Today, college and university budgets are under unprecedented scrutiny – while simultaneously managing financial challenges such as lower enrollment, decreasing revenue, rising expenses, and shrinking grants and endowments.
In order to reduce costs and maximize investments, higher education institutions are tasked with the development of innovative strategies, including student retention, program optimization, and IT upgrades.
The success of these new initiatives hinges upon effective budgetary planning, forecasting, and analysis – including the ability of finance and leadership teams to work hand-in-hand with department heads and budget officers to foster a culture of communication, accountability, and strategic thinking. Unfortunately, traditional Excel-based budgeting adds complexity to an already difficult challenge:
- Faculty and staff struggle with Excel-based templates
- Too much time spent on data entry; not enough for analysis
- No easy way to document and report on the rationale behind the numbers
- Limited transparency into the process and version control challenges
- Lack of budgetary engagement, accountability, and ownership
“I’m working with 60 different budget officers, and with Excel it was tough for them to build in justifications and line-item detail. So many aspects were difficult – bringing historical data in from prior years; moving the spreadsheets out to the budget officers, up through the head of the division for approval, and then back to me for accuracy checks; trying to make sure to lock down the spreadsheets so people couldn’t change my formulas. And there was no good reporting tool.”
Stacy Buckingham, Dean for Financial Operations, John A. Logan College
Meeting Higher Education’s Unique Budgeting Needs
At XLerant, our founders experienced first-hand the time-consuming frustrations of budgeting and forecasting with Excel. And we understand that colleges and universities need a solution that works for the finance team as well as the department heads and faculty. That’s why we created BudgetPak, a cloud-based budgeting, forecasting, and reporting solution purpose-built for higher education institutions like yours.
“The best benefit for WJC is that the BudgetPak system saves us so much time. The manual three-day Excel forecast process can now be done in a matter of three hours; it’s a huge change from the old process.”
Dan Brent, CPA, CFO, William James College
Higher education finance and executive teams need a budgeting system that is not only efficient, effective, and easy for users – but also purpose-built for their specific needs in these turbulent economic times. With BudgetPak, colleges and universities across the nation are able to plan and accomplish their budgetary goals.
“One thing we really like is the ability to document our assumptions. In other words, to put down what the money is going to be used for, how we came up with that number, and what goals we are achieving by spending the money.”
Donna Farlow, Director of Budgeting, Union County College
BudgetPak’s award-winning interface is designed to make data entry easy and efficient, so that budget managers can spend less time thinking about the software and more time ensuring their numbers are in alignment with institutional strategy.
“Yes, we got more flexibility and yes, we got more financial controls and formality to the process. But the culture change was the real goal. Managers are now much more attuned to their numbers.”
Curt DeFriez, Controller, Western Governors University
“The implementation went very well and was even better than we expected. We have 110 budget managers and got zero complaints.”
Cheryl Warner, Controller, Northwood University
BudgetPak offers higher education institutions important benefits, including:
- Improved department head participation and ownership in the budget process.
- Better understanding of the budget – both institution-wide and departmental-specific initiatives.
- Documentation of details to support the numbers; increased accountability and transparency.
- Greater accuracy and more time for thoughtful analysis.
- A faster budget cycle with enhanced situational budgeting capabilities.
- Detailed salary and headcount planning.
- A comprehensive trail of budget information from one year to the next.
Resources for Higher Education Institutions
publications (TWO COLUMNS THREE PER COLUMN)
Graduating from Excel to Purpose-Built Software
In this eBook, follow the journeys of two higher education institutions as they transform their budgeting process from homegrown spreadsheets to a purpose-built solution.
Top Ten Benefits of Responsibility Center Management
In this eBook, learn about a strategic approach to resource management, allocation, and planning that can lead to improved engagement and ownership from faculty and staff.
Collaborative Higher Education Budgeting in the Cloud
In this eBook, discover how technology that facilitates a transparent budget process can improve budget manager engagement and support an institution’s strategy.
Strategic Budgeting for Community Colleges: A Mission Critical Endeavor
In this white paper, learn about linking departmental budget requests to campus-wide goals and the importance of fostering collaboration, visibility and accountability for a more transparent budget.
Infographic: Summary of Higher Education Survey Results
This infographic is a summarization of a recent survey of higher education finance professionals who use Excel-based budgeting.
BUSINESS OFFICER MAGAZINE:
SELF-SERVICE BUDGETING AT DREW UNIVERSITY
An analysis of the challenges Drew University experienced with Excel based budgeting, and how the University partnered with XLerant to address them.
(TWO COLUMNS – TWO PER COLUMN)
Live at CCBO Conference: Business Officer Roundtable
Featuring: Brad McCormick, VP for Business Services and College Facilities, Russell M. Litke, VP for Administrative Services, San Juan College John A. Logan College; Steve Miller, Interim Controller, San Juan College; Andrea. Weaver, Interim Assistant Controller, San Juan College. This interactive roundtable will examine the “budgeting journey” of two community colleges moving from Excel-based spreadsheets to a collaborative budgeting solution.
The Art of Forecasting: A Pragmatic Case Study with Dan Brent
Featuring: Dan Brent, CPA, CFO, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP is now William James College). Dan Brent explains his method for easily and flexibly revising the budget throughout the year – while keeping users actively engaged in the process.
The New Normal in Higher Ed
Featuring: Jeff Ginsberg, Director of Fiscal Affairs and Central Services, Bunker Hill Community College and Cheryl Warner, Director of Budgets, Northwood University. The panelists discuss managing the new normal of decreasing revenue, increasing costs, and unprecedented levels of scrutiny on the budget.
Community College Roundtable: Why is budgeting mission critical?
Featuring: Liz Murphy, CEO from CampusWorks, Inc.; Stacy Buckingham, Dean for Financial Operations, John A. Logan College; Donna Farlow, Director of Budgeting, Union County College; and Steve Miller, Assistant Controller, San Juan College. The panelists share their experiences (both challenges and successes) with budgeting in their institutions.
(TWO COLUMNS – FOUR EACH PER COLUMN)
Case Study: NORTHWOOD UNIVERSITY
Learn how Northwood University cut $200k using BudgetPak’s salary planning tool – and why users are raving about the new system. Download Case Study
Case Study: WILLIAM JAMES COLLEGE
Learn how BudgetPak has helped William James College easily combine budgets, actuals, and forecasts into one system, saving them time and effort.
Case Study: John A. Logan College
Learn how BudgetPak eased John A. Logan’s transition to a modified zero-based budgeting model and facilitated $500,000 worth of timely adjustments.
Case Study: San Juan College
Learn how BudgetPak made it possible for San Juan College to re-forecast and budget-adjust based on actual enrollment throughout the year.
Case Study: Bunker Hill Community College
Learn how BudgetPak helped Bunker Hill Community College keep its actual expenditures within 0.6% of the budget.
Case Study: Fisher College
Learn how BudgetPak helped facilitate the move from a two-year women’s college to a four-year coeducational institution.
Case Study: Union County College
Learn how BudgetPak helped Union County College realize a 50% reduction in time spent budgeting.
Case Study: Western Governors University
Learn how Budgetpak helped Western Governors University transform their budgeting culture from top-down to employee-centric.