Account-Ability works with over 50 universities across the UK and Ireland. We have developed a number of planning, forecasting and reporting solutions for the sector. Account-Ability has developed standard university planning models for many of these solutions.
University Planning solutions
Cost centre budgeting, planning and reporting
Working with UK universities, they tell us that budgeting, forecasting & reporting should:
- Be faster and less resource intensive
- Drive financial and operating performance
- Support, with scenarios, the achievement of financial sustainability in a rapidly changing and competitive environment
- Incorporate automated self-serve web-based reporting
These goals are vital to universities in today’s ‘business landscape’. But frequently implementing them is perceived as ‘difficult, lengthy, and expensive’.
The majority of universities produce budgets in excel work books. The budget cycle often takes 3-6 months to complete. The budget cycle is resource intensive with accountants producing budget templates for schools and departments to complete.
By implementing Corporate Planner you can achieve your goal for performance driven planning & reporting, including the following benefits:
- Browser-based, integrated reporting, automatically produced for each budget holder
- Budgeting, planning & re-forecasting with version control
- Automatic consolidation – no more nightmares with Excel
- Faster planning & forecasting, reducing the planning cycle and labour required
- More buy-in from managers
- Planning using measures of activity and resource to drive financial & operational performance
- Full scenario planning capability so that you can manage risks better in a rapidly changing competitive environment
- Easy connection to all sources of data, not just finance, for reliable data import
Integrated Financial Planning
Short and long term financial planning models are often created in Excel. These models are often complex and time consuming to change. Many institutions often speak of the same problems:
- Different Models for in and multi year plans
- Multiple spreadsheets for I&E, BS and CF planning
- Many errors and broken links
- Slow to create and change
- Cannot run Scenarios
- Hard to understand the outputs when factors changed
- Not enough detail
Corporate Planner has an specialist award winning application CP Finance to solve these planning problems.
- Understanding the risks & uncertainties and explaining options will be easier
- The university will be able to make ‘better decisions’
- Conversations with the Regulator and financial institutions will be easier
- You will save time and money
- Links to statutory financial consolidation
Watch a short introduction video below.
TRAC & TRAC T
Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) return is an annual activity based costing return completed by all institutions. The TRAC return presents the full economic costs and income of an institution split into Teaching, Research and Other activities.
The data is vital for the government and funding bodies to asses the health and utilization of public funds within universities. The data is used in forming government policy. For institutions not claiming exemption the TRAC return also sets the overhead rates that can be charged onto research council projects.
Understanding the results of TRAC and submitting an accurate return is vital. Immediate impacts of incorrect overhead rates are:
- Loss in confidence internally from researchers and the academic community
- Under / overstate teaching costs affecting TRAC T
- Not being competitive on bidding for new research (high rates)
- Loss of income over the life of a research project (low rates)
Over 40 universities use Corporate Planner for completing the TRAC and TRAC T returns. Account-Ability has been helping universities complete the TRAC return since the original TRAC pilot.
We have years of experience helping institutions not only complete the statutory return but also provide a wealth of internal management information from the process.
Most excel models that we have replaced have had fundamental errors. in the allocations are only discovered under close scrutiny see the problems with excel. In many cases the errors were from out of date guidance or inappropriate use of drivers. For the latest TRAC guidance please see the trac website. The key advantages of a Corporate Planner TRAC model are:
- Multi Year analysis. Costs and income accounted for differently between years can cause serious errors on the TRAC return. Having multiple years of TRAC side by side can remove this error.
- Scenarios (e.g. this years costs last years TAS). You can create multiple scenarios in seconds. Easily understand the impact of changing a driver.
- Driver weightings allowing for fast flexible allocations of costs
- TRAC returns take 1-2 days to create – numerous universities say it has accelerated the creation of the return. Some institutions have draft numbers in September with Corporate Planner models.
- Departmental restructures can be implemented rapidly – many excel TRAC models we encounter are not changed following structure changes some are 3 or 4 structures old as it is too difficult to change the excel model.
- Detailed TRAC reports at university, faculty and department levels
- Robust models known by auditors
- Data that can be used for course costing