With 18 academic and professional colleges, the University of Kentucky (UK) needed scalable budgeting software that could account for various funding sources across multiple business units. After working with Syntellis Performance Solutions in 2018 to revamp its tuition model, in 2020, UK saw Axiom as the natural choice for its new budgeting solution.
Prioritizing Familiarity and Integration Abilities
The university first worked with Syntellis in 2018 to rework its tuition model using AxiomTM Tuition Planning. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, the university’s finance team realized they needed to pivot that model, so they reached out to Syntellis again. Using Axiom’s “what-if” modeling capabilities, the team created an accurate on-campus tuition model, even with a complex rate structure.
When the university decided it was time to implement a new budget system, they knew they would benefit from their existing familiarity with the Axiom system. Implementing AxiomTM Budgeting and Forecasting also allowed the university to integrate data with its academic medical center, which already used the Axiom Healthcare Suite.
“We really wanted something that could integrate the two for reporting purposes,” says Brad West, Director of Financial Planning and Area Fiscal Officer at the University of Kentucky.
Centralizing the University Budget with a Scalable, Flexible Platform
With a complex tuition model and many disparate departments, UK needed to consolidate budget information from multiple units, all of which operate with different business rules, funding sources, and budget philosophies.
“We are a big, complex university with many decentralized parts that all have to come together,” explains West. “We have a police unit that gets some state money. We have an agriculture department that gets federal and state money. We have a health unit that uses our budget system but has a separate budget philosophy from the rest of campus.”
The university found that the Axiom platform easily scaled and adjusted to the varying needs of each unit, reducing human error, saving hundreds of hours, and ultimately empowering university leaders to rise to the challenge of centralizing the budget process.
Powering Secure and Centralized Reporting
Many universities rely on Excel spreadsheets as a core budgeting component, but the process is prone to error. “When we send out spreadsheets, we get them back in all sorts of different formats,” says West. “We spend time compiling them and ensuring there are no mistakes.”
With Axiom, the university can better manage financial information, limit departments’ input, and force consistent structure among business units, ultimately saving the institution hundreds of hours of labor and reducing the likelihood of errors. West estimates that the university has experienced a 10% to 15% efficiency gain with the Axiom platform.
Using Accurate Data to Plan for the Future
As higher education continues to feel the impact of economic fluctuations and a looming demographic cliff, universities need accurate data and projections to plan for the future.
Equipped with robust data from Axiom, West can confidently make recommendations to the university’s executive team regarding long-term financial decisions. Using information from the tuition model, the finance team puts together decision packages that delineate funding sources and expenses and make clear if and where there is excess or if cuts are required.
Benefitting From Syntellis’ Deep Industry Knowledge
During Axiom implementations, UK benefitted from Syntellis’ extensive higher education expertise. UK’s Syntellis implementation consultant previously worked in a budget office at a university and used her first-hand knowledge to streamline the process.
“She was pivotal to have, because she truly got it. We were on the same playing field,” says West. Her Axiom expertise combined with real-world university budget experience created a more efficient implementation environment with fewer meetings and process explanations.
Looking to the Future with Confidence
UK looks forward to a continued partnership with Syntellis and the ever-evolving Axiom platform. “They are always improving the product,” says West, calling out recent web reporting enhancements, which are particularly beneficial to those in a hybrid work environment. Whether at home or in the office, university leaders can access Axiom anytime, anywhere.
Even as the higher education sector faces economic changes, the Axiom platform helps universities budget and project tuition with confidence. “In the end, Axiom helps us project our tuition more accurately,” says West.
“Working with Syntellis has been an extremely collaborative and enjoyable endeavor.”