Rocking the Budget in Education with CALUMO and Analysis Services at UNSW

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A couple of weeks ago, Alister Cairns from University of New South Wales came to Club CALUMO, CALUMO's user group and presented what he and his team had rolled out to his constituents for reporting, budgeting and forecasting with Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) at UNSW.  The primary tool is Excel with CALUMO's integration for write back to SSAS.

UNSW have been using CALUMO for over 3 years.  They had another application for write back (budgeting and forecasting) on SSAS that CALUMO replaced. That application had pretty rigid requirements regarding dimension structures etc., CALUMO is very flexible an very fast to develop Business Intelligence (reporting), budgeting and forecasting on Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) and boy, UNSW needed that!

The business models UNSW use CALUMO and SSAS for reporting, budgeting and planning currently are:

  • Course Profitability – Reporting and planning asking the question: are courses profitable or not and what are the costs involved?
  • Raisers Edge - Alumni reporting and analysis, donation analysis and reporting (also reporting services on transactional level reporting (overdue on pledge donations etc.)
  • Finance – Forecast, budget, actual – reporting, analysis, input
  • Credit Card – Analysis of all credit card spend. Top ten credit spend by account type etc. Audit purposes
  • HR – Actual and budget – contains permanent and casual employees – used mainly for actual to budget variance analysis by employee and for FTE
  • Leave – reporting and analysis – contains recreation leave, Long Services Leave (LSL) balances and all leave taken (except where they don't put their forms in!). Handy for identifying feral top 10 rec leave balances etc. Cube also forecasts out end of year leave balances.
  • Accounts Receivable – Used for reporting and analysis particularly top three debtors for faculties and divisions on a quarterly basis.

CALUMO helped USNW by removing approximately 290 spread sheets.  Administration of the CALUMO based SSAS budgeting and forecasting system is very easy. Data entered into CALUMO by users is reportable immediately.

USNW still use Microsoft Excel spread sheets to enter budget data even though they have the choice to use web pages.  Alister and his team know they can hit the Publish button in Excel to create CALUMO web pages with live links to SSAS for reporting and budgeting but their users are Excel junkies.  Their users LOVE Excel because most of them are finance people so Alister and his team embrace Excel and use it to their advantage.

Budgeters get a very nice looking spread sheet with live links to SSAS via CALUMO so they can see the latest data.  They can then enter data on the sheet and instantly update SSAS via CALUMO.  People can only enter data into areas they have access to because security is setup in SSAS.  CALUMO doesn't add an extra un-need layer of security.

There is some very neat functionality Steven Gibbs from UNSW added to CALUMO and Excel to make data entry just plain AWESOME!  It even includes Kung Fu Panda.

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Check it out in the CALUMO forums here.

Alister says CALUMO has given him and his team the ability to deliver actionable information instantly and saved the university money by reducing the time it takes to build a new budget model, modify a planning model and saving contributors many hours with quick data entry in the tools they are comfortable with.

If you want more information, leave a comment or email me: wleitch@calumo.com.

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