The budgeting demands within an academic institution are inherently problematic—do more with less. As Bucknell University developed its new strategic goals, it was clear that increased funding for diversity and inclusion programs was key, but money needed to be reallocated from within existing departmental budgets. Using spreadsheets to figure out where to save among departments was inefficient and not driving Bucknell to achieve its goal.
Instead, the Bucknell FP&A team adopted Workday Adaptive Planning together with Workday Human Capital Management and Financial Management, and trained its 150 users how to input and report on their budgets.
The seamless workflow that resulted ensured that all budget owners along the way could easily input current budget data, which in turn made its way up the chain to the vice presidents, the deans, and the president of the university. These university decision-makers, who previously left budget reviews to their operations managers because they were so complicated, now collaborate and check in daily on budget status. The result is a collaborative effort that has led to reallocating budget dollars toward the university’s strategic initiatives.
Lack of cross-departmental engagement in planning.
As the number of spreadsheets grew to 200, convincing more than 150 department cost center managers to work together to manually track budgets and reallocate resource dollars was nearly impossible.
Issues with data integrity.
With spreadsheets, department cost center managers were never confident that the rolled-up number was correct, and verifying the data ate up countless hours each month.
Limited reporting resources.
A small finance department of two was struggling to provide timely reports on variance in a flat-budget year to 150 users and to input the revisions coming back in return.
Executive involvement was lacking.
Department heads were not taking the time to get involved in the budget cycle because it was too complicated; it was impossible for someone like the dean of Arts and Sciences to look across 75 budgets and understand what’s going on.
Greatly improved collaboration.
Workflow functionality ensures that all users are engaged in the approval process so that everyone in the chain has to review the budget in order for it to move on. This has also allowed the finance team to open up the conversation on where they are spending money and question if it’s the correct way to allocate resources.
Automation increases accuracy and saves time.
Automating the process so that data entered by cost center managers rolled up automatically removed the hours spent manipulating and verifying data, allowing the finance team to complete the budget process one week before the board meeting for the first time.
Self-service increases engagement.
With self-service capabilities, budget owners no longer enter sporadically but now stay engaged all year long by running reports to see at a high level who submitted budgets, who didn't, who requested increases, and who gave money back at any given time.
Ease of use leads to more exec involvement.
Deans and vice presidents who used to leave complicated budgeting to their operations manager find Workday Adaptive Planning so easy to use they now regularly spend five to 10 minutes daily willingly going into the system for a snapshot view of their department’s budget activity.
We just did a survey of all the Workday Adaptive Planning users. Everybody loved the tool, especially at the higher levels where they could see in a snapshot all of the budgets that they once had to review one by one.
Director of Budgets and Financial Modeling