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Exploring the Impact of New Initiatives

How St. Ambrose University Leveraged Synario to Acquire New Programs

5 min Read

Like many higher education institutions, St. Ambrose University noticed declining enrollment trends in their traditional undergraduate and graduate programs. To make attendance more accessible, they offered tuition discounts – particularly for undergraduate students. However, the financial impact of raising tuition while simultaneously increasing discounts proved to threaten St. Ambrose’s long-term financial stability. To regain its fiscal footing, the university knew it had to find new sources of income to replace the existing ones under pressure. Two new program initiatives were proposed: an online nursing program and a workforce development certificate program to create new revenue streams. The St. Ambrose finance team implemented Synario to model the financial impacts of adding these new program initiatives and to find out whether they had the potential to improve their financial trajectory.

St. Ambrose’s financial model included various scenarios of the proposed initiatives. For example, they looked at the overall impact of adding the nursing program but not the workforce development program and, alternatively, the potential outcome of adding both or just keeping the status quo with no new initiatives at all. While creating this model, they had to consider certain assumptions, such as, would these programs operate how they wanted them to? Implementing the nursing program was a plug-and-play operation and didn’t require too many upfront costs. On the other hand, the workforce development program required more financial investment to launch. These upfront costs had to be factored in, paying close attention to the revenue stream and costs of goods sold. Additionally, the St. Ambrose finance team was able to stress test each option by investigating various enrollment levels to consider their best- and worst-case scenarios and be prepared for a certain level of uncertainty.

The finance team presented their findings to their Board of Trustees and stakeholders, presenting data-informed options for the future and providing the projected implications to guide decision-making. A week later, they gave a similar presentation to all faculty and staff at their presidential assembly. The finance team used Synario to present St. Ambrose’s current financial trajectory compared to where the new proposed initiatives could take them and to test out different variables in real time. This information was initially met with skepticism and a series of questions the finance team could answer quickly and present visually using Synario’s toggle feature. They could easily communicate the economic importance of seeking out new program initiatives and getting their organization on board.

The acquisition of both the new nursing program and workforce development program were ultimately approved by the Board and signed into agreement, but this was just the beginning. These projects are ongoing, and the St. Ambrose finance team continues to use Synario to easily update their financial model moving into the future, considering new ideas for growth and innovation. Synario has enabled St. Ambrose to develop a routine and sustainable modeling process to ensure they continuously make the most informed decisions. The finance team was able to adopt the practice of revising their long-term plan on a routine basis to quickly determine the impact of both short-term and long-term decisions moving into the future. 

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When it comes to managing the financial future of your business, you do not want to leave things up to chance or outdated methods of data management and projection. You need solutions your business can rely on, and financial planning and projection features that can guide you towards greater success in the long-term, rather than leave you struggling to plan more than a year or two in advance.

We started Synario because we were tired of struggling with spreadsheets and their shortcomings. We needed a solution that was dynamic, adaptable, and promoted cross-team collaboration. To answer this need, we created Synario: the agile modeling platform that organizations from all corners rely on to forecast and visualize their financial futures.

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