On-Grounds Technology Vendor Demos

May 21, 2015
Jeremy Serkin

Vendor Demo DaysMore than 75 cross-functional representatives across the University of Virginia met for three days in May to assess potential technology vendors for the new University internal reporting toolset. UVA’s new financial model empowers units with the benefit and responsibility of greater financial stewardship. Because the new model is an important component of the University’s Cornerstone Plan—and carries significant executive sponsorship—individuals and teams around the University recognize the need for a more robust managerial data reporting environment.

The Managerial Reporting Project team first gathered high-level requirements from its Decision Support Working Group. Three vendors appeared to provide solutions that match UVA’s unique reporting needs, and each was invited to Grounds for day-long product discussions and demonstrations.

“There were differences between the vendors, but each understood our need for data analytics and business intelligence tools,” said Greg Ball, UVA Project Director for Finance Outreach and Compliance. “They displayed an understanding about how they can assist us—their time invested in understanding our needs showed in their presentations.”

The new model will increase transparency, predictability, and provide additional flexibility in decision support for stakeholders across Grounds. Reporting, finance and IT professionals from central services and academic units attended the three days of vendor presentations, and many participated in daily vendor demo sessions as well.

“We have entire teams devoted to reporting,” said Mike Galvez, an IT Specialist in the Office of the Comptroller. “We have a vested interest in reporting tools, because we use them every day. Other departments or schools also have their own needs,” he said.

Online surveys captured attendee reactions for each vendor, while the MRP team held a debrief sessions each day to analyze the survey results. At the end of the third day, attendees shared takeaways from the process. Matt Darring, a Financial Analyst in the School of Medicine, was one of many attendees representing an academic unit. He has worked closely on various MRP activities, and said “it was really nice to be in a room full of so many really smart people.”

Selecting the right reporting technology vendor is a highly calculated process. The next steps for the MRP team likely include further review of one or more of the vendor offerings from the initial demo pool, and discussion among the MRP Executive Committee and Associate Deans. The team hopes to make a recommendation by mid-to-late July.