The Ufirst Project


March 10, 2016, 1:37pm

Thank you to our HR Community members who participated in one of the 10 focus groups in December! Over 140 people provided valuable insight that will inform our community building strategy.

What we need

To facilitate trust and build a service oriented HR community we need to foster:

1. Communication

•Identifying easy ways to facilitate getting the right information, to the right people, at the right time with appropriate context.

2. Collaboration and Relatedness

•Getting to know each other – putting faces with names and learning more about each other as people.

•Understanding who in our community does what and where our strengths lie.

•Having comfort and the time to seek and to give help.

•Defining, understanding, and embodying our shared goals as a community.

•Making the building of relationships and collaborating a priority.

3. Professional Enrichment - Outstanding Team Member Experience

•Developing clarity around what is expected of us.

•Having opportunities to learn and to improve, both in terms of easily finding what is available to meet learning needs and making learning a priority.

4. Shared principles and values

•Numerous were discussed, but the most important are accountability, transparency, clarity and respect, all of which will resulting in building an HR community based on trust.

•Sharing a common service-oriented focus and purpose - What is HR’s role in supporting the success of our customers and what does HR need from our customers to partner successfully?  Finding our why to support focus, importance and engagement.

What are our challenges

1. Size and complexity

•Multiple technologies, processes, procedures, and policies that are complex and don’t facilitate good work.

•We are a large group spread out over multiple locations.

2. Communication, feedback and engagement

•Limited avenues to provide feedback and ideas for improvement.  When these are offered, the perception is that there is often a lack of response.

•We are not good at providing or accepting constructive feedback with an eye toward improvement.

•Lack of transparency around the sharing of information and more specifically the reason why decisions are made.

•Inconsistent and insufficient communication of information needed to be successful in our jobs.

•Lack of appreciation for contributions and celebration of successes.

•Healthy dose of skepticism around improvement based on experiences and previous change project history.

3. Working together

•Rightsizing workload and getting manager support, as it can be difficult at times to get away from our desks to focus on learning and collaboration to build trust and foster community.

•Lack of clarity around job expectations.

•Lack of consistent accountability in multiple directions – among HR practitioners, between managers and employees, between customers and HR practitioners, etc.

•Working in silos and not always focusing on the greater good for the University.

•Lack of understanding of the HR role and lack of assumption of good intent.

What we have

•There is much optimism in support of change.

•There is a desire to focus on service excellence and purpose.

•There are already collaborative ventures across all three partners – Temp Services, Benefits, and Compliance and Immigration among them.

•There are work groups all around grounds who already communicate and collaborate well.

Next Steps

•Drafting and finalizing the community building plan based on these great ideas and input and integrating it into the change management process to support successful implementation.



February 2, 2016, 3:56pm

Event recap

On Wednesday, January 13, the Ufirst Community team hosted a first-of-its-kind event for HR professionals at the University. This inaugural gathering marked the first in a series of events designed to develop interconnectedness amongst HR practitioners across the Health System and Academic Division.Over 150 HR professionals gathered at the Curry School of Education from 3:00—5:00 p.m. The informational event provided a high-level overview of the Ufirst project and team members presented key highlights including how the project will effect each of us, our customers, and our organizations. Attendees asked thoughtful questions, networked with peers, and provided valuable feedback. If you were unable to attend the HR Community event, or would like to re-familiarize yourself with the afternoon’s highlights, a brief summary is provided below.

Hear from our Executive Sponsors!

Event activities

During the event, two group activities were conducted:

• Dealing with change exercise: Asked participants to identify reactions to change that they have experienced or observed in the workplace.
• Positive outcomes exercise: Focused on helping the HR Community better understand the benefits of Ufirst.

These activities encouraged participants to explore their feelings about change. Resources about how to deal with change and tips on how to prepare for the future were provided, as well.

Here’s what we learned...

Thank you to the over 110 attendees who completed the event feedback survey form. We appreciate your engagement and your thoughtful responses. Below is what we heard: Most practitioners learned about Ufirst from their managers and from the Ufirst website. Over 65% of practitioners understand the Ufirst project and the benefits it will bring to HR professionals, the organization, and those HR serves. 50% of the HR Community is excited and optimistic about the Ufirst change. The vast majority of attendees indicated they enjoyed the opportunity to network with their peers. They also indicated they would like similar events in the future.

What’s next

We will continue to share Ufirst information in traditional ways such as email and via the web, but we are continuously researching new forms of communication. Stayed tuned for upcoming events and exciting news regarding the Ufirst initiative as it moves from the design to implementation phase.

HR practitioners networked with their colleagues and learned more about the Ufirst project.

HR practitioners networked with their colleagues and learned more about the Ufirst project.

Ellen Missana, HR Director at the Curry School of Education, leading a “positive outcome exercise” with HR personnel.

Ellen Missana, HR Director at the Curry School of Education, leading a “positive outcome exercise” with HR personnel.

December 4, 2015, 11:18am

The Technology team completed its mapping and inventory of all HRIT systems across the University - including the Academic Division and Health System - and conducted usability testing of existing systems. Initial system requirements were determined and Requests for Information (RFIs) have been distributed to potential vendors. Demonstrations and feedback sessions will be conducted upon evaluation of RFI responses in early 2016, after which requirements can be finalized and a technology solution recommended.

Milestones to date

  • Completed data and systems mapping and an enterprise-wide IT systems inventory
  • Complete usability testing of employees and users in the Medical Center, Academic Division, and UPG
    • Based on the results of this testing, we have improved the user experience by modifying various website links to improve navigation (less “clicks” to reach the destination) and providing better notifications about browser compatibility.
  • Drafted an initial set of requirements
  • Distributed an initial Request for Information (RFI) containing over 120 questions to five vendors

Next steps

  • Await and evaluate responses to RFI
  • Facilitate vendor demonstrations and feedback sessions
  • Finalize requirements, issue definitive procurement request

Evaluate responses, recommend solution(s) for implementation

November 20, 2015, 11:17am

This fall the HR Community team spoke with over 100 colleagues from the Health System and Academic Division. These energizing conversations uncovered a host of ideas related to what defines a great community, including those values the community holds dear. 

The HR Community team wishes to thank everyone for their participation and encourages them to continue to share great ideas and participate in Ufirst, the HR Strategic Design Initiative.

Here, for your enjoyment, are just a few of the fantastic definitions of ‘community’ generated by our colleagues:

Community defined

  • Coming together with local peers who share common interests to achieve a goal.
  • Trustworthiness, transparency, integrity.  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
  • Collaboration - always know where to go to get answers and people ready to work with you; strong customer service - make sure our reputation around grounds is good; clarity - clear policies that make it easier for us to do our job and customers to understand things - who is doing what. Simplify.
  • When I think about community, I think about supporting one another in an encouraging, non-critical, team spirited way. We need to be able to lean on and reply on each other for ideas, advice, and help during this massive change. 
  • Related and connected. Common ideals and values that we stand for together. Takes all employee ideas and input into consideration. People that care about each other. Everyone appreciates each other’s background, expertise and unique contributions. Events that help to connect community members.
  • “Best practices” are recognized and shared. Best tools are available to all.
  • Trust among peers, leadership, and customers.

Values in a word

Accessibility, Collaboration, Collegial, Commitment, Common purpose, Comradery, Communication, Competence, Consistency, Constantly improving, Customer focus, Efficiency, Engagement, Equity, Fairness, Hard work (do your best),  Honesty, Inclusive, Integrity, Leadership, Listen without bias, Loyalty, Open minded, Positive attitude, Recognition, Respect, Service, Shared vision, Simplicity, Strategic, Synergy, Teamwork, Timely, Transparency, Trust/ trustworthiness, Understanding, Unity

October 15, 2015, 12:16pm

Dear UVa Community Members:

In early 2015, we began a journey to transform the way Human Resource (HR) services are delivered to faculty and staff across the Academic Division, the Medical Center, and University Physicians Group (UPG). The HR strategic design initiative is grounded in the voices of those individuals who receive HR services–our faculty and staff, and assumes that you, the user of HR services, are at the heart of the future state model.

The HR transformation has already begun and will occur over several years. Between now and the project’s completion, you can expect to see both incremental and punctuated improvements to HR processes, policies, and systems.

The strategic initiative is led by a project team comprised of: Susan Carkeek, the Academic Division’s VP and Chief Human Resources Officer; John Boswell, Chief Human Resources Office of the Medical Center; and Sarah Collie, Assistant Vice President of Organizational Excellence and supported by external consultants Ernst & Young. A project management office (PMO), led by a seasoned project director (search currently underway), will also be established.

Seven work teams will support the project director. These teams, their leads, and a brief description of their primary objectives are below:

1. Governance: Maggie Harden, Provost’s Office and Brenda Jarrell, UPG; review the current state of HR; develop the future-state HR organizational design; partner with existing Policy Committees to understand review processes; inventory policies and assess differences; establish criteria identify and prioritize HR policy changes.

2. Service Delivery Design: Lisa Cannell, Darden and Bryan Garey, UHR; understand current state operations, programs and leading practices; identify HR Service Delivery requirements to support technology solutions and define the interaction between service delivery components.

3. Technology: Michael Latsko, UHR and Teresa Wimmer, ITS; help the organization imagine new possibilities and capabilities with state-of-the-art technology; define the future-state HR technology architecture; prepare data and systems for implementation.

4. Process: Jenn Oliver, School of Medicine and Mary Brackett, Organizational Excellence; develop future-state HR processes and align roles; link HR activities to service delivery model components.

5. Change Management: Tamara Fleming, UHR; establish and implement communications strategy and methods; determine the impact of planned changes; and work closely with project teams to prepare the HR community for changes to come.

6. HR Business Services for HR: Barbara Kessler, School of Continuing and Professional Studies and Robin Fisher, School of Medicine; identify the current service areas needed for HR practitioners to be effective, understanding current state operations and leading practices; identify the future-state HR service areas.

7. Community: Ellen Missana, Curry and Brian Gittens, School of Medicine; establish a dynamic and healthy HR culture by fostering a sense of HR community and redefining expectations for people that engage with HR across Grounds.

Key project priorities for the remainder of this year include: designing HR services and delivery models and high-level processes; assessing technology needs and the selection of a solution; assisting the organization in navigating the change associated with such an effort; and, building a united HR community.

We are excited about the project and its potential benefits to our faculty and staff, as the initiative will eventually impact everyone on both the receiving and providing end of HR services. We ask that you join us in supporting this initiative by providing relevant thoughts and concerns to the project leadership team, PMO (to be established), or team leads. Some of you will be asked to participate in design sessions as the various teams undertake their work. Together we can make our employment experience as distinctive and exceptional as our student experience.

Additional project information, including a website, is forthcoming.



Patrick D. Hogan
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Richard P. Shannon, M.D.
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs

Anda L. Webb
Vice Provost for Administration