Data, Dashboards, and Decision-Making

August 24, 2018

Data, Dashboards, and Decision-Making

PAISBOA General Survey Closes October 5
PAISBOA Salary Survey Closes October 12

With the help of our Survey Gurus (Tom Devine, Frank Aloise, Larry Capuzzi, Mark Gibbons, David Gold, and Jayme Karolyi), the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey launched on August 6. Our member schools and universities use a variety of surveys; however, the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey is the only survey built for and by business officers with a focus on operational and salary benchmarking. Best of all, the results are geographically relevant. We encourage all our schools and universities to participate this year — more schools equals more data!

To that end, the Survey Gurus will host three 30-minute Q&A Webinars -- on Thursday, August 30 at 2pm, Thursday, September 20 at 2pm, and Tuesday, October 2 at 10am -- to help new schools get started. Additionally, we have figured out a way for our university members to participate and will host a webinar on Wednesday August 29 at 10 am to see if there is interest with this group. Click Here to register if you'd like to join us!

For you veteran participants, Sections 23 and 24 have been streamlined. Section 23 aligns with your audited financial statements and Section 24 is 5 (five) numbers!

Tom Devine, chair of the Survey Gurus, shares, “The best suggestion I have is for the Business Officers to start now and set a goal of spending 15-30 minutes per day knocking out some portion [of the survey]. By now we have most of the information we need to complete it and the rest will come when audits are completed. There is no need to go in order of questions – you can jump from one section to another as long as you complete and save each section.”

The results of the survey are available in time to use them in your budget process, and come with easy-to-use charts and graphs for comparisons. As for how to use the data from the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey, Tom shares two of the multiple ways he uses the survey results 

  1. Vendors – If we are considering a new vendor, I look to see which schools use which vendors. I then glance through the recommendations and call a few of my counterparts at those schools to get more specifics on the vendor’s pricing and reliability. It is much easier than doing a listserv question (to which I usually respond that answers are available in the general survey),
  2. Salaries – Our Head of School, Finance Committee, and Board like to get a report during our budget process as to how our faculty salaries compare to those of our peer schools. This information has been invaluable in giving all groups confidence that we are properly compensating our Faculty in our largest expense item.

Data Driven Decision Making (D3M) is not a new concept by any means, and it can be time consuming and awe-inspiring at the same time! We have also seen a flurry of posts to the elists about creating dashboards that work in our schools and universities. With all the data available to us, it is important to choose the appropriate data to share with boards and school leaders. Finding the right balance between TMI and not enough can be tricky.

Here are some resources that I have used with boards and non-profit leaders:

A Nonprofit Dashboard and Signal Light for Boards – is very easy to use, simplifies your presentations, and keeps your board focused on your strategic initiatives. Blue Avocado has other great resources for boards.

Dashboard for Nonprofits from The National Council of Nonprofits – offers examples of dashboards and dashboard tools as well as resources about dashboards.

Models and Components of a Great Nonprofit Dashboard – offers insight into the process of creating a dashboard that works for your organization.

Here are some resources that should be helpful in depicting financial sustainability in independent schools and universities:

Picture This: Best Practices in Financial Dashboards – shares great advice about determining the data points that are meaningful to your school/university.

Beyond the Dashboard: The Financial Sustainability Heat Map – looks at key indicators of the financial health of a school/university.

We look forward to receiving your PAISBOA Annual Data Survey results and stand ready to assist you every step of the way. If you have questions or need encouragement, reach out to Ron, Tom and me via email, and we will help you get back on track.

Thank you, in advance, for your participation in the PAISBOA Annual Data Survey. As another benefit of membership in PAISBOA, this is one more way PAISBOA supports the work of the Business Officer and our member schools and universities.

Take advantage of the Power of the Flock!


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