Cloud Technology for the Education Sector

Cloud technology is changing the way that businesses operate. For organizations with various departments in different locations, a cloud application isn’t always obvious. Such is the case with schools. But before we talk about cloud technology, let’s take the first step by looking at the data that management uses to make operating decisions.

Understanding school data

Numbers plus statistical information equal ratios. And ratios are performance metrics that reveal the short and long term health of your business or school. Metrics are driven by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and demonstrate what’s important to manage or guide decisions.

Important KPIs for schools include:

  • Active (compared to the last 5 years) and future enrollment
  • Current drop/refund liability
  • Attendance rates by instructor, class, program, and/or campus
  • Anticipated financial aid
  • 90/10 Ratio
  • Payroll vs Total Expenses
  • Cash flow requirements

Integrating Your Financial Data

Integrating systems provide efficiencies by reducing data entry inside the accounting platform. Systems include: Student data, an accounting system (financial data), human resources (employee data), and facility management (property data). In most schools, the data is in different locations, so it’s impossible to correlate the information for operating decisions.

Cloud technology offers educators an opportunity to maximize integration of data for real-time management decisions.  With the cloud, integrated platforms that produce KPIs allow owners and school administrators to see department profitability and cash flows at the 30,000-foot view.  By integrating the student management system with the accounting platform, schools manage trends and benchmarks to plan for campus realignments or expansion. Educators can maximize real-time data with ‘ground to cloud’ data transmission or experience after-the-fact management reporting. Cloud technology already defines our current culture and it can be a game changer for a school’s future.

Cloud accounting dashboards are the starting point to monitor KPIs as well as dig into the details through drillable elements. And because dashboards are simple to create, every department/executive manager can have the most relevant view of information without having to wade through unnecessary reports and data. You may also engage visualizations that were previously available only with external reporting tools. Such data helps you understand at a glance how the business is trending, but you also have the ability to drill down all the way to the underlying vendor invoice or deposit slip because it’s all maintained in your cloud-based platform. You may also filter and organize the data on your reports and dashboards by the business drivers that are important to you. A multi-dimensional general ledger gives you the best management reporting available in any financial system.

Below are questions to ask yourself to help determine if cloud technology is right for your business:

  • Where are you still relying on Excel for monthly reporting?
  • What are the KPIs that you’re using to manage your growing business? (financial and non-financial)
  • How long is it taking you to close every month? And how long does it take to put together your monthly reporting packet after that? (quantify days and people)
  • Beyond the top-level summaries of performance, how does management like to view the business?
  • Is it important to understand revenues and profits by product? By location or facility or business? Revenues by customer? Expenses by vendor?
  • How would your company benefit from improving the monthly reporting process?

Please talk with Salmon Sims Thomas if you want to explore options for moving your current system to the cloud. We can help you explore your upside and manage the process from installation through maintenance.