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Terms of Reference

Objectives / Purpose

The review is required to do the following:

  1. To develop a high-level understanding of the finance units that exist to support the Faculty of Health Sciences, including additional central areas of Financial Affairs and the Research Finance office under the VP Administration and VP Research respectively, now and in the foreseeable future, to deliver its strategic financial and reporting services and to determine the most efficient and effective basis on which to deliver those services. To do this, the review should consider core support elements of financial services at the University both within and outside of the Faculty and how these services are currently delivered with an eye towards understanding:
    • any duplication or redundancy of service provision,
    • opportunities for synergies, and/or
    • gaps in service provision.
    Included in the review will be current organizational structures of central finance units (including Health Sciences Operating Finance, Health Sciences Research Finance, Financial Affairs, McMaster Research Finance), Faculty of Health Science Departments and existing funding bases and methodology.
  2. To review which finance services required by the university and the Faculty (whether currently provided or not) are best met by the current support models and whether there are synergies or efficiencies available to the university through these models in relation to the services required; also, to review whether centralization or outsourcing of certain finance functions would be more effective.
  3. To consider the delivery of financial services from the many user perspectives (including faculty, staff and students) and whether any model changes may positively or negatively impact this.
  4. To review the adequacy of the Faculty’s, and/or university’s financial resources and funding methodology as they relate to the provision of services (irrespective of current allocation).
  5. To review the current organization structures for the delivery of financial services.
  6. To make recommendations in these respects.

Download the Research-Finance Review terms of reference here.

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The process will involve a Review Committee composed of external and internal members that will include three externals and two internal subject area leaders and/or users.

Project Launch and Information Collection Period will be overseen by the project sponsors and led by a Project Manager using an information collection package prepared for and with input from the Review Committee. The Project Manager will identify the information needed to be completed by the key leads of the finance units. Services will be organized as follows:

  • Strategic alignment to the University’s research, educational, and health care goals;
  • Current delivery points and users;
  • Resourcing, cost and cost recovery provisions;
  • Service level standards and performance against those standards

At the same time, key stakeholders (including unit heads) will be interviewed and asked to identify:

  • Duplications, potential for synergy and gaps in the current service offering from a strategic perspective
  • Strategies/plans for service delivery/expansion
  • Possible changes to compliance business processes
  • Best practice models and/or improvements for delivering financial services at the university
  • Service level expectations and user perspectives on meeting expectations.

Interviewees will include, but will not be limited to:

  • The unit leads of finance units (AVPs, Research Executive Director, Directors, Managers)
  • Those responsible for financial services in their department or unit of the Faculty or central university.
  • Users of the financial services. Preliminary list of interviewees:
    • PVPD and key AVPs
    • Faculty Executive
    • Leaders of departments, centres, and institutes
    • Departmental Directors of Administration and selected Faculty department-level administrators
    • A group of faculty members (selected in consultation with the VP Research)
    • MUFA and clinical faculty members (selection TBD)
    • Others as identified throughout the process.

Other mechanisms will be employed to capture the broader community feedback (online forum, online survey, etc.).

Consideration and Deliberation Period

The project managers will provide the Review Committee with information packages and summaries of interviews (minutes) for their consideration and deliberation. The Review Committee will decide its own processes and have the project manager available as a support resource. Unit leaders will be available to the Review Committee and the Project Manager for ongoing consultation during the review.

Definition of Core Elements

Financial services that will be considered throughout the review process are those listed below.

Strategic Planning

  • Planning to ensure unit plans fall within University Strategic Planning
  • Setting Standards and KPI’s

Financial reporting

  • Internal reporting / Management Reporting
  • Ad hoc reports
  • Ministry Reporting
  • Granting agencies
  • Contracts (Research, Vendors, other)
  • Various internal committees
  • Senate and Board of Governors

Financial oversight

  • Policy development
  • Supervision of policies to ensure compliance
  • Compliance to legal requirements, internal requirements and sponsor requirements
  • Provision of advice and assistance to departments, faculty, staff and students
  • Monitoring standards and KPI’s
  • Monitoring Budgets

Risk Management

  • Operational, reputational etc. risk identification, evaluation, mitigation, monitoring and reporting
  • Legislative compliance monitoring and reporting


  • Preparation of budget meeting University requirements
  • Ensure budget plans correspond to Strategic Planning

Treasury / cash management

  • Performed centrally to ensure funds are available as required and invested appropriately

Financial transactions:

  • Payroll (including Hospital payroll performed by FHS)
  • Travel
  • Accounts Payable
  • Accounts receivable / collections
  • Reconciliations (bank/ RMA/ Other)
  • Strategic Procurement /purchasing
  • Journal Entries (and approvals)


Preparation of material relating to the following:
  • Research-related audits (sponsor compliance audits and individual sponsor audits)
  • External audit (financial year end etc.)
  • Internal audit

Scope of Work

McMaster University has adopted a decentralized model for many of its administration and financial activities.

Decentralization has been demonstrated by the Budget Model and resource allocations included in the Budget Model. As such finance functions are performed by many individuals in many departments across the University. Further, key financial services have been carved out of centralized financial services to be performed in FHS Financial Services (referred to as Deployed Services). A full review of financial functions to ensure all duplications and efficiencies are identified would need to entail all faculties, departments, service units, ancillaries, institutes etc., however, this review will focus only on part of the University operations as follows:

Detail review of core elements of financial services for:

  • Faculty of Health Sciences Finance Operating Finance
  • Faculty of Health Sciences Research Finance
  • Departments within the Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Institutes and centres within the Faculty of Health Sciences
  • Financial Affairs
  • McMaster Research Finance (non- Health Sciences)

The review will include information gathering and validation, meetings to validate organization processes, questionnaires, surveys and other information needs as required by the Project Manager on behalf of the review committee.

Questionnaires and surveys will also be provided to the broader University community to allow for appropriate feedback, inclusion and transparency for users of financial services. This group will include, in addition to the units above:

  • Key leaders of Faculties (and departments within Faculties) other than Health Sciences,
  • Key leaders of Ancillaries
  • Key Leader of Service Departments (other than Financial Affairs and Faculty of Health Sciences)
  • Faculty (selected in consultation with the VP Research)
  • Staff
  • Students / Student groups and associations
  • PVPD and key AVP’s
  • MUFA and clinical faculty members (selection in consultation with the Dean and VP, FHS)
  • Others as identified throughout the process

Download the Research-Finance Review scope document here.