We heard you: responses to your questions/comments on the VC Finance quarterly reporting processes

January 18, 2018
Divisional Finance Leaders and Chief Administrative Officers,

Thank you for sharing your feedback on the VC Finance quarterly reporting processes. Our teams have carefully reviewed your comments and questions with the DFL Communications Workgroup, and we're pleased to offer the following responses to the most common topics. 

Simplify collaborative sharing platform
The Controller's Office and the Financial Planning & Analysis Team currently use different collaborative platforms:  Box (Controller) vs. Drive (Financial Planning & Analysis). The teams are exploring the use of single file-sharing platform. For now, roles and access rights delivered with Box are limited. We've provided DFLs with the the Viewer Uploader role, which does not allow you to delete previously uploaded files or manage your division's folder. DFLs can upload additional corrected files, if needed. The Controller's Office is evaluating the Google Drive access functionality as part of its exploration with Financial Planning & Analysis of the use of a single file-sharing platform.

Streamline effort
Several of you have indicated that the Financial Reporting Review (Controller) and Variance Analysis (Financial Planning & Analysis) seem to be very similar work efforts. To help clarify, the Financial Reporting Review is an internal control that provides assurance that financial reporting of actual results is complete, accurate, and valid. The Variance Analysis and corresponding Flash Forecast allow divisions to course correct throughout the year; deliver transparent reporting; and improve the quality of actual, budget, and forecast data used by leadership for decision-making. Learn more about the differences between these reports in the slides that Financial Accounting & Controls Director Lisa Vanderfin shared at the June 2017 DFL Forum.

Further clarification of the Financial Reporting Review:
  • The Financial Reporting Review, which includes variance analysis of current-year to prior-year actuals and budget, is a key control. The variances for this review and the Variance Analysis are only duplicative in the first quarter of the fiscal year. The variances are different for quarters two through four as the Variance Analysis reflects variances with forecast for those quarters.
  • Review of year-over-year variances is a standard financial comparative analysis that is commonly performed at different organizational levels to verify current-year actual financial results are complete, accurate (including recorded in the period, i.e., quarter, in which the transaction occurred), and valid. Quarterly variance reviews at the division level may be used to explain quarterly variances at the campus level. Current-year versus prior-year variances are reviewed at a campus level by our external auditors.

The Controller's Office does not provide a materiality threshold for variances for the Financial Reporting Review, as this is a judgment that should be specific to each division's financial results and determined by the DFL. Generally, materiality is the threshold above which missing or incorrect information in financial data is considered to have an impact on the decision-making of users. 

Improve support materials
The Financial Reporting Review web page now includes naming conventions for uploaded reports. To make it a little easier for you, the naming convention has been changed so that all the qualifying information (division node and quarter) is before the report name. The Controller's Office is exploring updating the Compensation Reporting Review Procedures job aid to include adding explanations when using Acrobat DC.

Coordinate communications
Financial Reporting Review reminders are delivered by the Controller's Office via VC Finance's DFL Weekly emails because DFLs are responsible for completing the work. The Variance Analysis Reports are delivered by the Financial Planning & Analysis team via email directly to each Dean/VC, in addition to their CAO and DFL, because the Dean/VC is responsible for reporting on material variances. For planning purposes, the due dates and overviews of each of the reports are available on the quarterly reporting processes webpage.

Clarify functionality of Financial Reporting Review

  • Does GL Summary - Monthly Comparative Actuals Report allow for querying in SmartView? Yes, the current GL Summary - Monthly Comparative Actuals Report allows for querying in SmartView. Login to SmartView via Citrix and under the "Shared Connections - Reporting and Analysis Framework" you will be able to access the Key Control folder.
  • Does the Compensation Report provide sufficient information for verification that salaries, wages, and benefits are accurate for the period? While the Compensation report is not designed to provide detail transaction information, it does provide detail by employee by month by full chartstring if selected. (Please note this report is designed as other BAIRS reports so that users may uncheck the "Ignore" box in the dashboard to specify chartfield values like fund, CF1, or CF2.) If the amounts presented in the report appear incorrect or unusual, you may need to run the more detailed PPS5302 BAIRS report to investigate.  
  • Can the GL Summary - Monthly Comparative Actuals Report use the same signing conventions as the Variance Analysis Report? Because the GL Summary - Monthly Comparative Actuals Report is used to monitor actual financial results, it is designed to be consistent with the actuals accounting data in the BFS General Ledger rather than changing the presentation of debit and credit amounts. This report presents actuals data consistently with other BAIRS reports, including GL Detail, which may be used to investigate certain variances in the GL Summary - Monthly Comparative Actuals report. 

Clarify functionality of System Access Review

  • How do we add additional reviewers? If you need to add a reviewer or inquirer to a distribution list, please send an email with your request to the BFS System Access team at secbfs@berkeley.edu. Please be sure to include the employee name, employee ID number, and the report distribution code. The request must include approval from the DFL before it can be processed. To request removals from the list, follow the same procedure. We've added this clarification to the System Access Review webpage.
  • There are many individuals on my systems access report in BFS that do not report to me. Is this access being reviewed by others? The individuals on your report who do not report to you are there because they have workflow approval access for your org nodes. These individuals are not being reviewed by others. Please review each of these individuals to ensure they should be able to approve transactions in the org nodes specified. We've added this clarification to the training guide.

Questions and comments

We welcome continued feedback and questions on our quarterly reporting processes. Please contact these teams directly to get in touch with us:
  • Variance Analysis and Flash Forecast: Financial Reporting & Analysis team via dfl_concierge@berkeley.edu (team led by Director of Financial Reporting & Analysis Heidi Hallett)
  • Financial Reporting Review: Financial Accounting & Controls team via gao@berkeley.edu (team led by Financial Accounting & Controls Director Lisa Vanderfin)
  • Systems Access Review: BFS System Access team at secbfs@berkeley.edu (team led by Director of Berkeley Financial Systems Tracy Okamura)