When you oversee the budget for a school division the size of a country in Europe, being able to collaborate remotely in real time isn’t just a convenience. It’s a critical tool for success.
That’s one of the reasons why MyBudgetFile is the “backbone” of the budget planning process for Prairie South School Division in Saskatchewan.
Bernie Girardin is the Superintendent of Business and Operations for Prairie South. At 32,747 square kilometres, it’s roughly the size of Belgium. Bernie’s job is to shepherd the division’s budget through from start to finish and engage staff in the process— whether they’re across the room or halfway across the province.
“One of the handy-dandy things with MyBudgetFile that I have really liked—and the school principals really like, as well—is that once they enter it in their budget, I have instant access to it,” Bernie says. “I can be on the phone with someone from Mankota, which is two-and-a-half hours away. We can look at their budget, make some changes over the phone, and see instant results.”
MyBudgetFile’s user-friendly software is deployed at all levels of the organization, from Superintendents of Education to IT managers to the principals of the division’s 41 schools. During initial high-level planning, Bernie and the Director, Superintendents and Managers run various scenarios through MyBudgetFile “to get a sense of what the bottom line is going to look like.”
Declining government funding is the division’s primary challenge, and labour costs are a major consideration when it comes to finalizing the budget. “We have all the staff members in there, so we can run the numbers staffing costs and staffing levels—adding one or two or 20, or reducing the level by one, two or three,” says Bernie. “It helps us out quite a bit.”
Bernie also appreciates how quickly users with non-financial backgrounds can be brought on board with MyBudgetFile. He recently held a training session for a new principal that wrapped up in less than 30 minutes, and that included an overview of the board’s budget process.
“We are trying to make this process as easy as possible for our principals, in terms of year-over-year budgeting and finance,” he says. “Their job is to run schools, not do accounting work.”