Issue No. 06 - Winter/Spring 2020

Welcome to the first IRIS Insights issue of 2020!

This IRIS Insights issue is filled with important updates for anyone who accesses the IRIS system – or a related IRIS platform – as part of his or her responsibilities as a University of Tennessee employee.

To stay well-informed during a time of evolving change, process improvement, and future enhancements for the University, please ensure your applicable colleagues are also members of the IRIS Users Listserv. The IRIS Users Listserv is an important resource for you, and as a member, you regularly receive email communications for not only IRIS but other relevant University systems, procedures and functions, too.

Each IRIS Insights issue is sent to current IRIS Users Listserv members, and our hope is that this electronic newsletter helps to organize relevant and crucial IRIS-related information in a summarized, easy-to-follow format – complete with features you will only find in IRIS Insights. (If you are interested in reviewing any of the past five IRIS Insights issues, the IRIS Help website includes all archived versions.)   

The IRIS Administrative Support team is working diligently to keep everyone up-to-date on the important enhancements that are deploying now, as well as any changes that will be released throughout this year.

If you ever have a question about an email communication you receive, please feel free to reach out to the IRIS Helpdesk. The IRIS Administrative Support team is here to assist with your use of this system!

Thank you for reading this IRIS Insights issue!

- IRIS Administrative Support

As you know, the University of Tennessee System – and all UT campuses and institutes – are closely monitoring and responding to the current coronavirus outbreak. The UT System website includes up-to-date announcements for the UT community, as do the individual UT campus and institute websites.

If you need to access the IRIS system from your home or another remote location, we have compiled a helpful guide and a list of the recommended steps and methods to do so. It is imperative that you ensure the computer you are using is secure. The UT System Information Security Office website is a helpful resource when setting up an alternate computer to serve as your temporary workstation, and the UT campus and institute Information Technology department websites provide helpful information surrounding this topic as well:

Please reach out to the IRIS Helpdesk if you encounter an issue or have a question when working through any of the options below:

SAPGui Desktop Client Installation: If you need to install the SAPGui desktop client on an additional computer for use when you are away from the office, access the most up-to-date version of this software from the “Getting Started” page of the IRIS Administrative Support website. (You will use the “SAPGui Download” link on this page to log in with your NetID and password and access the software installation file.) If you need instructions when working through this installation process, a step-by-step guide is published on the IRIS Help website. Once you install the SAPGui desktop client, you will be required to run a Virtual Private Network (VPN) application to successfully log in to IRIS while on an off-campus network. This next step is highlighted below.

Virtual Private Network: To launch the SAPGui desktop client from an off-campus network, you must also install the Virtual Private Network (VPN) application for your respective UT campus or work area. Once you install the VPN, you must connect through the VPN first before you will be able to log in to the SAPGui desktop client. (You will receive an error message if you do not connect through the VPN first.)

Web SAPGui: If you need to access your IRIS inbox or review information in IRIS when away from the office, the Web SAPGui is a web-based version of the SAPGui desktop client. Accessing IRIS through the Web SAPGui does not require you to download additional software or connect through the VPN – it simply requires an Internet browser. However, it is important to note that the Web SAPGui is more limited in its functionality, as compared to the SAPGui software. If your responsibilities include entering information in IRIS or running detailed reports, the SAPGui desktop client is still the recommended option.

IRIS Web Portal Inbox: If all you need to access is your IRIS inbox, then the IRIS Web Portal “Inbox” tab is an additional resource for accessing your IRIS inbox to review or approve any IRIS work items routed to you in IRIS workflow, as well as to certify travel expenses electronically. In addition, an entire “IRIS Web Portal” folder is available on the IRIS Help website to help you use the IRIS Web Portal effectively.  

IRIS Mobile: The IRIS Mobile platform provides an even more accessible option for handling work items in your IRIS inbox or reviewing your online pay statement. The IRIS Help website includes several instructional documents and videos that explain how to install the IRIS Mobile application on your mobile device or tablet and how to access it.  

"Apps@UT": If the alternate computer you need to use when away from the office is a Mac computer, a method is available for accessing the SAPGui desktop client through a central server, rather than as an installation on the computer itself. “Apps@UT” is a site developed by the UT Knoxville Office of Information Technology (OIT) and is automatically available for UT Knoxville employees and those working in the Knoxville area. If you work for a different UT campus and need access to this tool, it is made available to other UT campus employees for a fee. If you use a Mac computer at home and need to pursue this option to access IRIS when away from the office, step-by-step instructions are available on the IRIS Help website. (If you are unable to access Apps@UT, the Web SAPGui is the recommended option for logging in to and using IRIS when working from a Mac computer.)

Steps Already Taken

In the current digital environment, identity theft and threats to data integrity are a constant concern. The IRIS Administrative Support team regularly monitors the IRIS system and the related IRIS platforms to ensure the data stored in each environment is secure and protected. As these processes evolve, we are constantly looking for new ways to protect IRIS against any vulnerabilities and attacks from both inside and outside threats.

The first part of this effort has already been accomplished, as all IRIS users who access the system using the SAPGui desktop client were required to upgrade their version to one of the latest releases by February 26th. (The latest versions more strongly encrypt all network traffic between your workstation and the IRIS servers.)

Next Steps

The second phase of this project will culminate in the coming months when the method for logging in to the SAPGui desktop client will change for all IRIS users. Rather than logging in using the “SAP Logon Pad” that you use today, you will access IRIS by first logging in to the IRIS Web Portal. You will receive additional email communications about what to expect with this change prior to it happening, as well as step-by-step instructions to follow for this new authentication process.

This additional level of security will serve as yet another barrier against any type of attack against a University system and will ensure that IRIS users are leveraging (when implemented) the two-factor authentication methodology. (Please note, the two-factor authentication process is not yet implemented at all UT campuses. If your campus has not yet deployed two-factor authentication, you will still be able to log in to IRIS after this change is made.)

We appreciate your cooperation with these enhancements and your assistance in ensuring all data contained in IRIS is always as secure as possible. By working together to safeguard the data we access each and every day, we are all doing our part to guarantee the University is operating in the most secure way possible.

We strongly encourage that anyone who accesses IRIS join the IRIS Users Listserv to ensure you are kept up-to-date with these additional changes.

If you ever have a question about these evolving requirements, please reach out to the IRIS Helpdesk. We are here to help address these questions and any concerns you may have!

We have highlighted the IRIS Web Portal on a few occasions throughout this IRIS Insights issue, and this IRIS platform will become more widely used this year. Oftentimes, you may think of the IRIS Web Portal as the IRIS platform you access when reviewing your online pay statement, downloading your electronic W-2 form, or managing your IRIS inbox when away from the office.

Did you know the IRIS Web Portal also serves as a single launching point for other University systems that interface with the IRIS system?

When you log in to the IRIS Web Portal, you will notice that there are several tabs located at the top of the screen. The “Other” tab, as shown in the screen shot below, is a helpful starting point when you need to access other University-managed systems.

For this particular IRIS Insights issue, we thought highlighting the systems available through this “Other” tab would be a helpful use of this recurring “IRIS Resources” feature. When you need to access one of these systems quickly, use the IRIS Web Portal as your launching point to do so!  

Contract Management System: The Contract Management System allows you to initiate a new contract for review, determine an existing contract’s status, locate contracts in the approval process, or view any final contract documents. If you need assistance when working through this system, the Procurement Services website includes an extensive list of recorded video tutorials and a step-by-step instructional document.

Concur Travel Booking Tool: The online Concur Travel Booking Tool is powered by SAP Concur and combines the many discounts available to UT employees for travel-related expenses in one central system. In addition to the streamlined processes available when using this resource, the Concur Travel Booking Tool will become even more important in the next year. If you are new to using the Concur Travel Booking Tool, the Office of Finance website includes introductory training materials, as well as detailed instructions that explain how to book travel for someone else.

K@TE Learning Management System: If you are looking for professional development opportunities (including available IRIS training resources), the K@TE Learning Management System (LMS) is your one-stop destination. The K@TE system is a comprehensive learning platform that grants UT employees access to hundreds of in-person and online professional development opportunities – all in a single online system. The Employee and Organizational Development website provides frequent updates about new offerings available in K@TE and instructional “Job Aids” about using K@TE.

Existing Purchase Orders (University-Wide): A list of all active, existing University-wide purchase orders is available when you first log in through the IRIS Web Portal and access this “Other” tab. When purchasing goods or services using one of the University-wide purchase orders, you are not required to pursue a bid or request sole-source approval – also known as a non-competitive justification. (The Procurement Services website provides a helpful “How Do I Buy” page, which explains the steps you should take and considerations to keep in mind when initiating a purchase.) You should always review this list of University-wide purchase orders prior to submitting a requisition or a non-competitive justification for approval. The Procurement Services website includes information about training opportunities and recorded video tutorials that explain these existing agreements in more detail.

  • For any questions related to this list of University-wide purchase orders, refer to the “Contact Us” page of the Procurement Services website.

Taleo Applicant Tracking System: Taleo is the University’s “Applicant Tracking System” (ATS), which enables hiring departments to monitor and manage the hiring process online. When accessing Taleo using this “Other” tab in the IRIS Web Portal, you are connecting to the “back-end” portion of this system. The UT System Human Resources website includes the “front-end” access to Taleo (where applicants can apply for jobs), and UT campus recruitment offices provide additional information about accessing this system. If needed, a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” about Taleo and the recruitment process is also available on the UT System Human Resources website.

The “Ask the IRIS Helpdesk” feature is one of the recurring articles you will find in each IRIS Insights issue, and the questions included in each issue are often inspired by recent, real-time questions posed to the IRIS Helpdesk. If you have a question related to the IRIS system, ask the IRIS Helpdesk!

Question: How do I uninstall an older version of the SAPGui desktop client and install the most up-to-date version available? 

Answer: As previously mentioned in this IRIS Insights issue, it is critical to ensure you are always running the most current SAPGui desktop client. If you need to uninstall an older version of the SAPGui desktop client and install a current version, this IRIS Help document provides the step-by-step instructions for this process.

A few additional notes about this process are included below:

  • To work through these steps and install this software on your computer, you must have administrative rights to the computer itself. If you do not have administrative rights to the computer, your departmental or campus IT representative must handle this process for you.

  • The SAPGui desktop client software cannot be downloaded to a Mac computer. If you use a Mac computer and need to access IRIS, please refer to the “Accessing IRIS Remotely” feature in this IRIS Insights issue.

  • When you start the actual installation process for the SAPGui desktop client, clicking inside the “Users” checkbox with this prompt, as shown in the screen shot below, is one of the most important steps to take. Please ensure you click inside this box!

Question: Now that I installed an updated version of the SAPGui desktop client, I need to ensure my settings in IRIS are still correct. What settings in IRIS need to be checked?

Answer: If you are new to using IRIS or need to update certain settings in this system, an entire “General Settings” folder is available on the IRIS Help website. The “General Settings” folder includes step-by-step tutorials and documents that highlight the settings that should be updated for a few of the most frequently used IRIS transactions and reports.

For this IRIS Insights issue, we are excited to introduce our newest feature, “IRIS News and Announcements”, to you!

As we all know too well, keeping up with an extensive list of deadlines and tasks may be a bit overwhelming at times. To do our part and help you tackle this responsibility, we plan to highlight a few high-level announcements, updates, and reminders for you in each IRIS Insights issue moving forward.

A majority of this information is provided through the IRIS Users Listserv and published on the IRIS Administrative Support website for future review. If you have any questions about the announcements included below, please contact the IRIS Helpdesk. (To view additional information about each update below, click on the introductory, underlined link.)

Announcement: The “Estimated Availability of Scholarship Income Report” is currently available in the IRIS system and may be run until the end of April 2020. This report is only available from February until the end of April every year.

Update: Due to the rapidly evolving local and national situation, the deadline for the annual “Equipment Inventory Verification” process has been waived. The previous April 30, 2020 deadline no longer applies, and as the work environment becomes more stable, a new deadline will be set. This communication will be issued through the IRIS Users Listserv.

Reminder: The annual “2020 IRIS Maintenance Schedule” is published on the IRIS Administrative Support website. This schedule is available in an updated format and includes any scheduled maintenance periods for IRIS throughout the current year.

Reminder: If you would like to opt out of receiving paper W-2 forms for the next year, you are now able to do this in the IRIS Web Portal. When logged in to the IRIS Web Portal, click on the “Employee Self-Service” tab and then choose the “W-2 Opt Out of Paper” link under the “Most Frequently Used” heading.

With travel restrictions in effect at all UT campuses and institutes, the UT System, in coordination with its campuses and institutes across the state, is continuing to provide important information about travel reimbursements for any work-related travel that has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

If you – or other employees in your University department – have been affected by these restrictions or cancellations, the list below includes the steps you should take next.

Out-of-Pocket Expenses – The University will reimburse employees for all out-of-pocket expenses associated with a trip that has been canceled due to the coronavirus. These reimbursements include airfare, hotel cancellation fees, conference registration fees, and any other prepaid items. For these reimbursements, process the expenses through the TRIP – Travel Manager transaction in the IRIS system, flag the expenses as the appropriate “Exception to Policy”, and indicate in the “Comments” field that the trip was canceled due the coronavirus. You will be reimbursed for these expenses.

Expenses Paid Directly by the University – For travel expenses paid directly by the University, ensure that any refunds for prepaid items, such as conference registration fees, are credited back to the University.

Travel Cash Advances – Any unused travel cash advances must be promptly repaid to your Campus Business Office. If a travel cash advance has been requested but not received for a canceled trip, contact your Campus Business Office immediately so that they may cancel this request.

Airfare – Unless your flight was canceled by the airline, a refund will typically not be available. The airline ticket, however, may be used for future business travel for one year from the date that the ticket was purchased. Depending on the issue date, the airlines may also waive the change fee. The future trip does not have to be in the name of the initial traveler, but the airlines may charge a fee for changing the name. The University’s travel agency, World Travel Services, will assist with this process when the airline ticket was purchased through World Travel. (World Travel may be contacted at 877-210-8189.) No action is needed on your behalf until you are ready to rebook a business trip. If the airline ticket was not purchased through World Travel, you will need to contact the airline directly to reuse these tickets. These unused tickets may not be used for personal use.

Employees are encouraged to follow the lead of their campus leadership for more specific guidance related to these processes. If you have additional questions, contact the UT System Accounts Payable Office at 1-877-210-8189.


Many University departments handle travel-related reimbursements for UT student employees who are responsible to their own department, as well as for UT student employees who are responsible to other departments.

In the past, when handling these travel-related reimbursements for UT student employees outside of one’s own department, the originator had to either contact the responsible department for assistance or complete additional paperwork that was time-consuming.

In order to address this inconvenience, a change was made to the IRIS system in December 2019. As a result of this improvement, any department may now enter travel expenses for any UT student employee in IRIS – regardless of where the responsibility for the UT student employee lies.

Human Resources

To address a concern raised by State Auditors, the IRIS Administrative Support team enhanced the current “Termination e-Form” IRIS workflow process.

The IRIS system now automatically schedules the shutdown of any applicable IRIS access at 5:00 PM (Eastern or Central Time, as appropriate) on a UT employee’s last day of work – as requested on the Termination e-Form and after it is approved by the departmental-level approver in IRIS workflow.

The IRIS workflow instance also notifies other participating NetID-based systems to shut down access to those systems. Previously, these shutdown steps were scheduled at 7:00 PM, Eastern and only occurred after the employee record was officially terminated at the completion of the IRIS workflow process.

To help us protect our data and fully comply with State Audit requirements and UT Policy, we encourage you to submit a Termination e-Form as soon as possible when an employee is leaving the University. (This practice should include “Students”, “Temporary” and “Regular” employees.)

With the evolving national climate and its impact on our University community, accessible and virtual learning opportunities are more important than ever before. To help accommodate these needs and provide services to a more wide-reaching UT population, the IRIS Administrative Support team has been engaged in discussions about how to make the best of this situation and transform the methods through which IRIS training courses are offered.

As a result of these discussions, we have decided to focus our time on making new video recordings of our IRIS training courses available to everyone. This will allow the IRIS Administrative Support team to, at least temporarily, transition away from the traditional, in-person IRIS training course format – while still making these resources available to each of you! To focus on this task, we have canceled the remaining IRIS training courses for this semester and will provide an update about these new recorded IRIS training courses very soon. (The IRIS training course videos will be made available in the K@TE system for you to take at your own pace and whenever works for your own schedule!)

By making this change, UT employees across the state of Tennessee will be able to take an IRIS training course from anywhere and at any time. We will no longer be limited by a particular location, class size restrictions, the confinement of a physical training lab space, or the restrictiveness of a given day and time.

This new process is still being developed, and we have notified all currently registered participants of these changes. We hope that these changes will help us reach an even greater number of IRIS users located throughout the state of Tennessee.

In addition to these changes, IRIS Customer Support representatives will continue to offer “IRIS Helpdesk Office Hours” sessions virtually through Zoom. The IRIS Helpdesk Office Hours sessions are hosted by the same team members who manage the IRIS Helpdesk email address, and these sessions provide an opportunity for you to receive real-time assistance with your IRIS-related questions or needs. The IRIS Helpdesk Office Hours sessions are available for registration in the K@TE system.

As an additional training-related update for you, Employee and Organizational Development is also providing frequent updates for the University community, as well as new opportunities for us all to learn more about working remotely and how to adjust to this new reality many of us are facing. When you log in to the K@TE system, search for these learning opportunities by typing “Remote” in the “Search” field. The IRIS Administrative Support website will soon feature helpful telecommuting information for you as well, so make sure you check back for these updates. 

If you ever have a question about learning opportunities for IRIS, or its related platforms, please reach out to the IRIS Helpdesk. We are all here to work through these changes together!

IRIS Administrative Support

600 Henley Street, Suite 412

Knoxville, TN 37996