Across segments, higher education institutions are confronting a host of external pressures, including changing demographics, heightening competition, and increasing affordability and value concerns. These market pressures are threatening institutional revenues while driving urgency to make new investments to grow and compete. As a result, institutions are performing more strategic financial planning than ever before, both at the unit level and centrally.
At the unit level, finance staff are more closely scrutinizing existing budget allocations to identify opportunities for reallocation to high-growth areas or other areas of strategic importance. Centrally, finance teams are more robustly modeling the impact of new investments and operating risks on overall financial health.
New financial planning work requires elevated staff skill sets
Of course, performing new financial planning activities requires new skill sets. The graphic below outlines some of the new skills today’s higher education finance staff must possess. On the one hand, staff require more sophisticated technical finance and data skills. Staff profiles are shifting from “accountants to analysts”—away from processing transactions and toward analyzing financial data to inform strategic decision-making. At the same time, staff need new types of professional competencies. Staff are spending more time working with unit leaders to help them make decisions. As a result, they increasingly need to master professional competencies such as communication and critical thinking.
5 resources to upskill your budget and planning staff
Download our Budget and Planning Talent Development Toolkit to access five tools to help you pursue a three-pronged approach to build more strategic financial planning teams. First, rewrite position descriptions to elevate staff profiles and codify required, more advanced skill sets. Second, update candidate interview processes to fill all vacancies with staff possessing the right mix of technical skills and professional competencies. Third, invest in training for current staff to build new skills and raise performance.