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A newsletter header image with an image of Dan Bollman behind the title 'The Details with Dan Bollman'

Why you should care about IPF financial planning

May 1, 2017

I’ve got a question for you. Do you care about IPF’s financial planning process? If you said, “No,” I’m betting you’re in good company. Unless you’re directly dealing with finances somehow, most people at IPF are likely to think, “That’s not my job,” or “That’s what my supervisor gets paid for!”

I hate to tell you this, but….you’re wrong.

Here’s why: MSU is facing a set of circumstances that’s having an impact on the bottom line—greater competition, an uncertain international climate and an even more uncertain U.S. response, the potential for less research grant funding, legal fees, flat or reduced state funding, a reluctance to impose a hefty tuition hike—it’s like a perfect storm and everyone’s about to get rained on. Every year, our administration asks all campus general fund units to cut their budget by one percent so that those funds can go toward new initiatives, but this year an additional one percent is being cut to address shortfalls. That’s $760,000 in real money for IPF. Other campus units also have two percent budget cuts to deal with, which could have an impact on us.

If you run into a difficult financial situation at home, what do you do? You think more critically about what you buy. You look for ways to get longer life out of what you already have. It’s no different at IPF. Every IPF employee—me, you, everyone!—needs to know what’s going on financially at MSU and IPF so that we can all help address the problem.

In past years, IPF has created a report for the Office of Planning and Budgets that shows all of IPF’s funding, whether it comes from general fund dollars or from customer payments. It happens well into the fiscal year (Octoberish), so it doesn’t really help IPF do any financial planning. At the beginning of this year, we took a look at actual IPF funds for the past several years and used that information to predict what our funding could look like in the future. We’re studying trends and thinking about what we we’ll need in the next fiscal year and beyond in order to come up with something that’s more than a “report”—it’s a planning tool.

Here’s where you come in. When you’re doing your job and you see things that need some attention from IPF, tell your supervisor. I know, I know—you’re already doing that, and that’s great! Keep it up because that’s one of the ways we find out what’s out there that may have an impact on our budget.

I also believe that every single IPF employee can think of at least one idea that will help IPF save more time, money or resources. Maybe it saves a few dollars or a few minutes. Maybe it saves thousands of dollars or many hours. It could be something as simple as saving one-sided printouts and using the other side to print drafts on, in order to save paper.

If you see something that makes that little voice in your head say, “Man, what a waste,” I want to know about it. If that little voice ever says, “I could do this faster if only…,” I want to know about it. Write it down and drop it in one of the wooden suggestion boxes we’ve got scattered around. Submit it to our online suggestion box. Respond to this email at TheDetails@ipf.msu.edu. Talk to your supervisor. Give your name or stay anonymous. The point is, share your idea!

Until next time,

Dan

P.S. By the way, there’s a name for this type of behavior. It’s called stewardship, and it just happens to be one of IPF’s strategic objectives.