Create school board financial reports in minutes? Yes, you can.

Business

Financial systems for school districts are great tools to accurately record revenue and expense transactions. But, as anyone who is charged with creating monthly reports can tell you, that’s where their ease of use ends. It typically takes hours — even days — of work to manually extract the right data and then build reports the district relies on to manage the health of the budget.

As a former chief financial officer of a large district in suburban Chicago, I know how much time my finance team devoted to the process every month. In addition to driving strategic financial decisions, the reports were a critical part of how we kept the district’s administrators and school board up to date. We had no choice but to dig in to get the information we needed.

I knew someday there would be a better way.

That’s why I’m so excited about Frontline’s Budget Management Analytics, powered by Forecast5. Instead of hours or days, with just a few clicks of the mouse the module creates monthly (or quarterly, year-to-date, custom, whatever you need) reports in minutes. The time formerly needed just to compile and generate the reports can now be used to analyze the results, identify trends and confidently predict where you’ll be at the end of the fiscal year.

Reports in minutes

Around the middle of the month, when the bank reconciliation for the previous month is available, a school district simply uploads data from their financial system to Budget Management Analytics, which then automatically updates the financial database on a year-to-date and projected basis. Then, it’s Go Time.

Standard reports

Based on pre-set templates, Budget Management Analytics analyzes the appropriate data and generates a standard set of reports and a dashboard view of revenues and expenditures. This is the information that helps CFOs gauge where they are at for the year and make strategic decisions to cut expenses if needed or invest in key initiatives like technology if excess funds are available.

In addition to the aggregate report, fund specific reports are generated automatically.

Now there’s time to dig deeper if needed to better understand the causes of variances by looking at the data from a different view.

For example, if there’s interest in the current revenue variances for the educational fund, the Revenue Input Results report is readily available.


 
It’s also easy to pull up the Expenditure Input Results report for the educational fund (or any other fund) to quickly understand where expenses are incurred.

Custom reports

Creating custom reports to answer specific questions from administrators or for personal analysis purposes also only takes a few minutes. View all funds or a specific fund, specify the level of detail needed by indicating a source level, and identify the monetary threshold for review. Results pop up in seconds.

Respond quickly to colleagues or uncover answers to internal queries without ending up in the weeds filtering out data that’s immaterial. Easily change what data is reviewed by picking different parameters for the analysis.

Put time on your side

Instead of devoting lots of time to the generation of reports, now there’s a simple and fast way to access all the data from multiple angles with the ability to produce more accurate analyses. Budget Management Analytics enables school districts to focus on managing the future with projections based on trends and up-to-date information that minimizes the margin of error…with some time to spare.

David Torres

David Torres served at Forecast5 Analytics, now a Frontline Education company. Prior to that, he worked as a Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer for over 30 years at Township High School District 211, in Palatine, Illinois. During his extensive experience as a CFO, he successfully engaged in the development of several strategic planning projects and long-term capital improvement programs. David received his BA in Business Economics, and has a MA and certification in school business management.