The Official Blog of Forecast5 Analytics

Mike English
Mike English

Analytics, Data Management, ROI, Forecasting

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Aligning Spending to the Strategic Plan

Posted on Jan 4, 2017 2:30:24 PM

One of our K-12 data themes for this year is “academic return on investment.”  We are trying to identify new methods and visuals to link functional investments (expenditures) to academic outcomes.  In this effort, we have recently rolled out some new analytics that examine expenditures on a “then-versus-now” basis. The reactions to the new analytics have been as interesting as the results.

We started with the idea that an investment should produce some type of measurable return within a three to five-year period…and we combined that idea with the old question “are you putting your money where your mouth is?”  In simple terms, the new analytics compare a school districts level of spending in each functional or programmatic area now versus what they were spending three and five years ago.

There are several things we are looking for in this analysis:

  • Which functional areas have had the highest level of increased spending in both percent and dollar terms?
  • Which functional areas have seen decreased spending?
  • Are there any surprises at the top or bottom of the list?
  • Do the areas of increased investment over the three or five-year period synchronize with the district’s strategic plan over the same time?

How to effectively communicate your budget to stakholders

The analytic that we designed has a number of ways in which you can interact with it…and the more you play…the more you see.  As we have been helping clients compare their expenditures then-and-now, we have received a number of different reactions…many of which have been repeated by other clients:

  • “Hmm – I am surprised to see that is our largest growing expenditure, we need to investigate.”
  • “That makes total sense and this picture is going to help us have a discussion with the Board.”
  • “That’s a great picture…and, it matches up with our strategic plan from three years ago.”

How can this type of look-back analysis help a school district…and how does it relate to Academic ROI?  The process of analyzing historical data can actually be quite valuable before looking forward and developing future investment plans.  Consider the following questions that might be derived from the analytic:

  • Did our spending match up with our strategic plan (money/mouth)?
  • Did we see a positive outcome from a strategic increase in a particular expenditure?
  • Is there an area in which we have decreased our spending…and, we have now seen a negative outcome?

These are just some of the types of questions that might come from this retrospective analysis.  It is not always easy to find the time to go through this type of exercise, but for Forecast5 clients, the analytic model is already built…just point-and-click for these insights and answers.

Hear how Superintendent Jon Bartelt from Bloomingdale School District 13 utilizes Forecast5 tools to tell his district's story.



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