Looking for cost-saving tips? Animal Care Services has a few ideas that may help you
Throughout the year, our budgets can feel stretched. Finding opportunities to leverage your budget can create savings to support research and learning. In this issue, Lorna Marshall, Director of Finance at Animal Care Services (ACS), shares her experience of how a little ingenuity from within the department resulted in cost savings and allowed the department to offset costs otherwise charged to researchers.
“Many of our cost-saving initiatives are not top-down, they were suggested from front-line staff and managers,” says Lorna. “ACS staff are encouraged to suggest ways to save costs and streamline procedures so that we can pass on savings to researchers.”
Some recent examples include:
Consolidating procurement to gain discounts and reduce freight costs, such as grouped shipments.
Breaking down silos between units to share staff and reduce the need for overtime.
Ongoing comparison of options for the best-cost alternative. For example, when ACS upgraded their eSirius computer system, they opted to purchase tablets rather than expensive hand-held scanners to collect animal census information.
Creating an equipment inventory for ACS-operated buildings which allowed, among other outcomes, to move underutilized equipment between facilities.
If you’re interested in learning more about any of these topics, contact Lorna Marshall.
Consider how you can work with your department in other innovative ways to stretch your budget. If you have cost-saving tips, let us know and we’ll feature them in an upcoming newsletter.
A quick link directory of Finance & Operations’ services and tools
The Finance & Operations portfolio provides a wide range of services and tools to UBC. Visit our new online A-Z directory for a quick alphabetical overview of high-level topics linked to the unit websites.
If you have topic you would like to add to the directory or have noticed an error, please email email@example.com.
Building Operations launches on Twitter: @UBCFixMySpace
Building Operations is here to help keep spaces on the Vancouver campus working for you. As a faculty or staff member you’re accustomed to engaging your building administrator or submitting an online service request to fix or improve your workspace.
But what about when you’re just passing through a strange building or see something outside that needs attention? Now students, visitors, or faculty and staff on the go can tweet us with the location and issue—and we’ll get it fixed.
For the spaces you work in or are responsible for, we ask that faculty, staff, and administrators continue using PeopleSoft Service Request tool as this is the best way to issue requests and track their status.
Emergency? Anyone can call the Service Centre directly at 604.822.2173 for emergencies such as gas leaks, floods, or blackouts.
The Finance Support Program ensures decision makers have strong financial information and support
Department administrators and finance staff need to know a lot to provide the best advice and service to their customers. To support these individuals, the Finance Support Program was developed to promote consistent practices relating to budgeting, reporting, and transaction processing across the campus.
The program—10 brief online modules and a reference guide—provides overviews of systems, processes and recommended best practices. Get started today on the Training section on the UBC Finance website.
You might be a supervisor… and not even know it!
Who’s a supervisor at UBC? According to Risk Management Services (RMS) and WorkSafeBC, the answer may not be so obvious. We all know when someone officially reports to us, but WorkSafeBC holds everyone to a higher standard when it comes to occupational health and safety.
RMS shares that anyone—including non-managers, researchers, or faculty—who instructs, directs, and controls another person in the workplace is considered a supervisor by WorkSafeBC. The person does not need to be a direct report—or even in your department. Given this definition, who are you supervising?
Changes to procurement reduces cycle times for creating purchase orders and paying invoices
To improve procurement at UBC, we have implemented changes in central Procure-to-Pay processes to reduce cycle times for creating purchase orders and paying invoices. We have also reduced the university’s standard payment terms for vendors from 45 to 30 days.
The next phase of the project will include engaging with faculty and department users to identify incremental process improvements, ensure requests are complete, and further reduce cycle times. We will develop a longer-term strategy to implement technology solutions to make procurement easy, seamless and automated.
Joint Health and Safety Committee transitions set to begin pilot in Building Operations and Student Housing and Hospitality Services
In order to enhance our safety culture, UBC is redesigning our University Health and Safety Committee (UHSC). Starting in April, Risk Management Services (RMS) will pilot a new structure with Building Operations, Energy & Water Services, and Student Housing and Hospitality Services (SHHS)—departments whose work puts them at higher risk for safety issues. Once the pilot is completed, the transition will take place across UBC, completing on November 1, 2017.
Through this program, RMS will be helping the Vancouver campus move from one large UHSC—which covers the entire campus and its diverse employee groups—to a cluster of smaller Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committees “JOHSC,” which will cover each employee group within a single VP’s portfolio. Each JOHSC will report their safety recommendations up through revised structures under one of our VPs.
People who want to steal your information can be clever. There has been a dramatic increase in phishing emails over the years and it’s important to be able to spot a suspicious email that’s angling to steal your information. The most common information security breaches are due to unintended disclosures and hacking or malware, often originating from phishing emails. Currently, the higher education industry accounts for 17% of all data breaches, second only to the medical industry with 27%*.
A recent example occurred when a Canadian university was forced to pay around $20,000 in ransom after falling prey to a devastating malware attack, likely originating from a spear-phishing message. These types of messages appear to come from a trusted source and are sent to large numbers of random email addresses. Eventually, someone will take the bait. How can you spot a phishing email? Watch out for emails with these top signs:
Sense of urgency and time constraint
Requests to verify passwords or credit card numbers
PDF attachments from businesses
Poor grammar and spelling
Links or email addresses that don’t look quite right
New equipment and new helping hands for snow and ice
In response to the December snow events, Building Operations recognized that UBC needed some new tools to help prevent build-up of snow and ice on sidewalks and narrow pathways. UBC has purchased small brining units to fit on our small Kubota tractors, which can be used between buildings and on narrow walkways. Now brine can be spread before the snow falls or before a heavy overnight frost to prevent the snow and ice from sticking, which assists with clearing and encourages quicker melting.
Equipment is important, but it also takes a huge effort to clear all of the campus walkways. To create a more flexible response, a volunteer team of staff was recruited to be available for overtime call-outs. This team includes utility workers, custodial staff and trades people who can shore up the municipal team when they’re stretched. The team really helped at the beginning of February when two major snowfalls hit the Vancouver campus. Building Operations was able to deploy a large workforce and address snow and ice on the campus’ primary walking routes.
Jodi Scott and the Facilities Planning team help learning through the use of space
The next time you step into a classroom at UBC, you might be surprised by what you see. At first glance, you might not even realize you’re in a classroom; however, it’s likely that you’ve simply entered one of UBC’s new learning spaces, planned by Jodi Scott and the team in Infrastructure Development, Facilities Planning. Learn more about Jodi and Facilities Planning at Working at UBC.
For the record
Seismic upgrades at UBC
Infrastructure Development is creating a prioritized action plan for each at-risk building on the Vancouver campus using the work of UBC’s seismic researchers as well as the most current thinking in seismic engineering, building resilience, and business continuity. With a campus the size of a small city, each step of our plan will take some time to accomplish, but UBC is dedicated to protecting our students, faculty and staff and keeping UBC a leading centre of research and knowledge preservation. Read more on the Infrastructure Development website.
T4/T4A statements are now available on line
Faculty, staff, and student employees can now download their 2016 T4/T4A statements for their tax returns via the Faculty and Staff Self-Service portal. How to download your statement:
Log in to the Faculty and Staff Self-Service portal at www.msp.ubc.ca, using your Campus-Wide Login (CWL). If you are off-campus, you will need to connect using VPN.
Click on HRMS Self-Service.
In the My Pay column of the screen, select Year End Slips to access your statement for the current and previous years. If you have not previously accessed your slip(s) online, you will be required to acknowledge a consent agreement.
For more information on your taxes or obtaining your tax slips, please visit the UBC Finance website.
Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility continues to highlight UBC’s innovation
UBC’s Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility (BRDF) is the first facility of its kind in North America. The system processes 2-3 truckloads of renewable biomass—ground and chipped waste wood from sawmill residuals, municipal trimmings, land clearing operations, and UBC’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest. The gasification process uses the waste wood to produce a synthetic gas, which is combusted to generate hot water for heating our buildings.
The system reduces UBC’s reliance on fossil fuels and eliminates 14% of campus greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, a 2MW cogeneration engine uses Renewable Natural Gas to generate over 5% of the power for our electrical grid, while the waste heat is similarly used for heating our buildings.
While the facility has been in operation since 2012, the BRDF continues to receive attention as a Campus as a Living Laboratory project, integrating UBC’s core academic mandate of research and teaching with our district infrastructure and business operations. From hydrogen and fuel cell research to community scale heat and power systems, there are many unique research opportunities underway at the BRDF.
Power outage—a great test of our emergency response
While power outages are inconvenient for the campus, they do provide for a great test of our emergency response. On Monday, February 6th, at 11:15 a.m., the Vancouver campus experienced a power outage. The campus’ VOIP phones were still working and calls began coming into the Building Operations Service Centre and Facility Managers’ cell phones right away.
In the event of a power outage, Building Operations usually uses a text messaging service to swiftly notify and disseminate information to a campus outage contact list. However, it was quickly determined that the text messaging service wasn’t working, so we divided up the list and, within two minutes, all key personnel were contacted. Facilities Managers and Building Operations managers assembled in the Departmental Emergency Operations activation meeting and began to triage the communications and response efforts.
Meanwhile, the High Voltage Electrical team was at the main substation to assess the cause of the outage. They quickly concluded that the transformer had tripped and reset itself along with the subsequent feeds. Power was restored within about 40 minutes. As with all power bumps and outages, many systems on campus needed to be reset and Building Operations staff spent the next few hours attending to multiple buildings to restore all systems.
From VP Andrew Simpson
Budgeting to enable renewal
The development of the Budget for 2017/18 has been underway for the past several months. The process has culminated recently in presentations and discussions with President Ono, the Executive, the Senate Budget Committee, Heads and Directors, Deans and AVPs, and Students. From these conversations, budget allocations are now being finalized in the University’s Budget Report which will be presented to the Board of Governors in April.
Overall, the University has achieved a positive financial base for the future—despite many of the challenges we face in meeting the growing costs of our teaching, research, and support activities. It is pleasing to see the wide number of new initiatives across the campus that will be newly resourced in the year ahead.
One of the important initiatives we’ll be hearing a lot more from this year is Privacy Matters @ UBC. This month, this newsletter features a reminder from our partners in IT and RMS of our need to be ever more vigilant of emails that aim to compromise our personal information and cause damage to the systems and technologies that underpin UBC.
I have been astonished at the level of creativity and targeting in the design of many of these illicit emails, which have caused the disablement of the systems of a number of our peer institutions. Our teaching, research, student engagement, and administration increasingly relies on the quality and continuity of these systems and technologies, which these ‘phishing’ emails attempt to undermine. Thank you for your ongoing attention to information security.
In another inspirational initiative, this week many in our community have attended workshops discussing and demonstrating the potential new system associated with the SASI project. A new Student Administrative System is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to renew and reimagine the key interactions and processes that underpin a significant portion of the University’s academic and student life.
Other systems and technologies need similar renewal to improve the quality of faculty and staff’s experience working at UBC. It is pleasing to see the progress of our procurement and payment processes, and there will be opportunities to achieve even more with future systems renewal.
I also want to note a few thanks. We have all experienced a challenging winter, with snow and ice that have hampered access to and from the campus, as well as our daily navigation around the campus. I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of the teams within Building Operations—and other teams—who have so tirelessly worked to keep the campus open and accessible during these difficult days and weeks. I know a number of our staff have at times stayed overnight on campus in order to be working in the earliest hours of the morning readying the campus for the next day. Even so, it was often a struggle to stay ahead of some of the most challenging weather. Please accept my enormous thanks for your work!
As well, this newsletter continues to include a wide range of interesting and important matters. I am most grateful for the team that have been curating and producing the information and stories that help inform and celebrate our work at this remarkable University.
Feature Building Project
Make a splash at the new UBC Aquatic Centre
Infrastructure Development is proud to have worked with Athletics & Recreation and UBC Properties Trust to deliver UBC Vancouver’s new Aquatic Centre, a state-of-the-art facility to serve athletic training, competition, and neighbourhood leisure needs. Whether you’re learning to swim or going for Olympic Gold, the new UBC Aquatic Centre was built for you. This 8,000-square-metre facility offers year-round aquatics programming for adults, youth, and tots of all ages and abilities, as well as drop-in swimming. The facility’s natatorium can accommodate nearly 1,000 bathers, and the viewing area in the mezzanine can host up to 460 spectators. Learn more about our new pool or start swimming.
Under the leadership of the VP Finance & Operations, the eight units in the portfolio are responsible for the stewardship of UBC’s physical and financial assets. This includes overseeing a $2.3 billion budget, as well as the $1.2 billion endowment, and all University facilities.