This article was originally published on OneStream.com by Michael Johansen
Speed and Agility Are More Important Than Ever
While accuracy, transparency, and consistency are the backbone of accounting and financial operations, adding speed and agility is what ultimately separates the institutions that deliver consistent value from those that struggle.
And as the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic flies by, speed and agility have never been more important for leaders in higher education.
These leaders have been repeatedly forced to adjust daily operations. But they now face another obstacle: reconciling visions, plans, and budgets with a historic disruption that has created dips in enrollment, leading to a critical loss in revenue (see Figure 1).
Chart: Natalie Schwartz/Higher Ed Drive, Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center
Those revenue losses naturally put pressure on the Finance team. And while pressure is nothing new to financial leaders in higher ed, COVID-19 and its complexities have undermined many institutions to the point where they’re no longer trying to balance budgets through cuts and efficiencies. Instead, schools must rethink and restructure their business models.
Board members, presidents, and deans – all of whom carry huge responsibilities – are thus demanding more consistent and timely data inform their decisions.
Accounting and Finance teams must therefore modernize to streamline processes, unify outputs and empower leadership with the information needed to not only make key decisions but also pivot when necessary. After all, the total economic and operational impacts of the pandemic are not yet known, but one thing is certain: complexity and the rapid pace of change are the new normal.
What’s on the Way in This Blog Series
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be laying out why higher-ed leaders need a modern, platform-based approach to planning, budgeting, and forecasting. We’ll also cover how to speed reporting and analysis cycles – and we’ll lay out the roadmap to show you how to make that a reality.
Below is a breakdown of the topics and related challenges we’ll cover along the way:
- Budgeting- Does your annual budget process take too long due to manual data integration with core systems and an over-reliance on spreadsheets for modeling? Even after all that effort, do you lack visibility into the funding sources across the organization? If you’re relying on outdated systems and processes, it makes aligning financial plans to strategic goals difficult. Why? Well, focusing on institutional priorities requires precision – and precision is a key benefit that enterprise performance management software brings to the table.
- Long Range Planning/Forecasting– Does your long-range planning process produce stagnant documents that are often out of date before the end of the first quarter? With so many moving pieces, state funding sources, research, endowments, ever-rising costs, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to keep your plan and your forecasts relevant. Predictive analytics and forecasting solve that dilemma.
- Reporting/Analysis (Signaling)– Traditionally, reporting has been used to monitor and communicate progress toward the goals and priorities outlined in plans and budgets – so reporting has historically only looked backward. Moving forward, we want to enhance the reporting function. To empower leaders to receive and quickly understand financial and operational positions. To give leaders the data and insights needed to pivot when and where it’s necessary to course correct or take advantage of opportunities. Financial signaling makes it all happen.
The Better Alternative – A Unified Platform
OneStream has empowered hundreds of organizations (including dozens in the public sector) to unleash the power of Accounting and Finance by unifying planning, budgeting, forecasting, reporting, and analytics through a single, extensible solution (see Figure 2). This solution is delivered via a cloud platform designed to evolve and scale with your institution.
Why should you care? Well, here are just a few of the key benefits you get with OneStream’s budgeting and planning software:
- Analyze alternative what-if scenarios and funding options on key liquidity, debt covenants, capital structure, and more.
- Simplify the entry of planning revisions with dynamic web forms or the comfort of Excel to instantly create or update plans or forecasts.
- Unify granular operational plans with financial goals with over 50 OneStream MarketPlaceTM solutions (e.g., People Planning, Capital Planning, Cash Planning, and Thing Planning).
- Administer, create and maintain predictive models without technical or data science expertise.
- Create signals and insights on daily and weekly working capital, controllable costs, enrollments, and other KPIs.
- Automate monthly financial reporting packages using MS PowerPoint® and Excel® integration.
- Maintain audit trails and data quality control checks.
Let’s Connect and Continue the Discussion
While you may not yet be a customer, we appreciate your work in the public sector and value your opinion – and we’d love to explore opportunities where we can move forward together. At OneStream, our mission is simple: “Every customer is a reference, one success at a time.”
For more information, download the Higher Education Solution Brief. Want to continue the discussion? Have any questions? Contact us, and one of our experts will reach out to you ASAP.