ExpenseUVA Online training Custom-built by Outreach & Compliance

If you call Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services (PSDS) these days, you’ll hear the friendly, reassuring voice of Jack Jensen on their automated answering system. PSDS adopted the automated system around the same time as the ExpenseUVA launch, in order to more quickly route callers to the right team member to help them. Jensen’s recorded voice gives callers a few quick options to choose from to receive specialized service.

It was fairly easy to choose who should be the voice on the other end of the line. Jensen, a Training and Development Specialist in Finance Outreach and Compliance (FOC), is practically the voice of UVAFinance: he’s recorded hours upon hours of “tips and tricks” training to help financial professionals across grounds, and, for the hundreds who have already accessed the online, on-demand training for ExpenseUVA, it is Jensen’s voice that explains the approval routing process and guides them through the process of uploading receipts. 

When the Travel and Expense Team contacted FOC about developing training for the thousands of users who would use the new expense system, the most immediate issue was how the small team could deliver training to so many.

“Not only were there a vast number of potential users,” said Jensen, “but also, there were so many different ways people could use the system: different roles, different school-level policies, reimbursing expenses, reconciling T&E cards . . . the list goes on.”

It was immediately apparent that in-person instruction would not only be hard to deliver due to the size and scope of the audience but also, given that the system was a “switch on” system with a go-live date weeks in the future, it would be an ineffective training method. 

Patty Marbury, UVAFinance Training Lead, put it this way: “We needed the training to be ‘just in time’ training – users need their how to’s at the moment they’re doing the task. We couldn’t be training people six weeks before go-live; they’d forget everything without a chance to immediately get in the system and begin entering expenses.” 

Marbury added that another priority was providing training that was always available as a reference because different user groups wouldn’t be accessing the system all at the same time, and many users, such as infrequent travelers, would not access it routinely.

Another reason the instructor-led training model wasn’t the best choice is that many departments have their own processes and requirements when it comes to reimbursing expenses and it would be impossible for trainers to know what they are and be able to deliver effective live training.

Online training made a lot more sense, and when he began to develop the training, Jensen decided to draw from his 14 years of high school teaching experience. As a high school algebra teacher, he had “flipped” his classroom. Instead of the traditional lecture/homework model, Jensen had recorded his lectures as required watching for his students at home, leaving in-person class time as an opportunity for students to work through their algebra problems in class, asking questions and receiving Jensen’s one on one assistance. 

Jensen found his flipped classroom accommodated a wider array of learning styles and allowed his students to actually understand the material more. The ability to pause instruction, to replay a portion, to both hear the instructor’s words and visually see the lesson being explained, when coupled with having someone close by when it was time to do the work, was just what many of Jensen’s students needed in order to gain a greater understanding of the subject at hand.

The flipped classroom model is also being used more widely with adult learners, so Marbury and Jensen recommended this approach for the ExpenseUVA training. 

For ExpenseUVA, Jensen’s online training consists of a thorough catalog of all the information any user would ever need, organized carefully by topic and by user role. Accompanied by in-person assistance from each school/unit’s Ambassadors, as well as prompts and guides within ExpenseUVA, the training is an audiovisual walkthrough of the entire expense management process.

Developing the training was no small endeavor.

Months ago, using Chrome River’s existing training as a baseline, Jensen began the process of learning not only the Chrome River software, but also UVA’s expensing process. For weeks, working from his carefully written scripts, often from his makeshift ‘recording studio’ (a reclaimed broom closet in Carruthers Hall), he spent long hours recording voice-over guidance for every single step that anyone using ExpenseUVA could take, matching video screen capture of the process to his narrative, and making many adjustments along the way as the system took its final shape. 

All in all, Jensen produced around five hours of online training, broken up into bite-sized pieces and accessible to users on demand. To date, over 340 people have accessed the online training. User response has been overwhelmingly positive; learners appreciate both the ease of finding the information they’re looking for and the fact that Jensen’s sessions are “easy to listen to.” 

That easy, conversational tone is intentional, but not easy to deliver, says Jensen. 

“I want the audio to sound like I’m sitting next to you, walking you through it, not like I’m reading out of a manual. When I write my scripts, I’m not writing an academic paper, I’m trying to have a conversation with someone,” he said.

Producing the training for an extraordinary, large-scale roll out like ExpenseUVA is just one example of the training efforts led by Finance Outreach and Compliance. FOC also developed and delivers a regularly-scheduled “Finance Fundamentals” course that is required training for anyone with finance system responsibilities, training for ResearchUVA as well as research administration, TravelUVA, the Integrated System, and much more. In addition, they routinely host Brown Bag sessions for finance professionals across Grounds. 

“The training team in FOC is charged with designing, developing, and in some cases, delivering training on finance processes and systems for all UVA employees,” said Marbury.

“We are always happy to help,” she added.

UVAFinance will continue to help with additional ExpenseUVA training by hosting in-person lab sessions post go-live, where users can bring in their first travel workbooks or T&E Card reconciliations and work through the process with assistance. FOC and the Travel and Expense Team made the choice to offer these sessions after go-live as a way for users to get live support when entering expenses and to reinforce the online learning. 

Sometimes, all users need to feel better about change is a reassuring voice explaining clearly what the next steps are and how to navigate the process, and as long as there is change, FOC will gladly be that reassuring voice, whether that is in-person or online. 

ExpenseUVA and ExpenseUVA training can be accessed online at http://www.procurement.virginia.edu/pageTravelandExpense 

Featured Image: 
Jack Jensen recording audio for online ExpenseUVA Training