U of T kicks off new comprehensive budgeting tool project

An intuitive interface, multi-year compensation planning, and detailed five-year expense forecasts are just some of the benefits of U of T’s new planning and budgeting application, a project that officially kicked off on March 4.

The University has partnered with Questica to deliver a new cloud-based budgeting software solution, set to go live in winter 2020. The project will replace the existing B6 application, a home-grown add-on to the SAP system that U of T’s business officers have used for over 25 years to track annual salary commitments.

“Selecting Questica was a very consultative process,” says Trevor Rodgers, assistant vice-president of the Planning and Budget Office. “We’ve chosen a tool that will meet the needs of a decentralized community of administrators with a diverse range of budgeting processes. By partnering with divisions in the upfront development, we expect to increase efficiency, reduce risk, and avoid duplication of resources.”

To bring the project to life, the Planning and Budget Office in partnership with Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI), worked with a team of 15 participants from across all three campuses.

Following an extensive public request for proposals, a short list of four vendors presented their systems to the team and selections were narrowed down to two. The two vendors each developed a proof of concept using a mock-up of U of T’s data, and the team tested the competing systems for 20 business days. Based on the test results, the team chose Questica Budget to move forward.

“The selection process for this RFP was extremely thorough and detailed. I am confident that the best tool for the University of Toronto has been awarded the contract,” says Darshan Harrinanan, project manager at EASI. “We’re excited and looking forward to this project.”

Beyond other benefits, the new tool will allow managers to create “what if” scenarios to make accurate projections and it will provide monthly data downloads to track budget variances. It also has a comprehensive multi-step workflow for budget reviews and approvals.

“We’re happy to be moving forward with this process. Timelines are tight but we have the advantage of the vendor now being familiar with our decentralized and complex business environment, as well as our technical environment here at U of T,” says Harrinanan.

Next steps for the project include an initial status meeting, data management, training, integration and launch. Training will include 38 sessions for various user groups, which will prepare staff for the change.

“This tool is more robust than the previous solution and will meet divisional and departmental needs for accurate multi-year resource planning,” says Rodgers. “It will also better support the University’s long range budgeting process.”