Data management in higher education financial reporting presents significant challenges for Finance teams to navigate. And while some of these challenges resemble those shared by other types of organizations, higher education Finance teams must contend with many data challenges specific to their domain. More specifically, data management challenges within higher-education institutions arise from various causes, including multiple funding sources, diverse revenue streams and complex regulations.
What are some of the complexities in data management that higher education Finance teams face?
One of the primary complexities for financial reporting is that higher education institutions must manage and report on multiple funding sources. Such sources can include government grants, private donations, tuition and fees, and endowment income. For each funding source, Finance teams must then follow a corresponding and unique set of regulations and reporting requirements. That variability makes it difficult for Finance teams to ensure compliance and accurate reporting.
Another complexity in data management is accommodating for diverse revenue streams common in higher education institutions. These streams can include student housing, dining services, bookstore sales and other auxiliary services. Because each revenue stream has its own set of financial transactions and reporting requirements, Finance teams face challenges when aiming to consolidate and report on the overall financial performance of the institution.
In addition to funding and revenue data, higher education financial reporting, budgeting and planning all draw on a variety of other data sources. Some of those sources include human resource data, including staff/faculty salaries and benefits, and facility data such as physical assets.
Additionally, complexities in data management for higher education financial reporting include the following:
Many higher education Finance teams struggle with the complexities above and find it difficult to accurately report on the financial performance of the institution and ensure compliance with regulations. Why? The struggles mainly occur because many higher education Finance teams rely on a mix of tools, such as siloed spreadsheets, legacy corporate performance management (CPM) software and BI applications. Doing so means Finance must invest an inordinate amount of time and manual effort to manage data instead of focusing on building decision insights that benefit the institutions.
How can Finance teams overcome these challenges?
Many higher education Finance teams have answered that question with a modern CPM Finance solution. OneStream (see Figure 1), for example, enables Finance teams to conquer data complexity in higher education financial reporting by providing the following capabilities:
Want to learn more about how OneStream can empower your higher education Finance team? Download our Higher Education solution brief, or contact us for a demonstration.