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AP Operational Improvement Initiative: October Update

IVC & CFO Baird-James sent the following message to UCLA employees.

What you need to know:

Accounts Payable (AP) efforts are currently underway to provide better service, faster payments and less uncertainty. Here’s how:

  • The UCLA Finance Support Portal is now live and is your first stop for travel accounting, T&E Card, PCard and non-T&E reimbursement support.
  • AP is actively enhancing UCLA’s PCard program to broaden access and simplify purchasing. It hosted its first PCard open house on October 2, and additional information can be found on the PCard hub.
  • Through ongoing campus and AP collaboration, the backlog of unpaid invoices older than 30 days has been reduced by over 60% since June 2023.
  • AP has added resources to meet Net 30 SLA requirements for timely payments, as well as dedicated support for small and diverse vendors.
  • UCLA's new procure-to-pay system, BruinBuy Plus, is scheduled to launch on January 2, 2024.

Dear Colleagues:

Over the past several months, I have met with faculty and staff to discuss their concerns about our current procurement landscape. Our outdated business systems have made it difficult to purchase goods and services, pay bills in a timely manner and fulfill UCLA’s mission. As we overhaul our purchasing and accounts payable processes, it is essential that the replacements are transparent, easy to use and accountable. Faculty and staff should be able to rely on clear order and payment timelines.

I am writing today to share progress on the concrete steps we are taking to fulfill three goals:

  1. Better service
  2. Faster payments
  3. Less uncertainty

AP Operational Improvement Initiative 

The Accounts Payable (AP) Operational Improvement Initiative kicked off this summer and operates in collaboration with the Ascend 2.0 Program to provide rapid improvements to current performance. It is committed to meeting the following targets by the end of 2023:

  • Pay invoices in accordance with AP's service level agreement
  • Rapidly resolve the backlog of unpaid invoices older than 30 days
  • Minimize the number of new invoices going on hold
  • Establish a dedicated support team for small and diverse vendors

In August, I charged a newly formed steering committee of faculty, school and department representatives to oversee this initiative’s efforts. I am grateful to the committee’s dedicated members and its chair, Judson Caskey, who will continue to meet twice a month for the next five months to help ensure AP fulfills its commitment to better serve the Bruin community.

To consult more broadly with faculty, I am also providing progress reports to the Academic Senate’s Council on Planning and Budget.

Progress Updates

We have already launched targeted efforts to better serve campus and vendors:

  • UCLA Finance Support Portal

    With over 60 self-service articles, comprehensive case views and increased inquiry transparency, the portal is your first stop for travel accountingTravel & Entertainment (T&E) CardProcurement Card (PCard) and non-travel & non-entertainment (non-T&E) reimbursement support.
  • Enhanced PCard Program

    AP is actively exploring ways to enhance UCLA’s PCard program, including:
    • Broadening access to PCards to make purchasing less complicated
    • Promoting increased usage of PCards for low-value purchases
    • Providing transparency on how to increase PCard thresholds

    With each enhancement, AP will maintain appropriate controls, working closely with Audit & Advisory Services and departments to deliver a balanced program.

    A PCard open house was held on October 2 and was the first campaign to help campus better understand this convenient purchasing method. The session feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and 79% of attendees reported they will be encouraging their units to apply for a PCard and/or increase PCard usage. In the coming days, the open house recording and takeaway materials will be posted to the PCard hub.

    For questions, create a case or attend PCard office hours.

  • H&I Resolution Initiative

    AP continues to work collaboratively with departments to resolve unpaid invoices on hold and incomplete (H&I) and, since June 2023, has already reduced the backlog by over 60%. Campus administrators now have access to the H&I dashboard and Monday/Thursday office hours.
  • Dedicated Small and Diverse Vendor Report

    AP has established a team committed to helping small and diverse vendors resolve their unpaid invoices and transition to BruinBuy Plus, UCLA’s new procure-to-pay system.

BruinBuy Plus

As mentioned in an October 4 BruinPost, BruinBuy Plus is scheduled to launch on January 2 and will move the University towards more efficient procurement processes that support the needs of our leading research institution.

Campus is encouraged to review the Prepare for BruinBuy Plus web page for a list of readiness activities and resources. User training will begin October 30, and comprehensive details can be found on the BruinBuy Plus Training web page.

What This Means for UCLA

Our goal is to make UCLA’s business systems work for you. Over the next several months, you will experience tangible improvements that make it easier for you and your teams to fulfill the University’s teaching, research and service missions.

For additional information, progress updates and feedback opportunities, visit the AP Operational Improvement Initiative web page.


Allison Baird-James
Interim Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer