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K-12: Forecast the Future to Fight Budget-Busting Surprises

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How many line items are in your K-12 annual budget? 750? 1000? More? That’s a lot of places for the unexpected to creep in and mess with your carefully crafted financial plan. Save the surprises for birthday parties by getting a better handle on what’s headed your way with a process called operational forecasting.

School district budgets are complicated. While it’s impossible to anticipate every shift in expected revenues and expenses, there are ways to get better visibility into monthly performance at the aggregate level and identify trends based on historical data. By combining and analyzing past and present financial reports, you can forecast what’s needed to support the remainder of the fiscal year and make adjustments.

Sounds complicated and time-consuming, right? Fortunately, Frontline’s Budget Management Analytics simplifies the process.

See into the future

Like most school districts, you likely have a financial system that’s great for logging and assigning transactions to specific line items in your funds. But that’s where usability hits a wall. To extract meaning from all the stored data, you need to search for what you need, then painstakingly cut-and-paste the information into a spreadsheet making sure all your formulas are working properly. Only then can you play with the data to come up with a useful analysis.
Or, you could simply upload monthly transactions from your financial system into Budget Management Analytics. Then, you can easily run standard or one-off reports to assess where you’re at compared to plan, look at trend reports from previous years, identify variances and model ‘what if?’ scenarios. The module does the heavy lifting leaving you time to apply what you learned to manage the budget. It’s all done in a matter of minutes versus the hours it takes to create manual reports.

Monthly re-forecasting

Ready to stop surprises in their tracks? It’s important to undertake a key element of operational forecasting: variance analysis.

With Budget Management Analytics, you’re able to identify significant variances to the annual budget plan using present thresholds quantified as dollars or percentages. You can also uncover what caused the variances as well as assess the impact.

Armed with this information, you’re able re-forecast the remaining monthly allocations, reallocate funds to address the unexpected and fund priority initiatives if needed.

The data you need to start operational forecasting is buried in all those line items. You just need a better way to put the data to work to remove the element of surprise from your budget management process.

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Stay Ahead of the Game: Tips for Managing This Year’s Budget While Planning for Next Year How can you avoid being data-rich but information-poor? Download Now