9 things you’ll learn at the 2018-2019 Business Affairs Forum National Meeting

The Business Affairs Forum launched our 2018-2019 National Meeting series this September. This year’s roundtable presentations and discussions focus on two topics critical to institutional planning, strategy, and financial sustainability. We’ll explore how finance leaders should approach academic program review and viability decisions, and we’ll provide a landscape of how the university finance function will need to evolve across the next decade.

Keep reading to learn the highlights from these two research presentations.

Four imperatives for rightsizing the academic program portfolio

Following last year’s research on new program launches, this presentation explores how the business office can support program revitalization and discontinuance conversations. We’ll discuss the pitfalls of traditional program reviews and program prioritization, best practices for leveraging annual program reviews to highlight areas for investment or improvement, and strategies to unwind fixed program costs—plus common change management mistakes to avoid.

Specifically, we’ll consider four executive-level imperatives:

  1. Assemble the right data for regular program health and performance conversations
  2. Provide watch-list programs with structure guidance and a set period of time to improve
  3. Increase resource flexibility in parallel to program redesign efforts
  4. Ensure program discontinuance minimizes stakeholder disruption and maximizes cost savings

Past session attendees are already planning to apply these imperatives to their program review processes:

“This presentation was perfect for where we’re at. I liked the alternative model presented and will use this to further conversation on program mix at my university.”
- Chief Business Officer, Small Public University

Five characteristics of effective finance functions across the next decade

We’ll also discuss how Finance will need to evolve to position their institutions to respond to industry pressures across the next decade. Specifically, we’ll explore the following five hallmarks of effective finance functions:

  1. Central data infrastructure supports strategic decision making
  2. New technology and organizational models maximize operating efficiency
  3. Long-range financial plans consider future revenue threats
  4. Professional staff support ongoing academic resource planning
  5. Central finance provides just-in-time consultation on unit planning and strategy

Within these five hallmarks, we’ll share 12 trends related to the people, skills, organizational models, tasks, and technology Finance teams will need to transform from transactional into strategic functions. Topics include how to develop effective data governance strategies and business intelligence teams, how to leverage technology to create staff capacity for more strategic planning and analysis, and how to bolster financial support for academic resource planning.

Past session attendees are already thinking about how to make progress on these trends:

“High level and comprehensive. I have lots to digest. I got some good ideas for our strategies.”
- VP for Finance and Admin, Mid-Size Public University

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