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Business Officer Magazine

Seven Pluses of Pre-planning

Thinking ahead about what factors might affect your financial performance can yield many direct benefits.

By Laurie Stickelmaier and Susan Vance

In the article “How to Prevent a Financial Fiasco,” in the January 2007 issue of Business Officer, we describe how Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, crafted a financial contingency plan. The plan provides a framework of alternatives for addressing any number of substantial budgetary pressures, foreseen or unpredictable.

We’ve learned from our experience that many direct benefits are in store for institutions that pursue such a financial contingency process. Among them are these seven:

  1. Provides guidance to the institution’s leadership for dealing with financial exigency.
  2. Supports thoughtful decision making consistent with the institution’s principles and mission statement.
  3. Provides a preapproved philosophical foundation and a how-to blueprint for action.
  4. Helps determine the level of contingency and appropriate level of response.
  5. Serves as an educational tool for the institution’s constituencies on matters related to institutional finances and operations.
  6. Fosters a culture of collaboration and inclusiveness among community constituencies.
  7. Helps to smooth the way during painful financial times and helps ensure buy-in by the full campus community, despite potentially painful financial decisions.

The many positive results for Saint Mary’s College over the past three years—during which the financial contingency plan has been in place—can make the case about the real value of concerted planning for your institution.

Laurie Stickelmaier is vice president for finance and administration, and Susan Vance, financial contingency plan committee chair, is a professor of law and accounting at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana.