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Business Officer Magazine

Engaging Stakeholders in Budget Redesign

By Maryann Terrana

In an effort to grow revenue and increase transparency about financial management, the University of North Dakota (UND) built an incentive-based budget model, which balanced its need for central flexibility with the entrepreneurial benefits of local decision making.
"When it comes to budget models, there's no one-size-fits-all approach," said Thomas DiLorenzo, provost and vice president, academic affairs. DiLorenzo, the UND president, and the chief business officer embraced the move from an incremental budget model to an incentive-based model in 2013. The institution brought in Huron Consulting as a project partner to ensure that all the right questions and issues were considered.

A Team Effort

At the session "Engaging Stakeholders in Redesigning the Budget Model," DiLorenzo co-presented with CBO Alice Brekkewhere they focused on the key elements of their new budget model implementation (see figure, "Implementation Timeline"). Andrew Laws, managing director of Huron Consulting Group, rounded out the panel to offer budgeting model trends among various institutions with which Huron has worked.

Brekke and DiLorenzo emphasized that their success was dependent upon UND President Robert O. Kelley's support for redesigning the budget model from the very beginning, and him being a visible advocate throughout the implementation. Also, every dean was supportive, which was absolutely critical to the redesign.

They recommended the following tips to those attempting a similar change:

  • Be selective and intentional when appointing a steering committee, and include individuals who are certain to communicate and collect information informally as well as formally.
  • Don't underestimate the amount of ongoing communication, education, and training required to implement the change.
  • Employ a long-term (3–5 years) budgetary outlook.
  • Allow approximately 2.5 years for the process, beginning with due diligence and visioning, and culminating in a one-year parallel process.

MARYANN TERRANA is director, member engagement, at NACUBO.

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