Modern Planning and the Shifting Landscape of Higher Education
Authors: John Beringer and Sam Kubek
The landscape of higher education, once reliably stable, is seeing increased volatility. Changes in funding, budget and scrutiny into how money is spent put increased emphasis on transparency and planning across the organization. Universities are measuring performance at an increasingly granular level- not just by school or even an entire department, but down to the course or class level, and having tools and technologies in place to support these analytics is essential.
Higher Education – a Decentralized Business
The variety of ways in which a university serves the dual missions of education and research, and the decentralized model under which most institutions operate, pose a unique management challenge. Planning is critical to the success of a university, so how does an administrative team address the disparate needs of each department and handle the complexity of aggregating the pieces?
Historically, universities have used single-purpose planning platforms for the development of an aggregated budget. Individual departments may compile their plan in offline spreadsheets, and input the plan into a pre-built webform. The challenge here lies in the ability to measure spending throughout the year, as the desired level of detail may not exist in the planning tool (e.g. fund-level detail). To properly manage the various plans across an organization, it’s critical to have a tool that meets the requirements of each, with the flexibility to adapt as these needs evolve.
Anaplan in Higher Education
Anaplan maintains the enterprise security model and scalability of a traditional planning platform, while providing the flexibility to serve a variety of user types and use cases.
Enrollment and Cohort Modeling:
- Plan detailed enrollment numbers, as well as tuition and financial aid projections for each existing cohort and incoming class.
- Identify retention trends and transfers between individual colleges or majors, and use this information to run scenarios around projected tuition increases and levels of aid.
All Funds Departmental Budgeting:
- Using the detailed tuition revenue and financial aid forecasts developed in the enrollment model, each department has a starting point for the revenue side of their budget equation.
- Anaplan can manage total departmental expense budget, from employees to auxiliary expenses.
- Plan for all types of employees, from part-time student workers and pooled faculty resources, all the way to tenured professors, using a single platform, integrated with HR systems.
Forecasting and Actuals Reporting:
- With Anaplan’s easy to use API, automate integration with your GL (Banner, Peoplesoft, SAP) to pull in actuals that enable real-time forecast updates as the year progresses.
- By understanding overage projections in the operating budget before they happen, departments can manage their restricted funds more effectively.
Room & Board Planning:
- Connect enrollment projections not only to your tuition and financial aid forecasts, but to room-and-board planning.
- Advanced insight gives facilities managers a more accurate and connected forecast for pricing, and allow them to meet individual staffing needs at each dorm or dining facility.
Class and Course Profitability:
- Plan down to class-level detail within a course to assist in developing course schedules across departments.
- By understanding historical enrollment trends based on class traits (mode of instruction, time of day, course level), departments are better able to plan a class schedule that meets student needs while optimizing profitability.
RCM and Allocation Methodology:
- Anaplan’s flexible platform makes modeling and tweaking allocation methodology easy. The budget office can develop any number of allocation methodologies and apply them to previous years to create pro-forma statements and understand how each allocation will affect colleges across the institution.
- Once cost allocation consensus is reached, Anaplan can track these allocations on an ongoing basis, facilitating a more RCM-based approach.
Connected Planning Across the Institution
Anaplan’s flexibility and the connectivity of the various models allow each of the models to be configured in myriad ways, so an institution can begin wherever the need is most critical, implementing a basic departmental solution and building out ancillary models that support the departmental requirements as needs are identified.
Universities and planning processes must change to keep up with a fast moving and increasingly digital world. The ability to analyze that change has never been more essential, and a flexible platform such as Anaplan is best positioned to manage that change. As we all know, once something catches on in higher education it quickly becomes the new gold standard, and Anaplan is well on its way to becoming that new gold standard in Higher Education planning.