Adaptive Insights for Higher Education

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Josh Ladd, Senior Associate CMC

At this year’s Adaptive Live event, I attended a session entitled Education: Adaptive Best Practices. A panel of three Adaptive Insight’s customers representing their respective institutions shared their experiences with the group. They related how smoothly their implementations went and enjoyed the fact they did not have to commit significant resources to the project. There was a general consensus that they felt well-connected with their implementation teams even though projects were managed remotely. Weekly meetings were key in facilitating open communication, milestone updates and system reviews.

The session provided a Q&A period that allowed prospective customers to ask questions about moving forward with Adaptive Insights. The panel spoke highly about their implementation teams and how they helped them through the process. They related how Cloud skepticism had been eliminated internally through their project success. They also mentioned they were able to reduce IT overheads and expenditures – a big plus for university IT departments that are already overstretched. Another big takeaway from the panel was the ability to easily train their users on the Adaptive system as it is very intuitive. They spoke to an evolution of trust with Adaptive that allowed them to expand their deployments and add new users. They expressed a growing confidence with each new budget cycle and each new rolling forecast. Lastly, the panel raved about the amount of time that was saved with Adaptive reporting. Updating and formatting reports was reduced from weeks to mere days.

As an Adaptive implementation specialist, I have personally found that Adaptive is a perfect fit for Higher Education budgeting and planning. Enrollment models can be built according to your requirements, whether you want it at a high level or more detailed at the semester or program level. Multi-year forecasting is a necessity in Higher Education and very easy to do in Adaptive. For example, you could do a five-year outlook with various growth assumptions for student enrollment and tuition revenues. Assumptions can be easily updated allowing for quick insight into how the changes affect your bottom line. Extending the enrollment model, you can then create a Room and Board revenue forecast, as well as a financial aid model. Furthermore, endowment models can be built and maintained in Adaptive. You are able to roll forward your endowment value using a specified rate of return, all the while including spending and gift additions. You are able to calculate the permissible spend rate for the year which will drive the amount of spending you are allowed each year.

As you can see, Adaptive truly is a great, comprehensive solution for Higher Education. At CMC, we have a growing list of university customers. Indeed, we are now the Number 1 Adaptive Partner for Higher Education. Contact us today to learn how we can take budgeting and planning to a new level at your institution!

Adaptive Live 14 Highlights

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Michael Johnson (AGF Financial) with Chris Pinto (CMC)

If you attended the Adaptive Insights conference, Adaptive Live (#ALive14), I think you would agree that it was an impressive and energizing event. For those like myself that have been working with Adaptive since the early days, this year’s conference really felt like a whole new ballgame. With nearly 1,000 attendees, double the previous year’s participation, Adaptive’s key event has officially moved beyond a user group meeting and is now a fully-fledged conference. If you missed the event, don’t make the same mistake again. Here is a recap of some of the highlights:

1) Billy Beane, the thought leader and revolutionary general manager of the Oakland A’s, got this finance crowd worked up with his stories of how analytics has transformed the game of baseball. His story is well known from the book and movie Moneyball, but hearing him talk on this topic was extraordinary. The key takeaway for me was that data analysis alone wasn’t what made him successful. It was finding ways to look at data differently, transforming data into information and creating competitive advantage by finding correlations before everyone else. This concept can be applied to any business and industry if you look beyond the obvious and really understand the drivers of success.

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A Special Thanks to our Customers at Adaptive Live 14

Dallas Moody and Josh Ladd at Adaptive Live

Dallas Moody (CMC), Dave Miller (Sandvine), Josh Ladd (CMC)

At CMC, we place the utmost value on long-term relationships with our customers. You need only look at our Mission Statement to get a sense of our commitment to their success. For that reason, it was especially gratifying that our clients including Sandvine, Root Capital, VEIC, Circles, Conservation Services Group, AGF Financial, Virtual Inc., Exo-S, Sound Physicians and many more attended the Adaptive Insights Adaptive Live 2014 conference in San Francisco, CA. As a sponsor of #ALive14, we recognize that it takes precious time and money to attend these events. This year’s conference was certainly a great investment as it provided an opportunity to learn about new Adaptive features and share best practices with peers from a wide variety of industries. A highlight of the conference was the presentation given by Bryan Woliner, Director of Financial Planning at Root Capital. Root Capital has been a customer of ours since 2011. Bryan eloquently spoke to the value of Adaptive in their organization and shared insights into their creative use of multiple instances and dimensionality. The folks at Root Capital have an extraordinary goal of assisting grassroots businesses in poor rural areas with capital, financial training, and connections to ethical supply chains and we are honored to work with them. All of us at CMC would like to give a heartfelt thanks to our customers who participated in this event!

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Are you looking at the right metrics to effectively manage your business?

marketing-lessons-grateful-deadVirtually all finance departments produce monthly reporting and analysis packages to aid business leaders when making key decisions. The question we have to ask ourselves: Are these reports and metrics creating true value and business insight? Are we looking at the right metrics or is it all just useless data? To address this we will look to an unlikely source but as the Grateful Dead’s song Scarlet Begonias states: “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right”

It’s no secret that Marketing and Finance departments have a longstanding love & hate relationship…meaning they love to hate each other. Finance views Marketing Directors as free spenders without concrete proof of value and Marketing sees Finance Leaders as simple bean counters that only care about the bottom line. So it was interesting to see Brian Halligan, founder and CEO of Hubspot, an innovator in marketing transformation and inbound marketing, be one of the keynote speakers at the CFO Roundtable technology conference this past Thursday at Bentley University.

What was even more amazing was how this marketing leader captivated the attention of 200 Boston area CFO’s for over an hour. This was partly attributable to his unorthodox stories about marketing tips from his book, Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. (He divulged that the Scarlet Begonias quote above is one of his personal favorites from years of following the legendary band while at UVM). He then kept the attention of the room with bold statements like “The best marketing people are the ones with no experience,” which received a laugh from all in attendance. While this all made it an interesting start to the day, the talk really resonated with the CMC team in attendance when he brought up the subject of key metrics.

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Finance Leadership Through Technology – How the Cloud Elevates FP&A

Carlson CPM-solutions for businessTop CFOs see themselves as catalysts of enterprise-wide collaboration and seek to empower business units with self-service analysis and predictive “what if” planning capability to anticipate future challenges to success. The status quo of using spreadsheets for financial performance activities is no longer acceptable due to their inherent risks and limitations. Just run a Google search on “spreadsheet errors” and you will read about some of the catastrophic outcomes that companies have experienced due to their reliance of spreadsheets. With spreadsheets having been identified as a significant risk factor in effective financial planning and analysis, why do so many organizations continue to rely on them.

We see three main misperceptions preventing organizations from moving to more appropriate technologies:

1. Investment in the latest technology is too expensive – Businesses spend significant amounts on GL systems and other transactional systems. Ironically, when it comes to spending on the critical value-added activity of financial analysis, planning and budgeting, many organizations fail to get executive-level consensus to invest in point solutions that contribute to competitive advantage.

2. Implementation times are too great – Traditional on-premise systems often require in excess of 12 months to implement. By the time the time the deployment is complete, the underlying financial models are obsolete; or worse, the projects never get completed due to constantly changing requirements.

3. Resources are too constrained – Finance and IT teams everywhere are overworked. They simply do not have time to commit significant amounts of effort to large scale implementation projects. Furthermore, they are weary of the learning curve for re-engineered business processes that often come with a new system.

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