Transforming Our Professional Services


The design phase of the Finance Transformer is coming to an end

28 May 2019

The Finance Transformer kicked off in November last year with the aim to transform the way in which Finance services are delivered across UCL.

Photo of people at a workshop

We are now coming to the end of the design phase of the project. Following a detailed look into three key services we are in the process of prioritising opportunities for change and developing a roadmap for implementation.

Our vision is that through the transformer we will have:

  • A professional and high-quality finance service for the UCL community
  • A finance team who are better supported and empowered
  • A finance service which adds value to the academic mission by better supporting Academic and Professional Services Leadership.

Designed by UCL

Since the project began in November 2018, we have engaged with colleagues from across the university, in Professional Services divisions and Faculties. Over 100 colleagues from across the community have been involved in the design phase through user groups, interviews and co-design workshops and we’ve talked with even more at our showcases, engagement sessions and TOPS Gallery Walks. 

We have used a design method known as ‘human centred design’ to rethink how services are delivered. This involves collaborating with staff to design services which meet their needs, improve their experience and enable them to achieve their goals.

Design process

During the design phase we’ve taken a detailed look into three key services and have been developing a view of how they could run in the future. These areas are:

  • Order to Cash/Income generation – how the university sells goods and services in order to generate income
  • Purchase to Pay/Purchasing activity – how the university buys goods and services
  • Record to Report/Financial reporting – how the university reports, monitors and manages its financial performance

For each service area we worked with the user groups to go through a scenario (eg. an over £50k equipment purchase) from end-to-end, in order to understand how all of the people, processes, systems and environments currently interact in order to support the UCL community. 

Opportunities for change

Through this process we identified over 100 opportunities across 15 different work streams that could improve the current systems and processes to provide the best service for UCL. We still have work to do to decide which of these opportunities to pursue, but we are keen to share some potential examples. 

Within income generation: 

  • Digital-service opportunities covering customer set-up and credit check as well as a digital tool for understanding tax treatment and calculation
  • Automation opportunities including the matching of payments to invoices and the creation and issuing of monthly statements

Within purchasing activity:

  • Digital supplier onboarding with automation and self-service 
  • An optimised purchasing platform with an intuitive landing page and simplified search and filtering
  • Digital expenses for staff and non-staff 

Within financial reporting:

  • Faster, easier and more accurate budgeting and forecasting and month/year end processing
  • Tailored dashboards for users to support decision making

What happens next?

We are now in the process of prioritising these opportunities and developing a roadmap for implementation. 

We are working with the Finance leadership to understand which opportunities are the main priority for UCL and are considering the UCL community’s needs and expectations.    

More on the Finance transformer