Several big city school districts are now projecting 15 to 25 percent cuts in overall revenue going into next school year, reported the Washington Post in May 2020. Planning for potential budget cuts is tough in every sector — cities, government, heathcare, non-profits and schools. However, in many K-12 schools, continued use of manual processes makes it difficult to control cash flow and track how funding is being used. Educational institutions are planning for uncertainty with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and K-12 school administrators need to find more efficient methods of managing their budgets. By automating their budget processes, schools can gain control of their spending and have deeper insight into how their budgets can be adjusted during times of uncertainty and change.
The benefits of budget automation
Budget automation empowers K-12 schools with the ability to work efficiently, track and control spending within a centralized system. Automated workflows for entering, changing and approving budgets saves time and provides schools with deeper insight into their budget to optimize funds. Some of the benefits include:
1. Efficient, streamlined process
K-12 school administrators using manual processes to consolidate information from staff, enter data into spreadsheets and check for errors are often frustrated with this labor-intensive method. In the length of time it takes to complete these processes, schools miss the opportunity to gain insight on the how the budget is being spent and what they can do to allocate funds more wisely. Budgeting software that allows schools to automate processes, such as approvals for budget amendments, will create a streamlined workflow that is efficient and can reduce the number errors that occur using spreadsheets. With the time saved, schools can analyze the budget and make better decisions on how to serve students.
2. Greater visibility into the budget
Manual processes don’t allow K-12 school administrators to properly track spending and unallocated expenses can get lost in the shuffle of information being passed back and forth. Instead of being surprised at the end of the budget year with unallocated expenses, schools can track spending in real-time with an automated process that notifies departments or program owners if they have unallocated funds or are at risk of overspending. With budget data in a centralized location, schools not only have a better view of the budget, but they can be more transparent and accountable about their spending.
3. Increased accuracy
Any system that relies on manual data entry and calculations is at risk for errors, including spreadsheet budgeting that uses multiple versions of files, the exchange of emails where miscommunication is likely to occur, and using formulas where one wrong number in the wrong place can create chaos. When schools can’t trust the accuracy of their budgets, they simply can’t make good strategic decisions or understand if their spending is helping to achieve the school’s goals. Automating the budgeting process streamlines the collection and consolidation of budget data, and the approval of budgets within a centralized system. This reduces errors by creating one source of data truth, instead of having information in different files or locations.
4. Ability to adjust to changing business conditions
Whether schools open or move to online learning as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, K-12 schools face new spending challenges. In this regard, schools can use forecasts and scenario planning to plan budgets that gives them flexibility to adjust to changing business conditions. However, it’s difficult to create forecasts manually or use spreadsheets for scenario planning. An automated system that houses data in a central location allows schools to maintain control over the budget being developed, while also using the data to create forecasts and what-if scenarios.
Automate your budget with Questica Budget
Spreadsheets and manual processes hamper the budgeting process for K-12 schools, and prevents administrators from gaining important insights to make better decisions. Questica Budget is a powerful solution that provides a centralized cloud-based system for housing budgets and creates a single source of data truth for K-12 schools to get real-time information about their spending. Schools can create their budgets while tracking user submissions and changes with an automated workflow that saves time and reduces the occurrence of errors. Instead of doing more with less, schools can easily create reports, scenarios and analyze data in Questica Budget to learn how to optimize their funds and help successfully adjust to new budget challenges.
To learn more about the Questica Budget Suite of cloud solutions for K-12 school budgeting and transparency, read one of our blogs or white papers, take a product tour or sign-up for one of our free monthly informational webinars.