Cash flow visibility clears the path for growth and student success.

Liberal arts college cuts costs and maximizes financial resources with a holistic view of data and operations.

Generated accurate reports within a day or two

Submitted reimbursements in several hours, not weeks

Closed the books each month without delays or gaps

The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) established Guilford College to teach and instill ideals such as equality and community. Those ideals live on in the school’s core values.

The ultimate goal—to provide the next generation of students with a practical liberal arts education—remains as well. But in recent years, Guilford College leaders knew they needed to revamp their time-consuming and inefficient HCM and financial processes to meet that goal.

“Like most small colleges, one of the big challenges is managing our finances,” says John Wilkinson, CFO at Guilford College. “How do we maximize limited resources for our students but also give our employees the salary, benefits, and support to succeed?”

Visible cash flow.

Leaders believe a big part of the answer is using Workday products to manage their outdated patchwork of legacy financial and HCM systems, which made it difficult to get a holistic view of data and operations. “With most of the smaller institutions that have closed, leaders didn’t have that information clearly and readily available,” Wilkinson says.

One notable improvement, Wilkinson adds, is cash flow reporting, which is readily accessible and visible in one unified system. “Within our Quaker tradition, we like to talk about transparency and integrity,” Wilkinson says. “When somebody asks, ‘Where do we stand financially?’ I can run the cash flow report and say, ‘Here’s our income statement. Here’s our balance sheet. It’s all right here.’”

Closing the books at Guilford College was transformed from a time-consuming, laborious process into one its staff can accomplish monthly.

When somebody asks, ‘Where do we stand financially?’ I can run the cash flow report and say, ‘Here’s our income statement. Here’s our balance sheet. It’s all right here.’

John Wilkinson, CFO

Improved financial occurrence and governance.

The new system replaces spreadsheets, which Wilkinson says included massive files related to enrollment because they had to be frequently reforecast. “We can now quickly pinpoint one item,” Wilkinson says.

Wilkinson says the accounting team has a clear view of where the money is coming and going. “We always say in the accounting world that every dollar has a home. Now it’s true. If I see somebody is starting to overspend, we can apply the brakes instead of upending the whole accounting system.”

It also eliminates the issue of front-loading finances. “In the past, that resulted in having no money left for the rest of the year,” Wilkinson explains. “That’s no longer the case.”

More self-reliant.

The new system gives teams the tools to accomplish tasks independently, helping to increase employee productivity. The school’s finance team, for example, can now run its own reports. Likewise, the budget team can run its own analytics. Spend categories and accounting codes are in the right place each time.

“My team’s not spending months moving everything around, putting it in the right place to prepare for an audit,” Wilkinson says. “It takes a little work to set it up. But the benefits make the investment well worth it.”

Workday Human Capital Management (HCM) has also provided Guilford with more opportunities for staff to be self-sufficient from the first day they start work. The system includes a built-in user checklist, meaning employees can access its functionality immediately without waiting to be granted the necessary permissions.

Visibility across HCM and finance has been transformational for Guilford. “It’s very encouraging for me to know that I have knowledge, and that knowledge is power when it comes to how we make our decisions,” Wilkinson says.

We’re happy with Workday because when a problem arises, it no longer takes weeks to resolve.

John Wilkinson, CFO

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