Financial professionals in higher education, whether private or public, face additional challenges when budget planning. This is because their budgets are not just based on historical data. Projected student enrollment, grade performance, alumni donations, and scholarships can influence the forecast for the fiscal year’s budget. A more agile, comprehensive, and efficient budget planning process is needed to better utilize finance resources.
Today’s Budget Planning Challenge
Not knowing where an institution stands or how past decisions have impacted the bottom line means you essentially fly blind into the next fiscal year. To be effective, decisions must be data driven. You need to infer from historical data across multiple departments to make accurate projections for the next year and confidently approve additional headcount, projects, or initiatives. Historical data is key to these assumptions, and data management plays an important role. Depending on the sophistication of your reporting and planning tools, this can quickly become a labor-intensive process. Finance needs tools that can provide direct access to ERP data into Excel as the starting point for the next budget cycle and to enable tracking of budgets against actuals over time.
The Changing Landscape of Budget Planning
In addition to the traditional budget considerations, future trends in education—such as the rapid growth of online learning, digital credentialing, smart campuses, wireless presentations, and predictive analytics—will require financial analysis to determine where the institution’s money should be spent. With all these moving parts, the modern educational finance team needs to be a more agile with the ability to respond quickly. The current time-consuming, labor-intensive processes are not sustainable for the long term.
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Solution
Fortunately, there are comprehensive budget planning software packages out there to help. With the right solution you can streamline your budgeting process, use historical data to justify spending, and make accurate budgeting projections.
By addressing budget planning with the right solution, you will be able to:
- Pull data from multiple sources into a single report for comprehensive reporting that reflects the entire institution
- Reduce manual effort and email chains associated with approval workflows to expedite the budget cycle
- Support funding initiatives like growing student enrollment with timely, data-driven decisions supported by real-time ERP data
- Shrink budget and planning cycles by integrating budgeting, forecasting, and planning data with your ERP actuals in real-time
- Have easy access to accurate historical data to evaluate potential educational program offering changes and determine whether current models are sustainable
- Accelerate the planning process by enabling collaboration through embedded commentary and discussion threads throughout the budget cycle
- Support agile budget planning and allow finance to partner in cross-departmental strategic decisions by drawing content from multiple ERP sources
- Streamline budget creation and distribution by integrating planning data with live ERP actuals
Beyond planning, more higher education institutions are measuring and communicating their financial health with KPIs. These metrics are important to be able to understand the impact of costs and change in order to create sustainable business models and seek new forms of revenue and funding. Updated reporting tools and automated data access can help you to measure progress on KPIs, such as:
- Excess of fund revenues over expenditure
- Scholarship expenditures as a percentage of total fund revenues
- Endowment market value
- Administrative spending per student
- Admissions and enrollment
Are you ready to take your budget planning process to the next level? The right solution can streamline your manual processes with automatic data collection, pull real-time ERP data directly into Excel, and allow you more time for analysis, KPI tracking and informed decision-making.
insightsoftware provides robust budget planning tools to take the manual steps out of your day. Easily access historical and real-time ERP data to ground your financials in reality. You can transform Excel reports into interactive web reports for easy distribution throughout your institution. Get a personalized demo.