Athabasca College (AU), Canada’s Open College, is devoted to eradicating limitations that limit entry and success inside university-level research and growing equality of academic alternatives for grownup learners worldwide.
To assist their mission, AU outlined their “Think about” Technique, which was a five-year plan outlining strategic precedence outcomes for the establishment. Underpinning the execution and making certain alignment with their targets required a collaborative built-in planning course of. The problem was that the annual planning and subsequent forecasting processes have been a significant impediment as a result of lack of transparency and entry to related well timed data for decision-making, leading to a scarcity of belief and collaboration. To repair this, Lengthy Huynh, Director of Resolution Help, was introduced on board to work with the workforce to satisfy two targets:
- Roll out a Finance Enterprise Companion (FBP) Program, which centered on constructing a workforce of finance of us who may collaborate with school members and division heads on monetary/enterprise plans, remodeling finance into advisors to the enterprise versus compilers and producers of studies.
- Streamline the built-in planning and forecasting course of, making it simple for customers to entry data, monitor variances in spend and initiatives and allow school members to re-forecast and in the end personal their numbers.
To help with this transformation, AU started working with us at ActionKPI—a Efficiency Administration Consultancy specializing in built-in useful resource planning—to assist outline a roadmap and phased strategy to re-architecting their planning processes and techniques. The outcome was elevated belief and collaboration from all colleges and departments whereas growing the velocity and agility of the monetary reporting, budgeting and forecasting processes.
- Lack of transparency: The information for monetary reporting was nested inside completely different platforms with completely different ranges of entry. Price range house owners struggled to grasp their budgets and had issue accessing related data, understanding variances all through the month and main as much as the quarter.
- Guide and siloed budgeting: The budgeting course of relied on an antiquated system that was not user-friendly and disconnected from the primary ERP system. Budgets needed to be manually uploaded, making it difficult to combine actuals and forecasts.
- Restricted entry to information: Some information—equivalent to HR and payroll—was tough to entry, hindering monetary evaluation and decision-making. They weren’t capable of get insights into labour prices and make correct budgets and forecasts on one among their main value centres.
Earlier than implementing the answer, the monetary information was scattered throughout completely different platforms with various ranges of entry. Price range house owners couldn’t simply entry their price range data, which brought about them to depend on particular people to elucidate studies because of siloed information and complicated nuances.
Moreover, Athabasca College’s budgeting course of was hindered by an unintuitive system that operated independently from their ERP system, Banner. Guide uploads and a scarcity of integration between their previous system and Banner added to the complexity and time-consuming nature of the budgeting course of.
The journey begins: Improved price range visibility
After preliminary discussions with ActionKPI, Lengthy Huynh and the finance workforce noticed the chance to exhibit the ability of built-in useful resource planning via IBM Planning Analytics (PA).
The main target at the beginning was on creating a variance and forecasting mannequin inside PA that mixed price range and precise information from supply techniques in a user-friendly resolution accessible to varied stakeholders throughout the college. In contrast to their previous system, PA enabled every day automated uploads from their ERP and offered well timed entry to completely different reporting hierarchies and variances, and it gave the power to drill down on transactional information. Price range house owners may log in and look at their budgets at any time, clearly understanding their monetary place and empowering them to actively take part within the budgeting course of and take corrective motion to satisfy targets. This enchancment considerably enhanced transparency, belief and accountability amongst their varied price range house owners.
“It was such a foundational change to how we seemed on the budgets—from a handbook add of information that may be a month previous or perhaps a quarter previous to each night time. It modified the velocity at which we are able to make choices and see what is going on.” — Lengthy Huynh
The second section: Workforce and HR integration
As soon as the preliminary mannequin was constructed and information from Banner was built-in straight with IBM Planning Analytics (PA), the main focus turned to HR (particularly workforce) to higher perceive one of many college’s main value centres.
Beforehand, HR tightly guarded payroll data because of privateness necessities, leading to restricted entry and inadequate granularity.
To beat this problem, AU and ActionKPI developed a workforce variance mannequin inside PA that encompassed the FTEs and positions on the college, versus workers. Precise school payroll information by place was included into the mannequin, offering visibility into labour prices, emptiness value financial savings and headcount, whereas nonetheless sustaining information safety and privateness.
Having this workforce element allowed school members and departments to revise their FTE plans and subsequent labour prices, making a rolling forecast. This not solely improved the forecast accuracy however enabled AU to turn out to be extra agile throughout the decision-making course of.
“Payroll is the largest piece of the expense pie, and an intensive and correct understanding of it’s required for an correct forecast. Now, we are able to forecast by every place and see the affect in-month and into the long run.” — Lengthy Huynh
To handle privateness and information safety considerations, the finance workforce collaborated with HR to find out the suitable wage element every price range proprietor may entry. Every supervisor can solely see wage particulars for workers inside their hierarchy and solely place numbers are proven relatively than names. This enables managers the transparency and element required to make knowledgeable choices whereas sustaining enough safety and privateness.
Built-in useful resource planning: A holistic strategy
The journey continued with a give attention to built-in useful resource planning. The college aimed to transition from closed-door decision-making to inclusive, built-in useful resource planning that concerned stakeholders from throughout the group.
Previous to this initiative, useful resource plans and proposed price range modifications have been submitted as separate Excel recordsdata, resulting in collaboration challenges, model management points and handbook information entry.
ActionKPI built-in the price range and useful resource planning processes into IBM Planning Analytics (PA), permitting for a streamlined strategy. This additionally enabled a democratized course of the place price range house owners collaborate with their Finance Enterprise Companions to replace their price range entries. This supported better possession and eradicated the method of price range house owners sending numbers to finance and finance doing the entry.
Beforehand, inconsistent finance data throughout completely different colleges and departments led to poor or inaccurate forecasting and budgeting practices.
The rollout of the Finance Enterprise Companion Program contributed to the success of the built-in useful resource planning course of by offering personalised finance assist and advisory to every division. It was the monetary acumen, ardour for customer support and data-driven decision-making abilities of the FBP workforce—mixed with the streamlined planning processes and techniques—that made it potential.
“Earlier than, a number of choices have been made behind closed doorways. Now, the college has moved to built-in planning, so it is rather inclusive. Virtually each price range holder is concerned within the course of versus simply finance.” — Lengthy Huynh
Finance Enterprise Companions, assigned to every division, labored carefully with price range house owners to exhibit how PA might be utilized to enter, monitor and visualize price range modifications over time.
This integration fostered collaboration, transparency and knowledgeable monetary decision-making all through the college.
Via this mannequin, Athabasca College achieved improved forecasting consistency and high quality. The FBP mannequin wouldn’t have been profitable with out the implementation of PA, because it offered the mandatory infrastructure for efficient collaboration and assist between finance and price range house owners.
The journey to reinforce transparency and belief throughout the college’s monetary processes resulted in important enhancements.
By implementing IBM Planning Analytics and integrating budgets, actuals and useful resource planning, the college achieved higher visibility, streamlined processes and elevated stakeholder involvement.
The initiatives undertaken by Lengthy and his workforce not solely remodeled monetary decision-making but in addition contributed to a cultural shift in the direction of data-driven decision-making and collaboration.