No-Brainer or Brain-Twister? Linking Planning and Budgeting

By Fairbairn, Brett | Planning for Higher Education, April-June 2017 | Go to article overview

No-Brainer or Brain-Twister? Linking Planning and Budgeting


Fairbairn, Brett, Planning for Higher Education


While there is no one right way to link planning and budgeting, there is good practice: what works to influence behavior in the direction of institutional goals, supported by strong leadership.

"The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of
our values and aspirations."--Jacob J. Lew (2011, [paragraph] 1),
director of the White House Office of Management and Budget

What is true of government budgets is equally true for colleges and universities: if you want to know what an institution values, look where it puts its resources.

Our institutions may produce inspiring vision statements, strategic plans, academic plans, enrollment plans, master plans, and plans to plan... but if such texts do not line up with how resources are actually allocated, they are mere exhortations or documents on a shelf. One point of view would be that a plan is toothless unless it changes the focus of those in the institution regarding the use and prioritization of resources. I would go further: if a plan and the budget are not integrated, then the budget, by default, is the institution's real plan.

This article looks at planning and budgeting in higher education: it examines how the two are linked conceptually and reviews a range of practices used by different institutions. What follows is based on published studies and cases, my six years of experience as provost at a Canadian university, and interactive workshops conducted at the Society for College and University Planning's (SCUP) annual conference in connection with which my colleagues and I surveyed the workshop participants. For the most part this article considers strategic planning and operational budgeting at the institutional level, but some of the insights may well apply to other contexts.

I hope to persuade you that planning and budgeting ought to be linked--this may seem like a "no-brainer" to some.

At the same time, I don't want to shy away from how hard it is to do. In many institutions, planning and budgeting are large, separate, cumbersome processes with different key stakeholders, often supported by different administrative offices, not necessarily with the same cycles and timelines. To link the two sounds easier than it is. Many institutions take decades to develop effective ways of doing so, and these cannot usually be copied wholesale from one college to another. In every case they depend critically on leadership. How to link planning and budgeting--that's the "braintwister."

PART ONE: THEORY IS CLEAR

It helps to think briefly about what we mean by planning and budgeting. A plan is a statement of intention about future actions. It is not simply a forecast. A plan's purpose is to guide action--to cause, following its release, particular things to be done and goals to be achieved in a certain timeframe. And because planning is about causing action, behavioral change, and results, it is "not just about the outcome of producing various planning documents; it is about the process of engaging stakeholders and building buy-in for the institution's vision and academic priorities" (Stack and Leitch 2011, p. 21).

Plans have proliferated in higher education and now cover various levels, functions, portfolios, units, risks, and timescales. Many institutions have a matrix of overlapping plans. The concept of integrated planning, advocated distinctively by SCUP, is an effort to bring order to the "lack of coherence" that has characterized the efforts of physical campus planners, academic planners, and financial planners formerly working in isolation (Brodnick and Norris 2016, p. 28). SCUP says, "integrated planning is a sustainable approach to planning that builds relationships, aligns the organization, and emphasizes preparedness for change" (Society for College and University Planning, n.d., [paragraph] 1).

The hardest part of planning is setting priorities and sticking to them: "Integrated planning is the process whereby all planning and budgeting activities throughout every level of the organization are effectively linked, coordinated, and driven by the institution's vision, mission, and academic priorities" (Stack and Leitch 2011, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

No-Brainer or Brain-Twister? Linking Planning and Budgeting
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.