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PPS Training Prep Guide

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  • Overview

    ​On completion of this course you will understand:

    • What the Payroll/Personnel System (PPS) is and how it functions
    • How PPS fits into the organizational structure of the campus
    • Commonly used terms and concepts
    • What the different roles and responsibilities are for positions that use PPS
    • Where to find answers to your PPS questions

    Once you have finished all six Lessons, you will be prompted to take the PPS Training Prep Guide Quiz.

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  • About the PPS Training Prep Guide

    ​The PPS Training Prep Guide is made up of 6 short lessons and a final quiz. The self-paced lessons will take approximately 30-60 minutes to complete.

    At the conclusion of the lessons, you will be asked to take a quiz. This quiz will be sent to the PPS office to demonstrate that you have completed the course and are familiar with the basic concepts that you will need when you go to the PPS Basics lab course. If you are not already enrolled in the lab class, you will be able to sign up for an upcoming class at the end of the quiz.

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  • UC Payroll Personnel System

    ​The Payroll/Personnel System (PPS) is an Information System designed by Office of the President for all 10 UC campuses.

    The Santa Cruz campus PPS runs off of a mainframe computer at Office of the President.

    In other words, when you are logging into PPS, you are actually logging into a computer in Oakland.

    Our campus works with Office of the President to:

    • establish new PPS accounts,
    • upgrade and install new system releases, and
    • manage the entire system.

    The Payroll/Personnel System (PPS) functions to:

    • process personnel actions,
    • pay employees, and
    • record general information about employees, such as benefits eligibility, leave accrual, tax withholding, merit dates, and probationary period dates.

    Most of the information in PPS is entered in an "Online Entry Update" Process.

    This process begins when a personnel action is initiated by a Unit Manager, such as to hire a new employee, reclassify a position, or process a separation.

    A person called the "Preparer" will complete all of the required paperwork and have the action approved according to the proper delegations of authority.

    At this stage, the preparer must take into account the "framework" which governs how this interaction should be processed. The framework consists of:

    • Business Practices of the Unit or Division
    • Campus Policies
    • Employment Laws
    • Possible Union Contracts (Bargaining Agreements)

    Once the paperwork has been completed and approved, the "Preparer" enters the action directly into PPS.

    Upon the last press of the update button, the database is updated and an on-line notification is sent to another person to review.

    A different person, known as the "Mandatory Reviewer" reviews the on-line notification to ensure that the action is accurate and appropriate.

    The notification is called a "Post Authorization Notification (PAN)" because it is generated post-update or after the employee's record has been updated in PPS.

    The Mandatory Reviewer must review the action in a timely manner so that any mistakes are found and corrected.

    Should the Mandatory Reviewer find an error, he or she would notify the Preparer that the employee's record in PPS needs to be corrected.

    The Preparer would do a second on-line entry update to correct the information and the Mandatory Reviewer would receive another on-line notification showing the correction entry.

    This review mechanism provides "checks & balances" within PPS.

    Once the personnel action is entered into PPS, PPS Users can access (view or print) this information in one or more of the following ways:

    • Via the Inquiry screens which show current information on the employee database.
    • By printing an IDOC (Inquiry Document), which summarizes an employee's current information.
    • Via the History screens, which show current and historical information.
    • And finally via Post Authorization Notifications (PANs), which show what data was updated in a given action along with additional comments from the preparer who entered the action.

    In addition to Online Entry Updates, employee records in PPS are updated by other processes and campus information systems throughout each month.

    • To generate pay, there are also batch processes done centrally which feed information such as current pay, retroactive pay, merits, and awards, into PPS.
    • The Academic Information System (AIS) also feeds information such as student status and number of units that the student employee is taking each quarter into PPS.
    • The campus Financial Information System (FIS) or BANNER interfaces with PPS on a weekly basis, so that funding of the payroll is reflected in both systems.

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  • Organizational Overview

    ​As an individual who will be working with HR/Payroll data, it is useful for you to have a general understanding of the campus organizational structure. This will provide a context for:

    • Understanding how administrative services are delivered on campus
    • Communicating with your colleagues by using common terminology and knowing the various areas of the campus organization
    • Understanding campus policies and procedures, which may be applied differently depending on the area and its particular protocol
    • Determining who has been delegated the authority to approve HR/Payroll actions

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  • Divisions

    ​The campus, headed by the Chancellor, is divided into administrative and academic divisions. The campus divisions are headed by vice chancellors and deans. Some examples of campus divisions are:

    • Division of the Arts
    • Business and Administrative Services
    • Jack Baskin School of Engineering
    • Executive Vice Chancellor/Campus Provost
    • Division of Humanities
    • Information Technology Services
    • Division of Physical and Biological Sciences
    • Division of Social Sciences
    • University Relations
    • Undergraduate Education

    Divisions serve as budgetary control points and establish practices and protocol for the units reporting to them.

    For example, a vice chancellor or dean may determine to whom further budgetary responsibility will be delegated; this responsibility will likely include authority for approving specific personnel transactions.

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  • Units

    ​The campus organization is further divided into "units" or departments. All units that comprise the campus are grouped under one of the administrative or academic divisions.
    A unit is an office normally characterized by its specific discipline(s), program(s), function(s), and/or delivery of specific service(s).

    Units can be categorized in different ways. For the purposes of our discussion about human resources and payroll functions, there are three different types of units it is useful for you to know about:

    • division offices,
    • central offices, and
    • business offices

    Types of Units: Division Offices

    We have already discussed divisions. The division office is normally responsible for the overall administration of the division, including the establishment of protocol for various human resource and payroll processes.

    If you are responsible for processing personnel transactions, it is important to remember this when determining the appropriate authority responsible for approving the transaction.

    Types of Units: Central Offices

    Generally speaking, a central office is responsible for performing specific functions, and providing programs and services to the entire campus.

    They also are responsible for:

    • implementing University policies,
    • developing and implementing campus policies and procedures,
    • providing training and consultation, and
    • entering a select group of personnel actions into PPS for the entire campus (e.g., benefits enrollment, staff new hires).

    Examples of central offices are Accounting, Financial Aid, and Central Purchasing.

    In the PPS arena, the responsible central offices you need to know are:

    • Academic Personnel Office (APO)
    • Career Center,
    • Payroll, and
    • Staff Human Resources (SHR)

    Another central office that works regularly in support of PPS is Information Technology Services (ITS).

    Types of Units: Business Offices

    The business office is a unit which provides a variety of administrative services to one or more campus units.

    Administrative services include such areas as:

    • Purchasing,
    • Budget and financial functions,
    • Human resources functions,
    • Payroll/personnel (PPS) transactions,
    • and Payroll processing

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  • Roles & Responsibilities

    ​Understanding each person's role(s) and responsibilities is essential to maintaining an appropriate accountability structure and ensuring separation of duties.

    Do you know how you will be using PPS?

    By the end of this lesson, you will know what the various roles and responsibilities are and hopefully can identify what your role will be.

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  • Service Team and Divisional Manager Responsibilities

    ​The business office managers are responsible for determining the overall workflow for payroll/personnel transactions, assigning roles to the business office staff, and ensuring separation of duties. In addition, they are responsible for:

    • Monitoring the work and ensuring that the review of PANs by the mandatory reviewer is performed in a timely manner.
    • Assuring there is both a preparer and mandatory reviewer and back-ups available to complete PPS transactions.
    • Notifying the ITS Help Desk to lock an employee's PPS account for the duration of a long-term leave from a PPS-related position.
    • Notifying the ITS Help Desk to close an employee's PPS account, when their appointment is terminated or the job function has changed to no longer warrant PPS access.

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  • Preparers and Mandatory Reviewers

    ​Business office employees are responsible for entering payroll/personnel data in PPS. This responsibility is assigned to qualified individuals in the organization who have the necessary knowledge and sufficient authority to process transactions.

    Within each business office there are preparers who will enter approved transactions online and there are reviewers of the transactions. There must be at least one preparer and one mandatory reviewer and provisions for a back-up preparer and reviewer in every business office.

    The primary (mandatory) recipient of a notification will normally reside in a business office, rather than in a unit served or central office.


    A preparer must understand University policies and UCSC systems and procedures in order to:

    • Understand the purpose and appropriateness of a transaction and ensure that it has been properly approved prior to entry.
    • Record a complete and proper explanation of the transaction.
    • Enter appropriate and accurate data into PPS.
    • Resolve all questions that arise during the completion of the transaction.

    Note: Preparers cannot update their own records.

    Mandatory Reviewers

    A Mandatory Reviewer must:

    • Review all PPS transactions via PAN. Transactions should be reviewed within two (2) business days of receipt. It is critical that these be reviewed in a timely manner to ensure that employees receive accurate paychecks.
    • Review each transaction for compliance with policy and other regulatory requirements.
    • Resolve all questions that come to mind by contacting the preparer, and/or referencing policy or regulatory information when appropriate.
    • Ensure that any questions about the transaction are resolved within two business days, and if this is not possible, that the transaction is reversed until all questions are resolved.

    Both a preparer and mandatory reviewer are responsible for the accuracy and appropriateness of each transaction entered into PPS.

    Back-up Preparers and Mandatory Reviewers

    The back-up preparer and mandatory reviewer are trained to serve as an alternate to cover the absences of a primary preparer and mandatory reviewer respectively. In addition, the back-up preparer would enter modifications to the primary preparer's record, since individuals cannot change their own records.

    The role of the back-up preparer or mandatory reviewer is to:

    • Be trained at a level equivalent to the primary preparer or mandatory reviewer respectively.
    • Fulfill the same responsibilities as the primary preparer or mandatory reviewer as addressed above.
    • Maintain currency of knowledge.

    Non-Mandatory Reviewers

    Some users receive and review PANs for information purposes on a business need-to-know basis. The non-mandatory reviewer can be set up in PPS to receive PANs automatically for specified actions (e.g., hires, reclassifications, etc.), or can be entered by the preparer at the time a transaction is completed in order to provide information on an as-needed basis only.
    Individuals who may serve as non-mandatory reviewers include unit heads or their appropriate designee, budget analysts, financial assistants, payroll/personnel representatives who need the information but are not the mandatory reviewer, and/or a central office employee.
    Inquiry Only Users
    Many individuals have job responsibilities which require them to look up payroll/personnel information to perform their job, but are not required to update nor review transactions as they are entered into the system.
    They are provided inquiry access to PPS which allows them to review payroll/personnel information for employee records within the user's purview (i.e., unit, business office, principal officer’s jurisdictional area, or central office).

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  • Central Office Responsibilities

    ​Central Offices (i.e., Academic Personnel Office (APO), Staff Human Resources (SHR), Career Center, Payroll, Graduate Studies, and Financial Aid Services) have the responsibility for high-level monitoring of specified PPS activities of business offices relevant to their respective function(s).

    In most cases, emphasis will be placed on identifying exceptional conditions outside a normal range rather than attempting to reconcile individual transactions since this latter responsibility will be performed in the business office.

    In situations where problems are identified, central offices will communicate in a timely manner with the respective business office manager in an effort to resolve misunderstandings and/or identify training needs.

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  • Data Access Grantors (DAG)

    ​The Data Access Grantor (DAG) is the individual who approves the appropriate type of access for an employee based on business purpose (job duties and/or need-to-know basis).

    Generally the Data Access Grantor is the unit manager or respective principal officer, as delegated by the Senior Officer.

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  • The PPS Office

    ​The PPS Office provides the following services to all PPS Users:

    • Establishes PPS accounts once a user has been trained and submitted an approved account request form.
    • Locks or closes PPS accounts when notified by a Business Office Manager that an employee is on leave or has terminated.
    • Reports system problems reported from PPS users (e.g., slowdowns, printing problems) to the programmers at Office of the President.
    • Notifies PPS Users of system outages, etc.

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  • Accountability

    Access to PPS is granted based on your payroll/personnel related job duties. You are accountable for using the system according to University policies and procedures.

    Your accountability as contained in those policies is summarized as follows:

    • Computing resources are to be used only for the legitimate University business that you have been explicitly authorized to perform as stated in your job description.
    • It is against University policy to pursue or use University records including, but not limited to, confidential information for personal interest or advantage.
    • Privacy and confidentiality of all accessible data is to be maintained.

    Before access is granted, you must sign an acknowledgement (the Access to Information Statement) that you understand and agree to abide by the above policies.

    In order to protect the privacy and confidentiality of all accessible data you are accountable for:

    • Keeping your password confidential. Never reveal your password under any circumstances.
    • Not leaving a workstation/terminal unattended while logged into University systems. In PPS, there is a command which will allow you to temporarily lock up your PPS screen and keyboard for short periods without requiring you to log out of the system completely.
    • Depending on how exposed your computer monitor is to others, you need to be extra cautious to protect the data displayed while logged into the system.

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  • Data Privacy

    ​Per UC Policy, information is categorized for disclosure purposes, and different rules apply for each information type.

    All information contained in the PPS database falls into one of the two following classifications:

    1. Non-Disclose Information
    2. Public Information

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  • Non-Disclose Information

    This includes personal information that can be identified to an individual. In most cases, personally identifiable information is protected from disclosure under privacy laws. Examples of personal information that is protected from disclosure include sex, ethnicity, birth date, and social security number.

    Any employee who divulges nondisclose personal information could be subject to disciplinary action by the University as well as civil suit by the person(s) whose personal information was disclosed.

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  • Public Information

    ​This is information which is not identifiable to an individual and, generally, it may be made available upon public request. However, there is some information identifiable to an individual which is defined as Public Information in the California Public Records Act and can be disclosed.

    This includes name, date of hire or separation, current position title, current rate of pay, organization unit assignment including office address and telephone number, current job description, prior non-University employment and other information as determined by University General Counsel.

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  • Preparers and Mandatory Reviewers Accountability

    Preparers and mandatory reviewers have additional responsibilities that they are accountable for: to maintain the integrity of the data within PPS. Accountability is fundamental to the internal controls that underlie Online Entry Update.

    In a forms-based process, review of individual transactions before they are processed provides the primary internal control mechanism.

    In contrast, On-line Entry Update depends on individual accountability and post-audit review for quality control. It relies on preparers and mandatory reviewers to understand their responsibilities and to be fully accountable for carrying them out.

    A log-on ID is considered equivalent to a signature and a preparer is accountable for all entries made under that log-on ID.

    A mandatory reviewer is also accountable to review all entries made in PPS within a timely manner to ensure that mistakes can be found and corrected before they impact an employee (e.g., paycheck, benefits).

    As stated in ‘Lesson 3: Campus Partners, Preparers and Mandatory Reviewers’, the preparer and the mandatory reviewer are equally accountable that payroll/personnel transactions entered into the system are accurate and appropriate.

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  • Unit Manager Accountability

    Finally, the Unit Manager is responsible for the financial resources within their unit's operations and for the use of them within the bounds of campus policy.

    For most actions, they initiate and approve the personnel/payroll action before it is given to the preparer to enter into the system. They can then follow up to ensure that the action was entered into the system correctly in two different ways:

    • Receive PANs as an automatic non-mandatory reviewer.
    • Review their unit's financial reports from the Financial Information System (FIS) after the weekly PPS/FIS interface.

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  • PPS Information Hierarchy

    ​You now know that personnel and payroll information is stored in PPS, but you will also need to know:

    • How such information is organized, and
    • Who are the employees that populate PPS?

    PPS Information is organized into a 3-level hierarchy:

    • Employee Level
    • Appointment Level
    • Distribution Level

    Employee level

    Employee level information applies to the whole person and describes aspects of the employee that are not linked to individual appointments and pay distributions.

    Examples of employee level information are:

    • original hire date
    • home department (business office)
    • separation data

    Appointment Level

    The appointment describes and defines the terms and conditions of an employee’s job or position at the University.

    Employees may have more than one position on campus, and thus may have more than one appointment.

    Examples of appointment level information are:

    • position title
    • sick and vacation leave accrual rates for the position
    • appointment duration

    Personnel actions that change the terms and conditions of an employee's position are called ‘appointment-level’ actions, such as a promotion, reclassification, or renewal of appointment.

    Distribution Level

    The distribution describes how an employee is paid for a given appointment (e.g., the method, conditions, and sources of pay).

    An appointment can have multiple distributions, such as when an appointment is funded from more than one source (split-funded).

    Examples of distribution level information are:

    • pay rate
    • funding for the appointment's pay

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  • Employee Populations

    There are different types of employees on this campus. It is important to know some of the distinctions between some of these types in order to understand how appointments and distributions are set up in PPS for each type.

    Here are some examples of the most common employee populations:

    • Staff (Career, Partial-Year Career, Limited)
    • Student (Casual-Restricted)
    • Academic

    Characteristics of Staff Employees

    Staff employees will be set up in PPS with a casual, career, or partial-year career appointment.

    A ‘Limited’ staff appointment is a position set up for less than one year or at less than 50% time regardless of duration.

    A ‘Career’ staff appointment is a position set up at 50% or more for 12 months or longer.

    A ‘Partial-Year Career’ staff appointment is similar to a ‘Career’ appointment, except that the employee will work 9, 10, or 11 months and then is placed on furlough (unpaid status) during the time they are not at work. As an example, a position that works closely with students might be furloughed during the summer when many of the students are gone from the campus.

    Characteristics of Student Employees

    Student employees are set up in PPS with ‘Casual/Restricted’ appointments. The following are characteristics of these positions:

    • established at less than 50% except for quarter breaks or during the summer
    • appointments are temporary
    • working hours are irregular and so they will be coded variable
    • work is secondary to student's academic & student life
    • work schedules are flexible enough to support academic program of student
    • multiple appointments across the campus are common

    Characteristics of Academic Employees

    ‘Academic’ is a broad category that covers both faculty, research, student academic titles and other academic appointees.

    An academic employee can be appointed as fiscal year (11 months of service rendered) or academic-year (9 months of service rendered).

    Student academic appointments are 50% time or less during the academic year.

    Academic positions and personnel actions are governed by the Academic Personnel Manual (APM) and the Campus Academic Personnel Manual (CAPM).

    Remember back to the framework that the Preparer must consider before entering an action into PPS (refer to Lesson 1: UC Payroll Personnel System for a refresher)? All PPS users need to understand this framework when looking at and interpreting the information they see in PPS.

    The employee population and appointment will help you determine what laws, policies, contracts, and business practices frame the employee record that you are looking up in PPS and what resources you can go to for any questions or interpretation of the information.

    In the next lesson, you will be introduced to some of these resources.

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  • PPS User Manual

    ​When working with PPS, you will have access to a variety of resources and tools to help you navigate your way around the system and decipher the information that you are looking at.

    It is important for you to familiarize yourself with these tools so that you can quickly find the answers to your questions.

    The first place to look for answers to a question about the Payroll/Personnel System is the PPS Manual on the Launch PPS page.

    It contains step-by-step instructions for navigating around the various areas of the system, screen shots, and other useful information about PPS.

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  • Policy & Procedure Manuals

    ​For policy or procedure questions you will also want to consult other manuals.

    For staff employees, you will want to look at:

    For student employees, you will want to look at:

    For academic employees, you will want to look at:

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  • Who to Contact

    ​There will be times when you need to talk to someone rather than just refer to a manual. Here are the offices that you will want to contact:

    General questions, access, training, and system problems​: PPS Office
    For policy or procedures questions:
    Payroll procedure questions​ Payroll Office
    Local hardware and software needs, including installing PPS CICS on workstations ITS Help Desk

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  • PPS Web Site

    ​For more information and additional tools, the best place to look is the PPS web site.

    Some of the tools you will find there are:

    • Updates to the PPS User Manual
    • Training and Access Information
    • Account and PAN Routing Forms

    You have come to the end of the PPS Overview Training Module! The next step is to take the PPS Training Prep Guide Quiz.

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  • Glossary of Terms

    Defines the intent of the employee's relationship with the University and the terms and conditions of employment.

    Central Office:
    A unit that provides specific administration services to the entire campus.

    Describes the method, conditions, and sources of pay for an appointment.

    A unit which serves as a budgetary control point and establishes practices and protocol for the units reporting to them.

    A document that can be generated from PPS which summarizes an employee's information on the employee database.

    Information System:
    A large database which manages information for an organization.

    The query or view-only screens in the employee database.

    A huge computer that handles large information system functions for an organization, such as the University of California.

    Mandatory Reviewer:
    The person responsible for reviewing transactions that are entered into PPS for accuracy and appropriateness.

    Non-Mandatory Reviewer:
    A person who automatically receives and reviews PANs to look for specific pieces of information.

    Online Entry Update (OEU):
    The process by which a preparer enters payroll/personnel data in PPS.

    Post Authorization Notification (PAN):
    An online notification to a reviewer that is generated upon the update of an approved transaction in PPS.

    A person responsible for entering payroll/personnel data in PPS.

    Business Office:
    A unit which provides a variety of administrative services to one or more campus units, such as purchasing, human resources, and payroll processing.

    An office normally characterized by its specific discipline(s), program(s), and/or delivery of specific service(s). Sometimes referred to as a ‘department’.

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