By Jesse Drake
What historically defined accounting — number crunching — inadequately describes the profession today.
"We're heavy into customer service," said UIT Finance Manager Brandon Zimmerman. "There's a lot of face-to-face interaction. We really like it when budget managers are comfortable coming to us with questions, even when they're worried they made mistakes."
Added Director/Chief Financial Officer Lisa Kuhn, "People are always looking for confirmation that they are doing things the right way."
UIT's Finance Department plans and manages all financial activities for UIT and the Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN). Finance also comprises the U's Office of Software Licensing (OSL), and the Inventory team that administers the flow of materials at the Eccles Broadcast Center (EBC) and Downtown Data Center (DDC) warehouses.
To facilitate interaction with budget managers, Financial Analysts Susan Shult and Matt Timpson, and Accountants Cathy Burbidge and Melissa Ulfich split their time between EBC and 102 Tower, the downtown location for a number of UIT employees. Sr. Accountant Jeanne Krogen, who oversees accounts for UIT's Teaching & Learning Technologies (TLT) with support from TLT Executive Secretary Cindy Hanson, works out of Marriott Library.
Accounting team members administer accounts for various units, generally divvied up based on functional area. Alijana Kahriman sees her job as "problem-solving for 400 people." In addition to serving as administrative officer in University Support Services, she serves a dual accounting support role for three units in the UIT organization.
They all share the workload (see just some of their ongoing and daily projects, at left). Among these things is helping employees fill out their Kronos time cards and get paid, which is pretty important. In fact, to ensure business continuity, paying people promptly after a catastrophic event is a top priority in disaster recovery (DR) planning at the university.
Where finance involves budgets and transactions, inventory administers the flow of materials. The common link between the two is procurement, or purchasing of items and materials. Purchases in UIT tend to be communication- and infrastructure-related, such as telephones, cable, wireless access points, and servers. Kuhn said part of the Accounting team's role is to enforce university guidelines around procurement.
Inventory Supervisor Elaine Gallegos thanked Burbidge for "always checking to make sure we've received the materials before paying the invoices." The appreciation was clearly mutual. Turning to Gallegos, Burbidge said, "You're my go-to person, too. I couldn't do my job without you."