Athabasca College (AU), Canada’s Open College, is devoted to eradicating obstacles that limit entry and success inside university-level examine and growing equality of instructional 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 aims 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 an absence of belief and collaboration. To repair this, Lengthy Huynh, Director of Determination Assist, was introduced on board to work with the workforce to meet two aims:
- Roll out a Finance Enterprise Accomplice (FBP) Program, which targeted on constructing a workforce of finance people 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 straightforward 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 methods. The outcome was elevated belief and collaboration from all schools and departments whereas growing the pace and agility of the monetary reporting, budgeting and forecasting processes.
- Lack of transparency: The information for monetary reporting was nested inside totally different platforms with totally different ranges of entry. Funds house owners struggled to know 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 principle ERP system. Budgets needed to be manually uploaded, making it difficult to combine actuals and forecasts.
- Restricted entry to knowledge: Some knowledge—comparable to HR and payroll—was troublesome 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 considered one of their main price centres.
Earlier than implementing the answer, the monetary knowledge was scattered throughout totally different platforms with various ranges of entry. Funds house owners couldn’t simply entry their price range data, which prompted them to depend on particular people to elucidate studies as a consequence of siloed knowledge and sophisticated 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 an absence of integration between their outdated 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 show the ability of built-in useful resource planning by means of IBM Planning Analytics (PA).
The main target initially was on creating a variance and forecasting mannequin inside PA that mixed price range and precise knowledge from supply methods in a user-friendly answer accessible to numerous stakeholders throughout the college. Not like their outdated system, PA enabled day by day computerized uploads from their ERP and supplied well timed entry to totally different reporting hierarchies and variances, and it gave the flexibility to drill down on transactional knowledge. Funds house owners may log in and consider 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 numerous price range house owners.
“It was such a foundational change to how we appeared on the budgets—from a guide add of knowledge that could be a month outdated or perhaps a quarter outdated to each night time. It modified the pace at which we are able to make selections and see what is occurring.” — Lengthy Huynh
The second section: Workforce and HR integration
As soon as the preliminary mannequin was constructed and knowledge from Banner was built-in instantly with IBM Planning Analytics (PA), the main focus turned to HR (particularly workforce) to higher perceive one of many college’s main price centres.
Beforehand, HR tightly guarded payroll data as a consequence 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 knowledge by place was integrated into the mannequin, offering visibility into labour prices, emptiness price financial savings and headcount, whereas nonetheless sustaining knowledge 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 into extra agile inside the decision-making course of.
“Payroll is the most important piece of the expense pie, and a radical and correct understanding of it’s required for an correct forecast. Now, we are able to forecast by every place and see the influence in-month and into the longer term.” — Lengthy Huynh
To handle privateness and knowledge 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 quite than names. This enables managers the transparency and element required to make knowledgeable selections whereas sustaining sufficient safety and privateness.
Built-in useful resource planning: A holistic strategy
The journey continued with a concentrate on 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 information, resulting in collaboration challenges, model management points and guide knowledge 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 higher possession and eradicated the method of price range house owners sending numbers to finance and finance doing the entry.
Beforehand, inconsistent finance data throughout totally different schools and departments led to poor or inaccurate forecasting and budgeting practices.
The rollout of the Finance Enterprise Accomplice 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 expertise of the FBP workforce—mixed with the streamlined planning processes and methods—that made it potential.
“Earlier than, a number of selections have been made behind closed doorways. Now, the college has moved to built-in planning, so it is extremely 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 show how PA may very well 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.
By 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 supplied the mandatory infrastructure for efficient collaboration and assist between finance and price range house owners.
The journey to reinforce transparency and belief inside the college’s monetary processes resulted in vital 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 direction of data-driven decision-making and collaboration.