The days when it was enough for school business officials to simply “crunch numbers” are long gone.
In the modern era of school business management, your school looks to you for leadership. They expect you to guide them into the future, to navigate the complex financial waters ahead.
Here are the three most important steps that today’s school business officials need to take in order to successfully steer their schools toward success.
The first step to becoming a more-effective School CFO is to take the time to look back over the previous years’ spending and evaluate it against a standardized rubric. You can create your own rubric based on your school’s needs, but it’s important to use the same rubric each year; otherwise, you won’t get an accurate comparison and won’t be able to gauge your school’s progress.
Also, since this is separate from your official reporting, don’t be afraid in your rubric to pose questions that prompt descriptive answers. This will help you to consider and flesh out some key conclusions beyond the math.
Some good questions to ask in your rubric include:
- Have your school’s objectives shifted over the years and, if so, to what degree and in what direction?
- How well did each previous year’s spending align with the stated goals for that year? (You may be surprised at the disparity you sometimes find in retrospect.)
- What can be gleaned or inferred from this alignment (or misalignment)?
- Do you notice any trends in the way your school’s goals shift from year to year relative each year’s allocations?
Once you have an idea of how your school’s big-picture goals and results are trending, consider what can be changed on a macro level to improve the rate at which your school accomplishes its goals.
It helps to answer questions such as:
- What are the school’s goals for next year?
- Are we falling into an unsuccessful pattern?
- What changes can be made to correct this pattern?
From there, use the insights you’ve gleaned from researching the correlation between allocation and goal success/failure for years past. Work backward from the ideal spending split in your budget to the individual purchases you will need to make going forward.
Now that you have a plan, all that’s left is to execute it. But don’t assume that everyone is on the same page as you just yet.
Remember, your team and fellow administrators don’t know what you know unless you explain it to them and, most importantly, convince them.
To successfully persuade those around you requires good CFO communication. You have the numbers necessary to back up your conclusions, but don’t forget to include the boiled-down, descriptive logic you’ve worked out along the way when meeting with the other decision-makers. Although Math may be your natural language, don’t get bogged down in the details before you get others on board with the big ideas.
Wish you had software that made drawing these conclusions easier and more obvious?