Featured Topics Education Series: WorkCenter of My Universe - Part 4

By Chris Lopac posted 10-29-2020 02:05 PM


Title: WorkCenter of My Universe – Part 4
Author: Chris Lopac, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Blog Series Overview:
The Featured Topics Education Blog Series is sponsored and hosted by the HEUG Campus Community Advisory Group, with the intention to assist and educate the user community about featured topics of interest to the community.  To view other articles in the series, please go to the Article Index for the Featured Topics Blog Series.

Article Overview:
Over the last few months, I’ve provided you with tips on how to build out your own WorkCenter. Now that you have the information to build out a WorkCenter, it’s time to work with your business process owners and start designing what those WorkCenters might look like!

Today’s article will touch on the business requirements gathering before diving into a few examples of what UW-Madison’s Office of Student Financial Aid has created!

Similar to everything else we do, it’s a matter of gathering the business requirements and walking through the functionality that PeopleSoft delivers. Within our office, these requirement gatherings for each WorkCenter usually span over 3-4 discussions, with each discussion really diving into one “section” of the WorkCenter (i.e. Queries, Processes, etc).

To prime the pump and get the conversation going, I always ease into the WorkCenters by inquiring about the users’ “favorites” pages within SIS. Everybody loves their favorites and if you start to make the WorkCenter more comfortable and familiar for the user, overall buy in is much easier to achieve.

After touching on all of the internal favorites/pages that are related to SIS, I subtly switch gears to External favorites, pages team members have bookmarked in their favorite chrome/Mozilla browser. I start off this part of the conversation by saying, “If you were training somebody brand new, what pages would you ask them to bookmark?” What are the 3rd party vendor sites, federal/state systems/sites, as well as the links you use to do your job, whether the site is visited daily or monthly?

At this point, I like to paint a picture of what the WorkCenter can look like. For our office, we keep a lot of documentation on Wiki pages, which are online publications that can be collaboratively edited. We have made it a priority to move all of the documentation that is saved to a personal or shared drive to WIKI, so that it can be accessed referenced by URL. Once it’s in the Wiki, we can link to the documentation and have the business process documentation in the WorkCenter, right next to the pages/processes you utilize to complete the business process! This is another example of making a One-Stop Shop for team members!

After touching on links, internal and external, I like to shift to queries. We all have our favorite/go to queries, and possibly 15 iterations of that query. Lets’ get those queries into the WorkCenter! Also, it’s worth having the discussion as to what other queries would you like to see, to enhance the user experience. Lastly, within Campus Solutions, most of the PeopleSoft reports are also delivered as public queries. Can we add and/or remove data elements to/from those “canned” queries to make an even more user-friendly report?

Lastly, PeopleSoft has built out a separate section to call out reports or processes users run that need to be captured within the WorkCenter. Normally, I tack in the reports and processes within SIS to the Links section, to simplify the navigating for staff. Regardless of where you ultimately put reports and processes, great conversation always comes from discussing what reports/processes are utilized. Within the PeopleSoft, it’s easy to get lost and turned around, especially when you are only navigating deep into a folder to run one report. I like to go folder by folder with the users to see what reports users use (and to also show what else is available), and then add those reports to the WorkCenter.

With all of that being said, within our Office of Student Financial Aid, we have created numerous WorkCenters to streamline our team’s experience. Below are a few “flavors” of those WorkCenters!

Front Desk WorkCenter
The Front Desk WorkCenter is one of our most simple WorkCenters. The WorkCenter consists completely of Campus Solutions “favorites” pages. Our Front Desk is made up mostly of students and since it’s mostly students, there is turnover, as students graduate. Creating a One-Stop Shop for the Front Desk allows the team one place to efficiently get all of the relevant information out of the system to provide a good customer experience. Additionally, this expedites the onboarding process each year!

Fund Management
This WorkCenter allows staff to monitor and reconcile awards. While the WorkCenter is mostly query driven and allows users the ability to query different funds, whether it be federal funds, institutional loans, institutional scholarships, etc, some of the most fascinating parts of the WorkCenter are the drilldowns within the queries.

The drilldowns within the queries allow users to navigate to various item type config pages, including the fiscal item types, the disbursement item type rules, as well as the General Ledger data within Student Financials. Additionally, an interactive pivot grid was built that displays, by aid year, the funds disbursed.

Pell WorkCenter
The Pell WorkCenter is a dynamic, business process driven WorkCenter. The entire WorkCenter encompasses Pell, from auditing, to managing payments, to reconciling.

To start, the Queries are broken down into various business processes, from Origination Reports to Disbursement Reports to Cash Management Reports. Then, we pulled in the “Go To” Pell Pages from SIS and then tacked in additional Financial Aid pages. Lastly, we pulled in external links, such as the Pell Payment Schedule, our office’s Policy and Procedure Manual, as well as a Pell Self-Study Guide.

Loan WorkCenter
The Loan WorkCenter is another business process driven WorkCenter. The WorkCenter is split into two parts, Queries and Links. However, within the Queries, there are numerous business processes called out for the various types of loans (i.e. DL, PLUS, and Private). Additionally, there are external links that direct staff to the various outside agencies that provide oversight/service to the loans.

These are just a handful of the WorkCenters our office has created to continue gaining efficiencies across our business processes, which ultimately streamlines the student experience. As you can see, there’s no one size fits all when it comes to WorkCenters!