Resource Planning

The calls (for accountability) are coming from inside the house. And outside, too. From legislators to students, parents to faculty, more and more people are putting higher education’s ledgers under the microscope. They demand proof that resources are used wisely. They want to know how these decisions get made.

What is needed is more than the usual round of budget cycles. It’s aligning resources—funds, time, space, technology, and more—to the university or college strategic plan. It’s allocating resources to advance the institution as it shapes and defines its future. What is needed is resource planning.

Why do it? Why integrated? Who does it?
When is it done? How is it done? Learn how.

What is resource planning?

Resource planning is the process for determining and allocating resources in a higher education institution.

Resources include:

  • Funds
  • People
  • Space/facilities
  • Technology
  • Equipment

Resource planning involves both short- and long-term plans. It includes annual budget processes, human resources, and capital planning functions. These processes culminate in the creation of allocations for the budgets of all units of an institution.

Why do resource planning?

Resource planning aligns available and future financial, human, and physical resources with the needs and goals of a college or university.

Successfully completing this process allows an institution to continue necessary current efforts and successfully implement new initiatives. Further, if done in a transparent way, stakeholders will understand why and how decisions are made.

Why is integrated planning important for resource planning?

A plan cannot be implemented without resources. When resource planning is aligned with institutional plans, like the strategic plan or academic plan, future-critical initiatives have what they need to succeed. Further, integrated planning ensures that resource planning is transparent and cross-boundary so institutional stakeholders understand why and how decisions are made.

Who does resource planning?

While senior leaders of an institution are ultimately responsible, involvement from throughout the college or university is important to achieving success.

Much of the detailed budget planning is completed by the finance office in conjunction with nearly every program and department across the institution.

Often, the provost’s office or another senior administrator takes the lead in developing new plans related to budget and resource allocation, including the prioritization of programs and initiatives.

When is resource planning done?

Resource planning is an ongoing process. There is variation across institutions, but monthly, quarterly, and annual checks of the status of funds can be good times to adjust projections and most accurately plan for institutional needs.

Resource planning is also triggered by events, such as:

How is resource planning done?

Every institution will develop its own process to best fit its needs. Needs may be informed by specific business cycles and by state appropriations processes for public colleges and universities.

Generally, institutions should prioritize initiatives that align with strategic priorities and create a balance of expenditures with ongoing commitments with which it feels comfortable. Often the finance office will take the lead in crafting proposals after receiving requests from departments and units, though the process may be more or less centralized at different institutions.

Author: Larry Goldstein, President, Campus Strategies, LLC, Resource and Budget Planning Academy Member
With thanks to: Ellen Milstone, Senior Strategic Planning and Budget Officer, ASU Enterprise Partners, Former SCUP Board Chair
With thanks to: Richard Straka, Vice President, Finance and Administration, Minnesota State University – Mankato, Resource and Budget Planning Academy Member

Learn how.

You’re invited to join the SCUP community toward learning and practicing integrated resource planning in higher education. Check out our related learning resources and upcoming events and courses below.

Interested in becoming a SCUP member? We have a place for you. Learn more and join us.

Join the conversation on the SCUP listserv.