frequently asked questions    

Purpose of the UniForum@SFU program

What will the UniForum@SFU Data be used for?

Performance management is not the intent of the UniForum program. Moreover, the resulting data will be anonymous, meaning that individual staff members cannot be identified or assessed. We have a gap in terms of our knowledge in how we run our administrative services across SFU and UniForum is a way for us to address this. We have no preconceived notions regarding the data. and will let the information speak for itself.

How will the data be interpreted?

The takeaways from SFU’s data will depend on how our data compares to the collective data from the group of participating universities. This will allow us to interpret the information in the context of our peers and allow us to explore opportunities and best practices through information sharing and the review of alternative methods of service delivery. Also, an important aspect of the UniForum data is its longitudinal viewpoint. Over time, we will be able to gain a deep understanding of how changes in our administrative processes impact how effectively we support our teaching and research missions.

How will the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic be treated within the data?

Respondents code staff activities according to what work staff actually performed in the fiscal year. Staff are not coded according to what we think staff would have done if there had been no pandemic. All of the universities in UniForum’s Canadian cohort are taking the same approach to COVID-19 in terms of data collection, so the information will provide accurate comparisons with our peer institutions.

We recognize there were continuing disruptions to many SFU areas due to the pandemic, so the data will be analyzed and interpreted in light of the impact of COVID-19. 

As SFU moves back to in-person work, we expect to see some differences in the data in relation to work which could not be performed while working from home. The same will be true for all universities as they also return to in-person activities and continue to readjust to the 'new normal'. 

What steps have been taken around privacy of information?

We have completed a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for UniForum@SFU to ensure the program is compliant with the protection of privacy requirements outlined in British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). The PIA was completed in consultation with SFU’s Privacy Office. SFU’s contract with Cubane includes a Privacy Protection Schedule (PPS), giving comfort that the high privacy standards set by FIPPA are adhered to by Cubane as the service provider. UniForum@SFU continues to keep in close contact with SFU's Privacy Office on privacy issues. 


UniForum roles and methodology

What is the term commitment for UniForum@SFU and the associated stakeholders (i.e., Respondents and Primary Contacts)? 

SFU is committed to the UniForum program for five years. A multi-year commitment is required because of the longitudinal and comparative nature of the program. The activity collection (i.e., coding and review activities by Respondents and Primary Contacts) will happen once a year in the spring/summer. 

How are the standards used for benchmarking defined?

The UniForum program and activity code framework is designed by Cubane. However, the Canadian framework has been adapted by participating Canadian universities over time. SFU continues to have input into changes within the framework. 

How are variations in post secondary institution size and scale accounted for?

The data SFU collects will be adjusted for SFU’s size to make it comparable to other post secondary institutions. Whether SFU is being compared to a larger or smaller university, UniForum’s methodology removes the impact of size and scale (including the impact of economies of scale from, for example, higher student populations), so that ‘like to like’ results are being compared.

How are “professional staff” defined?

For the purposes of UniForum data collection, ‘professional staff’ are generally considered to be departmental or faculty administrative staff (including full-time, part-time and casual) who are not directly carrying out teaching and research (for example, academic faculty are generally excluded from the data collection). Detailed information on UniForum administrative ‘activities’ is contained within the Activity Coding Framework located on the UniForum Resources website.

What data is being collected?

SFU will run two UniForum activity collections: the professional staff collection and the supplier collection. This involves the creation of datasets showing professional administrative resources used in the most recently completed financial year.

In addition, high-level university data is being provided to help support accurate comparisons with our peer institutions. This includes collection of supplementary data, such as the amount of revenue generated by the university and total number of employees. 

This collection event will occur annually in late spring and summer.

What is the collection period?

Data is collected on a fiscal year basis (April 1 to March 31). Each collection period data is collected for the most recently completed fiscal year.

Will previous year's data be available to Primary Contacts/Respondents?

UFAST will pull forward and auto code any records with position numbers which were included in the most recent previous collection.

How will performance/proficiency variations be accounted for?

Individual performance measurement is not being measured nor assessed by UNIFORUM@SFU processes and is not within the scope of the program.


Technical questions

UFAST access/use

Why can I not login to UFAST?

Sometimes UFAST access is set up under an alternate or alias email. If you have multiple email addresses at SFU, try logging in using another of your email accounts.

For Example:
- [FirstName]_[LastName]
- [ComputinID]
- [RoleAccount]

If you continue to have trouble, please contact so we can assist you.

What does 'Auto Coded' mean?

To reduce the amount of rework, UFAST will pull forward the activity coding used and number of direct reports, in the previous collection period, for any records which have the same position number. This is irrespective of which staff member was in the position in the previous collection or which SFU department the position was in. Records which were pulled forward are labeled as 'auto coded'.

How do you know how much a staff member worked in the year?

We used Myinfo salary and base hours data as the basis for how much someone worked. In UFAST, the 'Fraction' value shown is the actual FTE found in the MyInfo PeopleSoft system and is not reflective of the portion of the year worked.

The start and end dates shown in UFAST are the earliest and latest dates that an employee was in the position. This is not used to calculate the portion of the year worked. It is provided only as a reference.

Note, no employee will have more than a 1.0FTE regardless of the number of records they have.

Why am I seeing end dates of 20 years in the future?

At SFU, some employees (i.e., continuing employees) do not have a set end date. However, when the data is uploaded to UFAST, the end date cannot be blank. As a default, the end date is set to 20 years after the fiscal year.

For example, in the 2021/22 fiscal year, any staff without a set end date will have an end date in UFAST of 'March 26, 2042'.

What does a position number of '99999999' mean?

Some positions are paid without a position number (typically research assistants). However, when the data is uploaded to UFAST, the position number cannot be blank. As a default, the position number is set to '99999999' with a position title of 'Other'.

Data Collection

How long will it take to enter the staff coding?

The expected time you will spend in the UFAST system coding is, as a general rule of thumb, 30 minutes for the first staff record and five minutes for each staff record thereafter. Entering into the second and later collection years, the time it takes should be faster.

How many activity codes should be used per staff record?

On average, between two to four activity codes will be used to allocate each staff member’s time.

However, the minimum number of codes is one (in which case the staff member has 100 per cent of their time allocated to one activity) and the maximum number of codes is 10 (in which case each activity has 10 per cent of the staff’s time allocated to it).

Which activity codes should I use?

Please consult the 'Activity Framework' for information pertaining to available activity codes. As general guidance, we suggest considering what amount of time is spent by the staff on a particular activity over a typical week or month of work (for example: 10 per cent time allocation corresponds to half a day’s work per week, or two days per month). If you can easily speak to a staff member’s work yourself, then you could potentially code their time without involving the staff member. However, if you are unsure of their day-to-day activities, you may need to discuss with them directly. Note, the data collection is not meant to be a time-tracking exercise.

Note, UniForum@SFU doesn't provide generic position type coding suggestions, as the main purpose is to capture the actual work done, not the work expected based on a job description. However, if you require assistance with specific personnel, please reach out to the UniForum@SFU program team via and we will work with you to find an appropriate activity code for your staff member’s work.

Do all records need 100% time allocation?

Yes, you must code exactly 100 percent of time allocation in order to submit your collection area.

What if a staff does work other than administrative work?

Generally, if staff are doing primarily administrative work and are not in an academic role, then they should be included in the staff dataset. If you are unsure if the staff you are coding for should be in scope for UniForum purposes, please contact us at:

How do you count the number of direct reports?

A direct report is a staff member who formally (as recognized by SFU Human Resources) reported to a specific position for a majority of the year (i.e., 6 months + 1 day). If the same position reports to you for the majority of the year, but the person filling it differs throughout, then this counts as one direct report.

What if there are multiple positions/employees with the same job?

Respondents have been assigned staff based on reporting relationships. However, if there are multiple staff who perform the same role, you can bulk code them all at the same time.

This would mean that all respondents who have these similar staff can work together outside the system to identify the number of direct reports and the time allocations, and then either reassign all the similar staff to one respondent and have that one respondent bulk code every staff member, or have each individual respondent bulk code those staff under them using the previously agreed-upon coding.

Why are regular and backfill personnel both included for the same position?

Both records are included as SFU is paying one person to be away from the university (i.e., on leave/vacation) and one person to be backfilling to do the work. In this way, SFU is actually paying two employees for the same job. However, the personnel who is not actively working at SFU has a 0FTE recorded in the data for that period so the FTE isn't being duplicated for the position.

How do you code Staff who are...

on leave/secondment?

If a staff member was on paid leave, you would code their activities as if they were still on the job during the relevant fiscal year. The backfill person will also be captured in the data and coded identically. 

If a staff member was on secondment, their secondment/temporary assignment is captured by the department they were seconded to. You do not need to code the time when they were seconded.  

only worked a portion of the fiscal year?

For staff who only worked part of the year in the position, you should record the staff member by accounting for 100 percent of the amount of time they actually worked. The system will automatically apply the percentages you enter to the period of time actually worked during the fiscal year.

duties/job description changed during the fiscal year?

For staff who's job description is re-written/changed during the collection period or their duties changed, please code these staff for the work that they actually performed. 

If the job description change involved a change in direct reports, please follow the regular guidelines for direct reports (i.e., total positions who formally reported to a specific position for a majority of the year).

on limited duties?

You should code the employee’s time according to the work actually performed. So, if the work they did was limited duties, then you should code only the limited duties that they actually did over the fiscal year.

on graduated return to work plan?

Staff on a graduated return to work plan will have a position title reflecting this. In these cases, please code the time allocations reflecting the work as they were actually doing it. There will be another, separate record for their full-time non-return to work position if they had one during the year.

on job share?

Each record in the data is unique to the employee ID, position number, temporary/continuing status and part/full-time status. Therefore, you should treat a job share as two positions, as this situation will result in at least two records in the data. However, as these records likely have completed the same work and have the same direct reports, you can code them at the same time.

in an acting role?

For staff that are in an acting role for another staff member who is on short-term temporary leave (i.e., vacation, sick, etc), a record is created for the time in the acting position and for their regular position along with a record for the staff member who was on leave from the position, if applicable (i.e., on paid leave and/or worked at some other point in the fiscal year). Code each record for the work actually performed during the period of time worked.

We recommend selecting both the acting role record and the record for the staff member who was on leave, and coding these at the same time to the same codes.

working in multiple positions at once?

A record will be created for each position which will be applied to the portion of the year worked in each role. Please code each to 100% for the work that was actually performed in that role. 

reporting up to a vacant position?

Although staff members have been assigned to respondents based on reporting relationships, not all of the reporting relationships used were direct. The general requirement is that the respondent should be knowledgeable (or at least, the most likely person who would be knowledgeable) of what the staff member did with their time. For instance, there is the option to have the staff member coded by their direct supervisor or by someone higher up in the reporting relationship. If there is no obvious reporting relationship (perhaps because of a vacant direct supervisor position), then the staff member’s time can be recorded by someone who is at the same level as their direct supervisor or alternatively, one of the direct reports could code for all of the direct reports (including themselves).


Service Effectiveness Survey (SES)

What is the Service Effectiveness Survey? 

The Service Effectiveness Survey (SES) is an annual survey that measures importance and satisfaction with administrative and support services as experienced by selected SFU professional and academic staff.

Respondents typically take about 15 minutes to respond to questions on:

  • How important support services are in their roles
  • How satisfied they are with these services
  • How various aspects of the services perform with respect to systems, processes and staff interactions.

Survey results are analyzed sector-wide by cohort, organization structure, seniority and more.

Please note: all responses are confidential and no one at SFU will have access to your individual feedback.

Who can participate in the SES? 

Launched on April 19, 2022 and ended on May 6, 2022, the Service Effectiveness Survey (SES) is an annual survey that measures importance and satisfaction with administrative and support services as experienced by selected SFU professional and academic staff.

Respondents typically take about 15 minutes to respond to questions on:

  • How important support services are in their roles
  • How satisfied they are with these services
  • How various aspects of the services perform with respect to systems, processes and staff interactions.

Survey results are analysed sector-wide by cohort, organization structure, seniority and more.

Please note: all responses are confidential and no one at SFU will have access to your individual feedback.

Select SFU professional and academic staff, who worked during the relevant collection period, will receive an email invitation to participate with a unique link to complete the survey. 

When is the SES run? 

The Service Effectiveness Survey may occur in either the Fall (October / November) or Spring (April / May) periods.

The first SES was launched on April 19, 2022 and ended on May 6, 2022.

What services does the SES cover? 

The SES covers a wide array of various in scope administrative services and functions, from HR and Finance, to Research Administration.