Your first fortnight

Suggested actions for new HoAFs

Welcome to the Social Sciences! This section outlines some (not all) of the tasks you might want to consider during your initial weeks in post as a Head of Administration & Finance. The relevance of each item will vary according to the size and configuration of your department and its office team, and the nature of systems and processes already in place. Please contact us if you are unsure on any point.

1. Locate and familiarise yourself with the key documents for your department. If any of these do not yet exist, please contact us for guidance:

  • departmental organisation chart
  • map of the department, indicating office (and, where appropriate, desk) allocation
  • departmental risk register
  • three-year financial plan
  • departmental strategy document

The Departmental Activity Indicators are produced by the Division and should help in thinking about the above.

2. Familiarise yourself with departmental HR matters:

  • arrange 1:1 meetings with your direct line reports
  • familiarise yourself with any live HR issues
  • identify which, if any, Associate Professors are in their Initial Period of Office (IPO) - see Permanent Academic Staff under Human Resources for more information
  • identify which, if any, fixed-term research or administrative staff are in the final stages of their contracts
  • Use CORE reporting to identify which, if any, administrative staff are approaching the relevant procedural deadlines regarding the Employer Justified Retirement Age (EJRA)

3. Familiarise yourself with departmental travel insurance processes, and review live insurance forms. If there is no system yet in place, you should develop an efficient means of monitoring which staff and students are currently away from Oxford on business (based on insurance forms), in order to meet the department’s obligations in this regard. The University is running a project to improve the system of applying for travel insurance: TIRS.

4. Request an (informal) briefing on external research funding, including the grant application pipeline, current projects, and any issues around teaching buyout,etc., from your Research Support Officer (or equivalent post(s) with responsibility for pre- and post-award). This meeting could also involve your academic Research Director/Coordinator as appropriate.

5. Meet with your local IT Manager (or equivalent) to familiarise yourself with local provision arrangements and policies, as well as any emerging issues and concerns. Review the departmental office folder structure and access permissions to ensure that current arrangements are appropriate for all staff.

6. If you have a departmental Facilities Manager, request an (informal) briefing on current building issues and projects in the pipeline.

7. Familiarise yourself with departmental governance arrangements. Determine where you are in the annual committee cycle and, in discussion with your Head of Department / committee Chairs, begin planning agendas for upcoming meetings. Reviewing papers and minutes from previous meetings, and familiarising yourself with the Terms of Reference for each committee, is recommended.