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Six Tips to Keep Your Financial Missions Sustainable in 2024

5 min Read

Keeping Your Financial Mission Sustainable,
Easier Said Than Done.

Financial missions are the road map by which we conduct our day-to-day operations. They inform our FP&A as well as our intra-organizational philosophies. So, how can we keep them sustainable with so many external factors affecting business and finance daily? Much of this you can plan for and can be tackled in financial software like Synario. The rest comes from the careful cultivation of communication and relationships between departments, teams, and colleagues. 

1.  Think Beyond The Budget

A new year brings a new budget and with it, freedom and constraints. With that freedom comes opportunity, both for massive success and unexpected misfortune. Keep in mind your budget allocations today can impact your long-term future, positively and negatively. Take this mindset to your new budget and analyze how those decisions will impact your future, not just through next year, but the next three, four, or even 10 years going forward. Incorporating proper FP&A software point solutions will help your future-proof your business.

2  Prioritize Projects Appropriately

To keep your financial mission sustainable in 2024, prioritize your projects appropriately – what needs to be done now, and what can wait? What’s the best way to go about these projects? Whether it’s internal cash reserves or the possibility of an external source providing the means, make sure you’re not overextending on either avenue. Keep in mind there’s a difference between emergency triage and preventative care. An important factor of project prioritization is flexibility through an iterative process. By regularly reassessing and adapting your assumptions as you learn more, you increase the likelihood of long-term success and sustainability. Doing so will allow your organization to adapt to situations like market changes and fluctuations in industry benchmarks. Having the flexibility to adjust your strategies is key. The ability to quickly work in changes with new parameters and expected outcomes will only benefit your organization.

The importance of project prioritization goes beyond “Is it feasible?”. You don’t want to solve one problem and create another that you will be paying for the next five or more years. A great analogy from the personal finance world is, “Just because you can buy it doesn’t mean you can afford it”. To make sure that your organization is taking the best approach consider different permutations of project funding. Cash-funded versus debt-funded initiatives each have different impacts on your organization’s long-term finances. Finding the right mix could be just the thing you need to make a project feasible, and sustainable.

3.  Make Sure You’ve Got Credibility & Buy-in

When it comes to keeping on track for your mission you need a good foundation of trust, this benefits your financial mission by giving you an easier path to buy-in, and a pre-established understanding that you’re working in both the short and long-term best interests of your organization.

We need to delineate between internal team credibility and external credibility (such as the board and other stakeholders). When it comes to team credibility, making sure you can answer what-if questions about your model and pivot, when need be, helps to show that you can deal with the unexpected and the adverse . Being proactive in your approach creates trust and confidence in the decision-making process.

External credibility is a bit harder – but it’s certainly possible, breaking down your financial data so that non-finance disciplines can understand and parse what you’re trying to show via the numbers is a huge step . Take this example from Wofford College here, where the visuals that Synario provided helped to turn a cabinet meeting on a tuition model into an exploratory session. Non-finance stakeholders were able to participate and see the real-time impact of different decisions on variables and initiatives.

Show that you’ve planned for multiple situations, from ideal to worst-case scenario analysis. By exhibiting this forethought constituents across teams or even outside your organization will believe that through your will, there’s a way.

4.  Give Your Organization The Ability To Be Flexible

Give your organization the ability to be flexible. A huge part of this relies on how competent your forecast is. When you’re aware of your long-term financial outlook you’ll have a better understanding of whether you have the wiggle room you think you have. The key to a flexible approach is understanding what is and is not in your organization’s control. Take a proactive approach to mitigate potential risks of outside variables. 44% of respondents to a 2023 higher education finance survey claimed that they either didn’t have a business continuity plan in place or created one in response to the pandemic*. Think about what your organization needs to be flexible. Whether it’s setting targets for cash reserves or doing your best to future-proof your mission with a forward-looking financial model, when the unexpected strikes you will be grateful you did.

5. Avoid Risk

Avoid risk by making sure your variables and assumptions are realistic. No one likes having the rug pulled out from under them, and when you’re not accounting for new or unexpected financial impacts like market changes. It’s trite – but you can keep your financial mission sustainable by expecting the unexpected, even if it means being more conservative in your estimates and bolstering your reserves.

As is the case with good strategy, you must find a balance. You can account for risk but make sure it’s not negatively impacting how the team considers new initiatives – no one likes bad news, but it’s better to expect it than be surprised by it.

6.  Collaborate On The Mission
(Beyond Your Immediate Team)

An uplifting concept for sure, but easier said than done. When thinking about the year ahead it’s important to have candid cross-departmental relationships, even outside of the financial sphere. Understand the needs and wants of your organization, as well as each respective department’s objective. You can improve your collaborative efforts with this resource: Collaborating with Colleagues.

How does this fit into your financial mission? Layering micro scenarios into your overall macro analysis will help you figure out the feasibility of these goals – which may have to be a compromise at the end of the day. Your relationships with each department will benefit, your colleagues will feel heard, and your organization be better for it. Circuitously, this also helps to foster buy-in. When you can reassure those who will be directly affected by the decisions you make, that trust that these decisions are being made and presented in good faith for everyone’s benefit will persist. Keep in mind everyone is trying to improve their sector of the organization at the same time, and hopefully, the organization will benefit.

Final Thoughts

As we chart our financial course into 2024, consider these six imperatives for a sustainable financial mission. Go beyond budgeting; leverage FP&A software to future-proof decisions. Prioritize projects wisely, balancing internal reserves and external sources, ensuring feasibility and long-term sustainability. Establish credibility through transparent communication, both internally and externally, demonstrating a proactive approach and foresight in decision-making.

To foster flexibility, it is important to have competent forecasting and proactive risk mitigation strategies in place. It is crucial to capitalize on realistic assumptions to avoid unexpected financial impacts and find a balance between risk mitigation and encouraging innovative initiatives. Additionally, it is important to embrace collaboration beyond your immediate team. This includes understanding the broader organizational objectives and layering micro-scenarios into macro analyses for comprehensive decision-making. As we look to thrive this year, integrating these strategies into your financial mission ensures resilience, trust, and collaborative success. It's time to act—future-proof your organization and set the stage for sustained financial health.

*Source: Inside Higher Ed, 2023 Survey of College and University Business Officers

See what Synario can do for you

We started Synario for the same reason many of our clients started using it: 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 software organizations rely on to forecast and visualize their financial futures.

Are you ready to see for yourself what Synario can do for you?