Skip to content

From the ED 7.18.13

Dear Colleagues,

It is that time of year again when MISBO will be encouraging each and every member school to participate in the annual benchmarking survey. For the second year we are partnering with SAIS and Interactive Data Partners (IDP) to bring this benefit to our schools. Last year nearly 250 schools (out of about 500 MISBO and SAIS members) participated in the benchmarking survey. The survey will open for data entry on August 18, 2013. We have made some minor modifications from last year. If you entered data last year you are now able to more fully realize the value by seeing trends. Also, your prior year data is accessible, making data entry simpler. Prior to August 18th you will receive an email message from IDP with your log-in information and more details.

IDP provides services way beyond what is offered with our survey. One of our member schools, Pinecrest Academy in Georgia, took advantage of some of these services. The following case study describes what was accomplished using the data entered into the MISBO/SAIS survey. Please contact Brian Bedrick at IDP ( for more information.

Practical Applications of the MISBO/SAIS Survey Data

Last year MISBO and SAIS partnered to provide their members a powerful data reporting tool based on the results of a survey conducted at the beginning of the school year. Many schools have mentioned that they love having this data available, but they are not exactly sure what to do with it.  Below is a case study of Pinecrest Academy who recently worked with Interactive Data Partners to create a customized series of reports that enabled them to make a series of key decisions.

Tom Hoover, the Director Operations at Pinecrest Academy, used the data to work with his management team, his Board Finance committee and the entire Board to guide some important discussions. Tom utilized the intuitive reporting tools on the online portal to present the data and discovered 3 significant benefits: getting people’s attention, aligning the data to strategic goals, and using the data to support decisions.

Get Their Attention

Survey ChartAlthough we all like to make data-informed decisions, not everybody is a data junkie. Many people are overwhelmed or quickly lose interest when they are presented with a flood of numbers. But the online dashboard engages everybody in the room because it is visually compelling and turns large amounts of raw data into intuitive images that everybody immediately understands. With the help of the visual dashboard, the discussions became much more focused and productive.

Guide Strategy and Priorities

One of Pinecrest’s budgeting objectives was to prioritize resource allocations so that classroom direct costs were consistently the top priority.  By creating a customized view of the MISBO/SAIS data, Pinecrest Academy was able to show the Board the progress they had made in this area.

Pinecrest Academy selected several key financial ratios and compared their results to a handpicked group of their peers. Using this dashboard, they were able to show that over the last few years, the proportion of overall investment dedicated to classroom activities had in fact increased and that they were now around the 80th percentile within their custom peer group.

In addition to monitoring the progress of existing strategic goals, Pinecrest Academy was able to use the dashboard to gain consensus on another strategic priority. When reviewing the key ratios, it became clear that the school needed to develop strategies to grow non-tuition revenue sources to supplement the traditional tuition model.  The other schools in their peer group had demonstrated some success in this area and the dashboard screens validated and showed the impact of those initiatives.

Make Decisions More Quickly and With More Confidence

In the example above, the decision makers at Pinecrest had access to reliable data to validate assumptions both within the school’s operations and in terms of where the market is, in order to make several key budget decisions.  Without this data, difficult decisions about resource allocations typically involve speculation and conjecture, which naturally result in tension between departments.  Displaying all the relevant data in a clear and transparent dashboard provided evidence to correct misperceptions and help build a culture of trust within the budget process.This case study is one example of how you can use the survey data, but the possibilities are endless. If you would like to share your best practices or have any questions about how to use the data, please let me know.


Marc Levinson
Executive Director, MISBO
Twitter:  @marcll

From → MISBO

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: