By Michelle Moody, Deputy Director, Business Operation and Solutions Division

As part of the roadmap of activities outlined in AB 156, the Department of FISCal (FI$Cal) continues to onboard departments to the FI$Cal system. With the 2018 Release, onboarding for most departments was complete, and we began focusing on onboarding the remaining deferred departments. Deferred departments are defined as departments that implemented, or were in the process of implementing, their own financial management system in the early stages of department onboarding planning. Because these systems are already in place, the deferred departments will transition to the FI$Cal system as their existing systems come to their end of life.

The process for onboarding departments to the FI$Cal system requires cooperative efforts between FI$Cal, who provides resources and tools, and the new department, who must complete a schedule of activities to move their financial management activities to the system. We develop and implement an onboarding schedule tailored for each onboarding deferred department, which includes tasks, trainings, analysis and touch points to prepare the department and transition them to the system.

Our team is currently at work onboarding two deferred departments: the Department of Technology and the Department of Rehabilitation. We began our onboarding efforts with these departments last year, and planned for a two-year time frame to complete the onboarding activities. This process includes an analysis in the early stages in the form of a fit/gap report and a master plan.

The fit/gap analysis provides insights into the level of complexity of the departments’ systems, identifies critical, high-level business process gaps, and identifies the potential need for new interfaces between FI$Cal and departments’ legacy systems or enhancements. The fit/gap report is created by using the departments’ survey responses, along with several follow up meetings and emails, to gather and clarify any additional information.

Using the fit/gap analysis, we develop a unique plan for the onboarding department. The FI$Cal system standardizes accounting practices, and enforces the rules, policies, laws and processes for financial management. Aligning system functionality with a department’s business process needs is the first step in improving the integrity of California’s accounting system.

Working with the onboarding departments, we manage onboarding tasks and schedules using a Master Departmental Workplan (MDW). Based on lessons learned from prior onboardings, and taking into account the size and complexity of the deferred departments, the FI$Cal team updated the MDW to define the onboarding timeframe, and has moved training and access to the system earlier in the process. The MDW includes an extensive checklist of activities such as planning, training, technical modifications, business processes, system configuration, validation, role mapping and conversion planning. The MDW provides a roadmap for departments to complete FI$Cal-related tasks, and shares important details such as starting and ending dates, descriptions of the tasks included in the plan and available resources related to the tasks. To support the efforts outlined in the MDW, FI$Cal provides ongoing touch points, meetings and trainings.

As part of their MDW, departments attend business process workshops early in the process, where subject matter experts give high-level training and presentations on the FI$Cal system. They also attend configuration sessions and validation sessions over the course of their onboarding. Configuration involves assigning the identified departmental values, such as chart of accounts, addresses, etc., to ensure FI$Cal system functionality and the department’s business needs align. Validation is a process where departments perform scripted scenarios to validate whether the unique system features created by the FI$Cal team – configured roles, fields, modules, etc. – work as expected.

To support the onboarding activities, each department is assigned a relations coordinator (RC) who acts as a liaison to the department and is the onboarding department’s primary point of contact at FI$Cal. The RC oversees the department’s ongoing experience during onboarding, and facilitates meetings, supports MDW task completion, coordinates testing and training sessions, and conducts regular touchpoints. When an RC is not facilitating a specific meeting, they take notes to capture take-aways and share these with meeting attendees. The RC works with FI$Cal project management and enhancement services center teams to coordinate onboarding efforts and keeps all teams apprised of issues that might put the target onboarding project at risk.

Once onboarding activities are complete, and the department is successfully using the FI$Cal system, departments continue to receive support from the FI$Cal team via email and regular standup meetings with their RCs. They will also receive support through FI$Cal resources, including:

Customer Impact Committee – A formal mechanism for agencies and state entities to provide their input, and express their views and concerns to FI$Cal and executive-level management during regular meetings.

FI$Cal Learning Center (FLC) – FI$Cal’s one-stop shop created to help customers master the skills they need to become confident and successful using the FI$Cal system. The FLC includes virtual instructor-led training, job aids, video how-tos and other resources to support system end users.

FI$Cal Service Center – FI$Cal’s customer support center where users can call, email or submit a ticket via a portal to resolve issues in the system and receive help and support from FI$Cal staff. The FSC also provides user support labs, where end users have the opportunity to bring their work and receive step-by-step help from system subject matter experts.

FI$CalTv – FI$Cal’s monthly webcast where end users can connect with FI$Cal subject matter experts to help answer questions about specific topics and provide valuable tips, tricks and information about FI$Cal.

The onboarding process represents FI$Cal’s commitment to ensuring the state of California’s financial management system meets the unique needs of each department. Through collaboration and a robust set of supports, the FI$Cal team works together to ready departments, so they can transition more easily to the system.