The Ufirst Project


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Ufirst FAQ

What is Ufirst?

The Ufirst project is leading the transformation of Human Resources at the University of Virginia and implementing a new, best-in-class HR technology. The goal of the Ufirst project is to improve the way everyone experiences HR at UVA. 

Current HR functions across Grounds will come together to align standard work, share best practices, create common processes, and deliver HR services consistently and efficiently - providing all faculty, staff, and team members with a better workplace experience.


What parts of the University are involved in the initiative?

Ufirst is for all of the University of Virginia— the Academic Division, the College at Wise, and the Health System, including the Medical Center, University Physicians Group (UPG), and the School of Medicine.


Why did UVA launch Ufirst?

The need for transforming Human Resources at UVA has never been stronger. Currently UVA faces:

  • Inconsistent service experience
  • 70+ disjointed systems that collect HR data and six different learning management systems across three entities
  • 20+ employee categories governed by 152 HR policies
  • An increasingly competitive market for new talent
  • Systemic inefficiencies and redundancies


Who is guiding this initiative?


The Ufirst project team has many contributors adding to the success of this transformation:

  • HR Community Circle shares information on HR Operations and Ufirst to enable and empower all members of our UVA HR Community.
  • Executive Sponsors champion the project and are accountable for securing buy-in from the community through executive level sponsorship.
  • Strategic Operations Committee is the steering committee accountable for aligning Ufirst with the strategic direction and operational requirements of the Academic Division, Medical Center, UPG, and College at Wise.
  • Transformation Management Office ensures that the Ufirst project deploys the right resources to deliver the project on time, and on budget, to the satisfaction of HR partners. 
  • Voice of the Customer helps the Ufirst project stay centered on the service experience and represent the needs of stakeholders across-Grounds.
  • Ufirst project teams provide expertise and oversight. They design, review, and approve process improvement and technical decisions.


How is the Ufirst project team developing the UVA HR organization, processes, and activities?  What steps will be taken to ensure that our HR organization is best in class?

The Ufirst project is continuously collaborating with nearly 200 subject matter resources, in a variety of formats, to provide input and feedback into the design of the HR organization.  This network of resources enables the project team to make decisions, in a transparent way, with much input from members of the UVA community including:

  • HR directors and leaders across the institution
  • Health System leadership
  • Academic Leadership
  • University HR Leadership
  • HR professionals with subject matter expertise


Will there be opportunities to get involved?

Yes! Ufirst is a complex project and will not be successful without wide perspectives and input. The Ufirst project team will make it a priority to collect feedback and will rely on the insights of HR community across the University. There will be multiple ways to contribute.


Where can I go if I have questions about Ufirst?

You may submit any Ufirst related questions and comments to the Ufirst project team.

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Will there be an opportunity to revisit the organizational structure and job descriptions within the next 12-18 months to ensure our structure/function and job roles match business needs and lessons learned from the integration?

We welcome and support the ideas and philosophies of a continuous improvement model. Feedback continues to be fundamental to the optimization of HR.


Will Classified Employees have to convert to University staff?

No. A Classified Employee will not be required to convert to the University Staff system.


What inputs were considered to determine the number, ratio, and levels of HR Business Partners for each school / unit? 

Inputs included information from the school / unit regarding the complexity and volume of their work, the breakdown of employee types doing that work, and known historical volumes in hiring and employee relation cases; the team considered industry benchmark data when available. When grouping schools / units, in addition to the factors mentioned before, the team evaluated current relationships between schools / units, cultural affinities, geography, and feedback.


What were the key factors in making Business Partner determinations?

The key factors in making Business Partner determinations centered on the ability to provide continued quality and service as well as meeting the needs of our customers. Hiring decisions were jointly made by the Senior Directors of Service and customer representatives.


Do the yellow dots on the HR Business Partner organizational chart mean that other HR Business Partners will report to them?

Yes, the HR Business Partner Lead positions will be management-level positions that oversee the work of the HR Business Partners in their area. This leadership role will help to coordinate HR Business Partner capacity and volume of work, backup and service delivery to the schools / units in their area, and will work closely with HR leadership and the Chief HR Officer.


What area of the organizational chart handles FMLA?

The HR Solution Center will address FMLA matters. The HR Solution Center team will work closely with Employee Relations as needed.


Where are non-paid employees and volunteers managed?

Information is forthcoming as the work and processes needed for this group are finalized.


What area of the organizational chart handles student hiring?        

The Talent Flexibility function will handle wage hiring and student hiring.


The new organizational chart shows fewer FTEs than current-state.  How can we offer more services but with fewer people?

The new HR structure, technology, and associated process improvements will significantly improve the time and effort required for many activities, allowing HR to deliver more services. Testing of these assumptions will continue in collaboration with schools / units over the coming months. Some of the work done in current-state may need to remain in the unit, but will not be performed by HR. The goal is to ensure that staffing in each school / unit is appropriate.


What is the difference between Benefits in the HR Solution Center and Benefits in the IMPACT group?

The IMPACT group is strategically focused and responsible for all benefit and wellness program design, campaigns, benefit and wellness plan administration, financial oversight and reporting, and vendor / provider relationships. IMPACT also acts as a final escalation point. For example, deciding if UVA will make an exception to a plan.

The HR Solution Center’s Benefits, Leave, and Payroll team is focused on resolving the questions and concerns of our faculty, staff, and team members.  


Will there be an official ombudsman?

The trained benefits counselors in the HR Solution Center will deal with difficult, personal situations and serve the role of an ombudsman. There will be an escalation model to ensure that more difficult, complex situations are resolved as quickly as possible. 


What does “Academic Range” mean vs “Market Hiring Range” on the Market Range spreadsheet?

Since we now have confirmation that Agency 207 (Academic Division) will be the employment home for HR, we have updated the salary range information. The ranges reflect both the traditional University salary bands as well as the market hiring range so that employees are aware of the full salary potential. The Market Hiring Range is the range in which people hired into the position are expected to be placed. The Academic Range reflects the full salary range available for growth.


How were salary ranges determined considering we are merging varying industries such as healthcare, academic and others, where pay varies by industry?

A third-party resource analyzed salary data and recommend the salary ranges for all HR positions. The data used was “all-industry” salary data, since UVA HR roles will serve both academic and health care industries. In addition, the third-party resource considered the size and complexity of UVA.



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