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Auburn University Uses Synario Software (formerly known as Whitebirch)

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University Business

March 20, 2018

With colleges and universities constantly juggling multiple financial challenges, Auburn University has become the 100th user to turn to an innovative cloud-based platform for help — PFM’s Whitebirch Multi-Year Planning Software (Whitebirch), a preeminent solution specifically built for comprehensive, higher education financial modeling.

“A lot of our really big ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems have not been built to help us forecast into the future,” said Kelli D. Shomaker, CPA, and Auburn’s Vice President for Business & Finance/CFO. “Those systems are great for today but they do not help us looking down the road and evaluating our financial situation under different scenarios. Whitebirch allows us to perform this analysis.”

Whitebirch is designed to deliver reliable, real-time answers to critical questions, such as:

  • How might a new pricing and discount strategy impact net student revenue?
  • What is the best way to fund the capital plan?
  • What amount of deferred maintenance can be comfortably funded from operations?
  • Are we prepared to weather the next economic downturn? Do we have manageable risk exposure?
  • How does the staffing plan and anticipated compensation growth impact the operating margin over the next three to five years?
  • How might any or all of these issues affect our credit rating?

“We could not be prouder than to have an institution of Auburn’s stature as the 100th subscriber to our platform,” said PFM Managing Director Brett Matteo, who heads PFM’s Financial Forecasting practice. “Our higher education clients think that having a full-field view of their future financial position is mission-critical. Our ability to help CFOs and senior business leaders design and develop flexible forecasts is important in understanding and managing their institutions in an ever-changing environment.”

The Whitebirch platform provides financial officers at educational institutions with an easy-to-implement tool that can quickly conduct comprehensive multi-year analyses and sensitivity testing of major drivers, including:

  • Student revenues (enrollment, tuition, fees, and aid);
  • Auxiliary revenues;
  • Gift and grant revenue;
  • Appropriation revenue (where applicable);
  • Staffing and compensation expense;
  • Capital projects and operating initiatives;
  • Facilities and deferred maintenance;
  • Debt; and
  • Credit rating and other key metrics.

“Whitebirch allows us to plug in many ‘what if’ scenarios and run those numbers through an entire enterprise that’s quick and effective,” said Auburn’s Shomaker. “Otherwise, I would have a couple of accountants or budget analysts having to do it all on Big Chief tablets.”

Increasingly, CFOs recognize the need to plan beyond the current budget year and adapt quickly to changes in their environment. This is certainly the case at Auburn.

Said Shomaker, “It means we are finally able to do much more serious long-term analysis and make financial changes faster.”

About PFM

At PFM, over 650 employees – asset managers, financial advisors and consultants – partner with clients in every region of the country to transform their world. We combine superior financial advice, disciplined management and ingenuity to build, power, move and educate.

PFM is the marketing name for a group of affiliated companies providing a range of services. All services are provided through separate agreements with each company. This material is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice or a specific recommendation.

For more information regarding PFM’s services or entities, please visit For important disclosure information please, visit

About PFM Solutions

PFM Solutions LLC focuses exclusively on developing and delivering best‐of‐breed financial modeling technology and services to public and private markets. Our professionals have a 10‐year track record of helping clients with mission-critical decision‐making.

Full article: Auburn University uses PFM’s Whitebirch

*Whitebirch is now Synario™