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Education Corporation of America Manages Fast Growth with Quantrix Distributed Budgeting and Planning

"We have not found any significant issues with any of the models, which is a paradigm-shift from our previous spreadsheet-based process. I’m really ecstatic with how well it went."

Chris Ransom
Director of Planning

The Challenge at ECA

Education Corporation of America (ECA) is a leader in private education, a fast growing segment of higher education.  Like many institutions, their previous spreadsheet-based budgeting and planning process was inefficient and introduced errors into the decision-making process.  In order to better manage growth, ECA set out to find an alternative to spreadsheets that would improve budgeting and planning and enable more accurate and timely decisions.  The solution they sought would seamlessly scale as new campuses and programs were brought online, and enable planning over an increased timeframe.  Chris Ransom, Director of Planning at ECA, stated “Before Quantrix, we used spreadsheets which eliminated the ability to model and interact with live data.  With our growth and need for more accurate decision-making, this was becoming an unacceptable limitation.  We had developed a large set of linked spreadsheets that became increasingly difficult to manage.  Anytime we needed to change a formula or update with new data, we  were in position to inadvertently introduce errors.  It would take our team a lot of time and effort to fix the spreadsheets, distracting us from our primary responsibilities for actual budgeting and planning.”  They also required a tool that offered the flexibility to address their full suite of complex modeling tasks such as enrollment, tuition revenue, human resources planning, and marketing expenditure, as these factors directly influenced budgeting and planning.  It was crucial that individual campuses and departments could manage their own models while the head office could consolidate the data in master models.  The scope of issues and needs caught the attention of the executive team, with the CEO eventually requesting that the finance department make a switch from spreadsheets.

The Solution

Chris and the team began researching software options.  They made a short list of vendors and identified the follow key requirements:

1.    Bi-directional integration capabilities for updating models with live data
2.    Scalability of software to accommodate ECA’s growing business and user base
3.    Responsiveness and quality of vendor professional services and customer support
4.    Flexibility of software to be applied to the full scope of planning activities and user groups

Quantrix provided a demonstration to the ECA team, walking through the unique features and benefits of the Quantrix distributed budgeting and planning solution for higher education.  The solution integrates Quantrix Modeler with a centralized database by employing DataLink and DataPush, add-on products for inbound and outbound integration.  The solution enables data to be shared across the institution and models to be updated and consolidated in real-time. 

The Result

ECA has quickly achieved its key goals through the implementation of Quantrix.  They are now able to budget and plan with live, timely data which has enhanced the accuracy of forward-focused business decisions.  The implementation of Quantrix provides greater confidence in a budgeting and planning process that now enables them to look at a three year run rate.  The Quantrix implementation itself was smooth and received quick “buy in” from end users.  Chris reports, “Quantrix professional services were great at listening and then transferring our needs and requirements into models.  They were able to leverage their extensive domain knowledge in other industries and customer engagements and apply “best practices and lessons learned” to our model design.  There is a lot of value in the “out of the box” thinking that Quantrix brings to the table.  Importantly, they met and exceeded all timelines.  For us, it was a really big win that the models were put together in a short amount of time.  We were able to design and implement the models, train the end users, and “go live” within 3 months.  We have not found any significant issues with any of the models, which is a paradigm-shift from our previous spreadsheet-based process. I’m really ecstatic with how well it went."

ECA has begun rolling out Quantrix to departments outside of finance.  For example, the marketing team is able to use Quantrix to mine their historic student data for demographic research.  They can apply new insights into student behaviors and demographics to fine tune and focus their marketing campaigns.  As student enrollment targets are established for future years, they will have the ability to run “what if” scenarios to determine the future spend for marketing campaigns to achieve enrollment goals.  With these types of successes, ECA envisions a bright and growing future for Quantrix in their institution. 

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