In an educational institution, the heads of various departments think and budget differently—and you have a diverse set of people who are not finance professionals or Excel experts trying to feed in numbers, on to a common spreadsheet. This approach almost always results in data entry errors, in advertent formula changes, lack of ownership and general chaos. “Our approach is user-centric, we don’t believe that faculty and staff should have to become Excel experts. Instead, we are walking them through a question and answer process that helps them budget easily – while giving the finance department exactly what they need to execute on the institution’s strategy,” states Dacko.
XLerant’s budgeting software, BudgetPak, extends revenue and expense planning with specific capabilities for headcount planning and equipment planning for the next year. The product offers something called situational budgeting where the user is presented with a choice in the way they budget— some will want to budget by entering a number, others want to have a percent increase or decrease from last year, by the number of people in the department, or some want a free-form modeling capability. “The users get to budget their areas and accounts the way they think about their accounts,” explains Dacko. The product also has the intelligence to spread an annual number into monthly numbers based on a number of factors including the most popular: historical seasonality of the account in an individual department.
While serving customers across a variety of business segments, BudgetPak has been successfully implemented in higher education institutions with as few as 700 students to as large as 55,000 students. In one such successful implementation at Union County College, Dona Farlow, the Director of Budgeting describes the process before and after BudgetPak. “It was primarily done on paper and then keyed into Excel. The process was extremely time-consuming and full of uncertainty. BudgetPak is the best fit, with tools for both financially oriented people and, an interface that is intuitive to those less comfortable with numbers. We estimate a fifty percent reduction in time spent on budgeting.”
With a Turbo-Tax approach for higher education budgeting, faculty and staff don't have to struggle with Excel - instead they are actively engaged and the finance team gets reliable numbers
The added advantage from BudgetPak is in functionality that applies only to higher education. “When you have more customers in higher education then you understand the uniqueness of that market,” says Dacko. “For instance, institutions pay their professors over a 9-10 month time period rather than over the course of the year. Our budgeting can accommodate that,” he adds.
On XLerant’s future strategies, Dacko believes in adding capabilities that bring more value to the budgeting process in higher education.