those areas where we differ. This type of exploration can be difficult to establish and maintain, however, especially when there are risks, constraints and uncertainty in play. Trust is critical to overcoming these obstacles and this is why we have worked hard to establish and build trust during our journey with you. Have we always been successful? Not always. Trust can be hard to come by in our culture here at UVA. Please know that we remain committed to building trust because it is so vital to our collective success—both in terms of the Ufirst program but also, and more importantly, beyond it.

Quote from Tony Bennett, UVA Men's Head Basketball Coach: Our word in the locker room before the game was just trust.


I would suggest that any meaningful journey of change proceeds by means of reasoned trust, not blind faith. In fact, I have been reminded by several colleagues on different occasions of the old Russian proverb, “Trust but verify.” Next month, we will consider how a commitment to continuous improvement will enable us to bring life to this proverb.

Let's Remember "Why"

Dr. Richard Shannon addresses Ufirst team leads at a planning retreat

Ufirst Project Team Lead Retreat, August 2015

The Ufirst HR Transformation Project began with a hypothesis in the summer of 2015 – we could improve the delivery of administrative services across the University.

What began as the Hackett benchmarking study across multiple functions soon proved that we needed to explore this hypothesis. While there were many options, UVA intentionally chose to focus on Human Resources (HR).  The rationale came down to this:

  • The faculty, staff, and team member experience was essential to the UVA mission
  • The current HR experience left much to be desired


photo of a Ufirst event at Bavaro Hall to host the UVA Community and explain the project

Ufirst Community Kickoff January 2016

We understood that data alone wouldn’t mean anything if we did not genuinely engage the University community in “co-building” a shared vision for UVA HR. From this understanding came a small project known as the HR Strategic Design Initiative, which evolved over the course of the next 18 months into the large-scale Ufirst Project. The need for change was clear:

  • Getting basic HR work done was harder than it should be
  • There were sometimes more than 15 ways to do the same HR task and all were complicated
  • Many HR teams struggled to keep pace with the volume of work in their schools and units
  • The HR technology was painful to maintain and the user experience was worse
  • The quality of HR data was very poor and answering basic HR questions took weeks
  • There was growing distrust between “central HR” and the schools and units
  • There was minimal sharing of good HR practices across Grounds
  • Finger pointing and unhelpful behaviors heightened the pain/frustration felt around HR services
  • The cost of HR was growing rapidly while the perceived value of HR was falling faster

As the reasons “why” were compelling, the attention of the University then shifted to answering the question of “what” – what would great HR look like?  The answer to that question, we needed to work across Grounds in uncommon ways:

  • The Academic Division, Medical Center, and University Physicians Group worked across entities and degrees of codified autonomy on a shared vision for HR
  • The voice of Deans, Administrative Associate Deans, faculty members, and Health System executives were as important to the design as the perspective of HR 
  • Equal respect was paid to both how you get to the answer (inclusive approach essential in the Academic Division) and the quality of the answer (outcome focus in the Health System)
  • HR leaders from central units (UHR, MC HR, and UPG HR) worked hand-in-hand with HR leaders embedded in the schools and units


Ufirst Project Subject Matter Resource Session

Subject Matter Resource Session, December 2016

After multiple design sessions and countless hours of spirited debate (yes, even CavMan was in on the action), design principles and agreement on the service delivery components became the building blocks for the future:

  • A single HR leadership team that serves the Academic and Health System divisions
  • An HR solution center that is the transactional engine and quality & innovation hub
  • A set of centers of expertise to provide specialized HR services to the University
  • The introduction of HR service partners who will solve the most complex people issues across Grounds
  • The investment in contemporary, cloud-based HR technology to enhance the delivery of HR services

The Ufirst team thanks all faculty, staff, and team members at the University for their hard work and dedication over the past 3 years. While no one thought it would be easy, the belief that it would be worth it kept everyone going. It is remarkable to think that the original vision for great HR at UVA will be a reality in a few short months!

Creating a Workday that Works for You

Usability testing photo


The Ufirst project recently partnered with the ITS User Experience & Engagement team to conduct usability testing to learn more about UVA staff and team members’ experience with Workday.


Why is usability important?

Usability means that a tool is quick and easy to learn, efficient to use, allows rapid recovery from errors, and is easy to remember.  When software is successfully designed with these characteristics users will be satisfied (and not frustrated), will enjoy interacting with the tool, will achieve their goals efficiently, and will cultivate confidence and trust in the tool.


Workday Usability Testing at UVA

The Workday usability testing focused specifically on the employee self-service experience across the University. We asked seven staff and team members from the Academic Division, the Medical Center, and the University Physicians Group (UPG) to complete 10 tasks – tasks included changing a phone number, updating direct deposit info, viewing current health benefits, requesting time off, submitting a time card, and finding a co-workers phone number.

Testers completed these tasks with no training or direction while "thinking aloud" as the team listened, observed, and learned.  The testers were able to complete 83% of the tasks successfully.  They reported that Viewing their Profile was the easiest thing to do and Updating Direct Deposit information was the hardest – providing excellent guidance on where to focus improvements and training.

graphic over the tasks users were asked to complete during testing

What the Testers said

“The new technology is amazing. Having everything in one place makes it very comprehensive and I really like being able to use a directory to find my coworkers.” – Associate General Counsel, UPG

“Workday offers some incredibly good ideas and I think the ability to provide common information to multiple sources is fantastic. I also love the org chart and time off entry.” - Physician and Faculty Member


Opportunities for Improvement

A snapshot of the feedback includes:

  • Add the word “Home” to the top navigation
  • Change the “Payment Elections” button label to “Direct Deposit”
  • Make the Performance Management functionality easier to find
  • Preload Emergency Contact information or reduce the number of required fields
  • Make it clear that timesheet data is being saved

As we continue on the Ufirst HR Transformation journey there will be many changes and much to learn about the new HR processes, Service Delivery model, and HR team members supporting you in addition to the new technology.  We are pleased that Workday receives high scores in usability, making the benefits of the new HR that much easier to attain.

Workday In Action

Workday logo

Cut the cord on your desktop and go mobile with Workday!

Here's what you need to know:

  • Workday can be accessed through mobile devices including iPad, iPhone, and Andriod. Now you can access live data and interact with Workday on the go.
  • You can change personal information like emergency contacts, address, phone numbers, view detailed pay stubs and much more.
  • You can request time off or enter your time. (note: Medical Center, Facilities, and Parking and Transportation will continue to use their current time tracking systems)
  • As a manager, you can stay current on applicants for your job postings, access your dashboard reports, and approve tasks within your Inbox.
  • Now you can do your work on the go!



graphic showing Workday Mobile

Come Play with Workday!

graphic including numbers of sessions, participants, and surveys

Members of the HR Community are busy attending Workday demonstration sessions that allow them to actually experience the new technology. Each one hour session provides a brief overview of Workday, an activity showcasing how intuitive Workday is, and a quick debrief. 


So, what are people saying after attending? 

  • “Overall, I am excited for the new system. This session and the other preview session I went to were more self-service/manager self-service items so I'm looking forward to seeing how other actions (creating a new position, posting a faculty position, hiring students) will work.”
  • “Super-intuitive.”
  • “Breath of fresh air compared to Oracle. WOW!”
  • “Very user friendly! Love that there are multiple ways to do things”
  • “The "scavenger hunt" at the end was definitely useful for showing how easy it is to navigate and use the search functionality in Workday.”


How did participants rate satisfaction after using Workday?

99% Agree or Strongly Agree


What’s Next?

The next opportunity to learn more about Workday is at the February Preview and Feedback sessions(add link).  Join us there to see Workday in action.


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