Chief financial officers are fiscal fiduciaries for the school districts they serve. In the role of CFO, you are held accountable for district finances and performance in the eyes of stakeholders. In a 2010 study by EY (formerly Ernst & Young), 65 percent of CFOs surveyed agree that cost management is the number one priority.
The district community looks to you as an executive leader who is responsible for fiscal and operational success. In fact, the same EY study indicated that two-thirds of respondents agree that the CFO acts as the face of performance. As a CFO striving to keep your district on the road to success, it can be tricky to determine which path to achievement will yield the best results.
Parents, staff, teachers, students and community members all benefit from a CFO who responsibly manages school district finances. We’ve identified three avenues through which CFOs are increasing operational efficiencies and supporting the end goal of improved student achievement. Whether you’re traveling a single path or exploring all three roads at once, these best practices will help your district boost productivity and achieve success.
Avenue 1: Automation
A clear solution for boosting efficiencies in your district’s day-to-day operations is automation. By automating manual administrative and financial processes, you can dramatically increase district productivity. Free up time to take on other important initiatives by investing in a technology solution that streamlines financial and administrative procedures.
Exploring the avenue of automation through advanced technology will help eliminate the duplication of entries, prevent errors, and increase the accuracy of your data. You can also use workflows to streamline manual approval processes and eliminate delays caused by paper-based processes. For the most efficient control and collaboration, be sure to choose a solution that is accessible 24/7.
Avenue 2: Data Analysis
Data-driven decision-making is becoming a more common method for effectively managing resources and increasing operational productivity. With the tools available for today’s districts, accessible analytics should be consulted as CFOs and district leaders make budgetary choices.
Measuring and analyzing your district’s resources and expenditures – such as transportation, maintenance, energy costs, office supplies, payment processes, meal costs per student, and additional services – can help improve operations at the school and district level. Utilizing a data analytics solution that provides customizable benchmarks or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will make it clear where operations can be improved and productivity can be increased.
KPIs and other data indicators can help executive leaders and CFOs make more informed decisions and increase operational efficiencies. Choose a technology solution that includes data analysis at the enterprise level to avoid paying for a third-party application or outside vendors. By taking key measurements of operations, CFOs can make better use of the resources their district is given – an important ability, as doing more with less becomes increasingly critical for districts in today’s educational environment.
Avenue 3: Relationships
Building strong relationships with stakeholders and colleagues is an important route for all executive leaders to take. The EY survey indicated that more than 50 percent of CFOs see handling a complex stakeholder group to be their greatest challenge. As CFO, make it a priority to work on the development of balanced, professional relationships with colleagues – especially your district’s chief technology officer.
A strong working relationship with your CTO will help you stay up to date on technology initiatives the district may need to pursue. In the push for future-readiness, technology infrastructure should be a high-priority investment. CFOs and CTOs must work together to ensure the need for infrastructure is aligned with district goals.
Consider meeting with colleagues, as well as community stakeholders, to discuss district needs and how they can be met. Cultivate these relationships by scheduling regular meetings and initiating constructive conversation. The technology your district implements to boost operational efficiencies should be viewed as an investment in the future success of your students. Collaborate with your district and community to create an education alliance that will work toward achieving these shared goals.
As parents, staff, teachers, students and community members all look to their district’s CFO to help lead the way, these distinct avenues can provide areas of focus for district leadership. Optimal budget performance and increased productivity are goals that can be met with innovative technology and a thoughtful communication strategy. Operational efficiencies will invariably lead to improved outcomes, reduced costs, and ongoing success.
Would you like to learn more about how you can use advanced technology to streamline operations and reduce costs in your district? Get in touch with us today! We have some great ideas based on more than 30 years of experience helping K-12 leaders just like you.
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