Higher Education

Higher Education, Western USA

"Having the budget and actual details together in one spot is like a dream come true. We can add and subtract rows, show the various reports and help users break the budget procrastination barrier. Questica Budget performed perfectly.”

Program Management Director

About the University

The University’s Summer Quarter Program is one of the largest in the nation, offering nearly 2,000 courses to 15,000 students each year.

Total student enrollment

15,000

 Courses involved

2,000

Business Need

The University required a flexible system that would combine ease of use for administration with advanced forecasting and reporting tools for administrators. It needed to be configurable to accommodate future needs and able to talk to their data warehouse.

Questica Budget Suite

The University selected Questica Budget for the entire budget development of their summer quarter program. It provided the best combination of ease of use, control, and configurability. Questica configured the system to accommodate their unique security and data warehousing needs.

Business Benefits

  • Flexible, intuitive application
  • Real-time budget data
  • Integrated and secure web-based system
  • Unlimited “what-if” scenarios
  • Advanced reports with ad hoc capability
  • Budget status tracking

Business Challenge

The University’s Summer Quarter runs its budget on an October 1st through September 30th cycle. This runs outside of the main budgeting cycle for the University but still requires all the elements of the standard budget cycle.

 

Budgeting and reporting for the Summer Quarter was conducted and administered through a series of individual, unlinked Excel files. These spreadsheets were prepared by administrators so that University staff could e-mail updates back and forth as changes were made and budgets approved.

 

This is a typical approach to budgeting, but it significantly limits the functionality of budget preparation and management, particularly the continuity and integrity of the data. The process ends up being largely one-way in nature and changes made to budgets after approval often don’t make their way back through to all stakeholders. Version control is very difficult, as is maintaining trustworthy links between spreadsheets used to consolidate data.

 

The University needed a budgeting and reporting System that would provide automated creation and management of the budgets. It needed to provide University administration direct access to the budget in a controlled environment that allowed for constructive changes within a controlled workflow approval process. Administrators also needed planning tools to analyze and forecast the overall Summer Quarter Program budget using both traditional and unique ad hoc reporting methods, yet they also wanted to drill down to specific course level budgets and report on individual budgets in detail.

 

With the budget data being analyzed by different groups in the University, any new budget system also needed the flexibility to be easily customized. It needed to integrate with their internally developed security authentication protocol, as well as allowing integration with internal data warehousing architectures. Finally, it also needed to be scalable, to accommodate all their course-level budgeting in the future.

 

Solution

The University issued an RFP to find systems to fit their requirements. Questica Budget was selected as the right solution to meet their existing needs as well as support future growth.

 

‘In over 30 years of IT project experience, I have never felt more confident and at ease knowing we are dealing with a totally honest, well-mannered and talented group of people.’ – Software Development Director

Business Benefits

Questica Budget provides the University many advantages over their previous budgeting method.

A flexible, intuitive application

Key to the selection of Questica Budget was its flexibility. In addition to a collaborative budget entry environment that includes staff and revenue projections, Questica Budget provides the tools to analyze the total budget at the macro Summer Quarter Program budget level, or with a more granular course level budget detail. It also addresses their specific needs including:

  • Benefit Loading Business Rule allowing users to enter a specific position/salary type, which automatically adds the required benefit lines associated with that position/salary type.
  • The University can centrally administer benefits. Changes are automatically applied across the whole system, saving time and eliminating the risk of human calculation error or data re-entry.
  • Questica Budget saves the staff time by automatically loading course budget data for users. They can then set up an enrollment page, add the necessary course information and student count. It also automatically generates revenue and budget information for the course.
  • The flexible architecture of Questica Budget means it can handle the many complexities of the University’s existing budgeting process as well as future process changes.

 

Real-time budget data

The Summer Quarter works on a different budget cycle than the rest of the University, but still needs to be able to provide actual versus budget variance data at any point through the year. With Questica Budget, budget data, reports and associated documentation are available quickly within the system.

 

“We’ve already seen a time savings from having used the Prepare Next Budget Year function.” – Program Management Director

Budget status tracking

Questica Budget provides users the ability to track budgets throughout the approval and evaluation process, and based on their role in the process, hop in and out within a controlled environment as their input is required.

“Questica Budget is making my job enjoyable and valuable this year. I can quickly find what I need from a single transaction, to trends across campus.” – Program Management Director

 

Integrated and secure web-based system

Questica Budget integrates with the University’s complex data warehouse system, providing real-time budget data in a secure web-based environment.

 

The University uses an internally developed security system to provide enterprise-wide authentication for all applications. Questica developed a tool that would enable Questica Budget to communicate with this security system via web services. It instantaneously loads each user’s specific security settings each time they open Questica Budget and ensures they can only access data within their security level. This tool enhances the University’s seamless approach to security.

Unlimited “what-if” scenarios functionality

The ability to create unlimited “what-if” budget scenarios without impacting the current active budget enables the University to determine the most effective budget to meet their needs.

 

Creating multiple versions, which consider numerous outcomes, without having to recreate each budget version from scratch, saves time. Once a budget has been selected, that version can be published while the other scenarios can be kept for future consideration or reference.

 

Reports capability

Flexibility within the reporting system was a key consideration in the University’s selection of a budgeting system. With Questica Budget, the University has access to over 100 standard reports, and the ability to create ad-hoc reports as required.

 

Questica Budget provides University Management with the summary reports required to understand financial viability of its’ Summer Quarter course offerings. It also makes it possible to drill down to the fine details behind these summaries, to identify specific revenue and cost line items within the data.

 

Reports can be run differently for ‘baseline’ budgets versus approved ‘planning’ budgets versus working ‘operational’ budgets.

 

Thanks to more efficient budgeting, the University is brilliant.

FacebookTwitterEmail