Q: What do you get when the pioneers of EdFinTech team up with the leading online store for K-12 purchasing?
A: Strategic budgeting, streamlined spending, and smarter financial management.
This year presents some particularly acute challenges. Plans are shifting rapidly and districts are frequently adapting budgets — sometimes on a daily basis. The need for finance data to be accessible and user-friendly for the people that use this data on a day-to-day basis is greater than ever. What’s more, administrators and teaching staff need to rely on a process that can provide resources as quickly as possible. With the collaboration of Allovue and Amazon Business, people can effortlessly create and implement strategic spending plans for their districts.
1) From the Classroom to Central Office: Purchasing Challenges All Around
Districts across the nation share a common set of challenges when it comes to budgeting and spending because the district finance mechanism is not living up to its potential. The challenges can be summarized as:
- Spending and strategic priorities are difficult to align.
- Manual budgeting causes mistakes and overspending.
- Funding models fail to equitably allocate resources.
- School leaders don't have enough autonomy over purchasing.
- Purchasing data are hard to access and use for future planning.
- Unspent funds are difficult to identify.
- Adapting quickly to changing needs is virtually impossible.
Can these processes be more efficient? More equitable? (Spoiler alert: yes - there is a better way.)
2) Making Purchasing Better with Allovue + Amazon Business
The people who are closest to students are also the best equipped to evaluate what resources those students need. Classroom educators and principals should be empowered to strategically and equitably allocate resources. But district budgets are limited, and budget managers are challenged to streeeeetch every dollar; every decision made in Central Office can have a dramatic impact on site-level resources. This means districts need:
- Insight into exactly where every dollar is going
- Visibility into opportunities to reallocate unspent dollars mid-year
- The ability to increase autonomy and effectiveness of spending
- To get the best bang for their buck on every dollar — especially in supplies and materials spending where savings can really add up over the course of the year.
The partnership between Allovue and Amazon Business builds a bridge to connect planning school budgets with actual spending against those plans. It’s all about ensuring your district is budgeting with fidelity at the start of the year and spending with fidelity against those plans throughout the year.
Allovue (with modules to Allocate, Budget, Manage, and Evaluate resources) and the Amazon Business online store make dollars work for students and communities.
3) Introducing the Streamlined Budgeting-Purchasing Integration
School finance is complicated— navigating a chart of accounts, restricted funds, or a simple purchase order can be challenging for non-finance personnel. Many school-level budget managers come into their positions because they are outstanding educators, and must learn to speak school finance on the job. Our tools are robust enough to satisfy Central Office, but simple enough to navigate without being a CPA.
To better connect planning with purchase, we've integrated Allovue's collaborative budgeting tools with Amazon Business. Now, the budgets and POs you create in Allovue Budget can help direct spending on Amazon Business — where teachers and staff always have access to millions of products for convenient purchasing and expedited shipping. Transaction data flows into Allovue Manage to help track district-wide purchasing and actual implementation of the strategic spending plan.
1. Build strategic spending plans aligned to goals and create POs in Allovue Budget.
2. Reference POs to spend with fidelity on Amazon Business.
3. Monitor purchasing and transaction-level data in real-time in Allovue Manage.
Flexibility to Support Different Budgeting Tactics
There are many different options for how districts can actually implement these tools depending on the specific circumstances at their schools. However you choose to budget, Allovue and Amazon Business will work together to improve the efficiency of your planning and purchasing operation. Budgeting tactics typically fall into three broad categories:
Budgets are built with moderate detail using common metrics as drivers of cost: per pupil, per FTE, per SQFT, etc.
Example: Teacher receives $500 for autonomous purchasing
Budgets are built categorically with minimal detail.
Example: An “Instructional Supplies” fund receives a $10,000 allocation from which principals can exercise autonomy to direct resources and involve teachers, as needed.
Budgets are built with explicit line-item detail to support highly regulated grants, new programs/strategies, new budget managers, complex programs or events, or proposals for new spending.
Example: Planned spending related to conference travel specifies line-item detail around registration costs, flights, lodging, and per diem expenses.
4) See it in Action: Streamlined Purchasing Meets Strategic Planning
The videos below are a great way to see Allovue and Amazon Business in action. You'll see how Allovue and Amazon Business can help districts:
- Provide a seamless process to make purchases for school-sites
- Save time during purchasing by creating a strategic spending plan
- Foster principal and teacher collaboration on the resources needed to support student learning
- Save money where items are available on Amazon Business at a lower cost
The previews below are from a webinar with Jess Gartner (CEO/Found, Allovue), Laura Nord (VP Sales, Allovue), and Michael Levin (former Global Solutions Leader - Education, Amazon Business). You can watch the replay here.
1. Planning in Allovue Budget
Central Office can collaborate with building-level leadership to create strategic budgets and associated POs aligned to district goals. Build budgets based on the resources you need with less focus on account codes. Add non-personnel expenses, select a vendor, provide a justification, and list specific items, if desired.
2. Purchasing on Amazon Business
Purchasers can exercise autonomy with guardrails and find exactly what they need in the vast Amazon Business online store. POs created in Allovue Budget and budget data are automatically added to Amazon Business. Get essential education, PPE, learn-from-home technology, and wellness products quickly to your staff and students.
3. Monitoring in Allovue Manage
Purchasing data from Amazon Business flows to Allovue in real-time so administrators can evaluate spending against POs. This dynamic view of budgeted versus actual expenses helps administrators track implementation of the strategic spending plan.