Beginning in mid-August 2016, FFRA website content will be moving to the Northwestern IT site's new section for Administrative Systems.

NUPlans News


Prepare for FY17 Budget Prep in NUPlans

April 2016

 

FY17 Budget Prep in NUPlans opens April 20, 2016

You'll notice a number of updates in NUPlans this year:

System Access

General

  • Additional funds for $0 budgets in NUPlans Budgeting
  • F&A Rate may now be added on Grant proposals in NUPlans Web

Salary Budgeting

  • Salary budgeting now uses Methods, similar to Forecasting
  • Additional data in Comp Input includes Job Titles, Vacant Positions, FY16 FASIS Annual Rate, FY17 Job Annual Rate, FY16 Distribution
  • Comp Input includes new Mass Load functionality, allowing you to load a salary budgeting method for an entire budget grouping at one time

Reporting

  • There are two new Budget Summary reports in NUPlans:
    • Budget Summary by Fund
    • Budget Summary Totals by Prep File
  • In addition the existing Budget Summary Report now provides an optional prompt to unsuppress zero rows

 

Webinar

Recorded Webinar: What's New in NUPlans Budgeting

Presentation Slides: What's New in NUPlans Budgeting FY17 Presentation


Multi-factor Authentication for NUPlans

April 2016

 

New Login Process as of 7pm on April 14, 2016

In partnership with the Office of Budget and Planning, Northwestern Information Technology (IT) will enable Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) on NUPlans to enhance information security, at 7:00 p.m. on April 14, 2016.


More information: Multi-factor Authentication for NUPlans


NUPlans Security Access Changes

February 2016

 

New Process as of February 1, 2016
  • Beginning in February, NUPlans access requests will be streamlined. Financial Operations IT will manage NUPlans security requests the same way that NUFinancials security is managed. 
  • People who need access to NUPlans will use the FFRA General Security Access form (or FFRA Systems Express Form) to request access or changes, rather than contacting their budget prep file area contact or their budget analyst. 
  • No action is required on the part of current NUPlans users whose access has already been granted.

More information: FFRA Security Forms and Workflow Setup



NUPlans Upgrade and Downtime

September 2015

 

Upgrade will go live in mid-October 2015

NUPlans, Northwestern's system for annual budget preparation and financial forecasting, will be undergoing an upgrade in October to add new functionality, improved performance, and an easier login process.

System Downtime

NUPlans will be unavailable beginning at 8am on Oct. 12 until 8am on Oct. 16.


NUPlans Upgrade and Downtime Details


Prepare for FY16 Budget Preparation in NUPlans

April 2015

 

FY16 Budget Prep in NUPlans opens April 21, 2015.

Updated functionality includes:

  • Fund Input and Comp Budget by Chart String views have separate dimensions for chart strings and accounts, making the views similar to Detailed Forecasting in NUPlans Forecasting
  • Accounts, salary placeholders and grant proposals can all be added in real-time
  • Salary placeholders and grant proposals can now be modified
  • Removal of Budget Drivers and Use of Fund Balance functionality
  • Addition of historical actuals/budget data in Grant Input view
  • Updated directory structure in NUPlans Web, to be more similar to NUPlans Forecasting
  • New Variance Reports
  • Enhancements to streamline data entry for Commitments
  • Additional salary data from FASIS

Get more information in NUPlans training materials, including a webinar on April 15th:
NUPlans Training Information

 

Tuition Forecasting Update

December 2014

 

Tuition Forecasts Now Flow Automatically
  • Tuition program profiles now support the use of chart strings.
  • This means that, once entered, data from tuition forecasts will flow automatically to chart string forecasts instead of having to be entered again manually.       
  • More information: Tuition Forecasting Training Materials

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Account Category Hierarchy Update for Indirect Costs

August 2014

 

New Indirect Costs Expense Category

The account category hierarchy is being updated to better handle some indirect cost accounts. Changes to the account hierarchy will affect all forecasting data, including data from previous forecasting periods.

  • A new expense category is being created, called "Indirect Costs."
  • It will include account codes 78700 (F&A) and 78710 (Indirect Cost – Sponsored), which were previously in the "Other Expenses" category.
    • In addition, those account codes will no longer be included in the grant direct expense amounts imported from NUFinancials.
    • Previously 78700 was in the "Other Direct Exp. Included" grant expense category, and 78710 was in the "Other Direct Exp. Excluded" grant expense category.
    • The changes for grant expense categories will not affect past forecasting data, and will be in effect as of the July forecasting period for FY 2014.
  • Account code 78730 (Indirect Cost – Auxiliary) is being moved from "Other Expenses" to "Transfers to NU Central."
  • A new revenue category is being created, called "Redistributed ICR." It will include account code 88511 (NMT – Redistributed ICR), which was previously in the "Grants & Contracts – Indirect" category.

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New Functionality in NUPlans Forecasting

August 2014

 

Copy Comments

The Copy Comments form in the Administrative directory provides functionality to copy comments entered in forecasting input cubes from one forecasting period to another.

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New Reports

Two new reports are available. For more information about these reports, refer to the NUPlans Forecasting Reports manualpdf icon.

  • Account Category Summary by Fund
  • All Funds Performance – Prep File Summary

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NUPlans Tuition Forecasting Functionality to be Rolled Out in Phases

June 2014

 

Tuition forecasting in NUPlans is being rolled out to the Northwestern forecasting user community in two phases.

 

Summary

Available now in FY14 are the capabilities to:

  • enter tuition forecasts
  • create and profile tuition programs.

 

Coming soon for FY15 is an automated data flow that will enable users to:

  • enter tuition forecasts once for each tuition program
  • see the forecasted revenue in the Linked In columns of the forecasting views. 

Tuition forecasting options for FY14 are detailed below. Discuss these options with your Budget Office Budget Analyst to determine the best option for your needs.

 

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Background

Per current and historical practice, tuition forecasting is done in locally created Excel spreadsheets or databases. Forecasts are normally based on student headcounts and rates, with headcounts derived from student enrollment data collected from the Student Enrollment System (SES).

In the past, the results of these locally performed forecasts were entered into Excel Forecast Templates distributed by the Budget Office to participating schools and units. Now and going forward, the results of these forecasts can be entered into NUPlans.

 

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Enter Tuition Forecasts in NUPlans

There are several options for entering the results of tuition forecasting into NUPlans:  

  1. at the account level in Detailed Forecasting
  2. as a lump sum with other revenue in Chart String Forecasting
  3. as a lump sum within the appropriate revenue account category in Summary Forecasting
  4. at the Fund level within the “Performance Input” column of the All Funds Performance views

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Create and Profile Tuition Programs

NUPlans also enables you to create tuition programs, profile the programs, and enter tuition forecasts with those programs.

Currently, the purposes of creating and profiling tuition programs in NUPlans are to:

  1. inform you or your colleagues how to enter forecasts elsewhere in NUPlans
  2. inform the Central Budget Office about the program
  3. create a historical record


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Temporary Tuition Forecasting Process

Schools and units who use the tuition program and profiling capabilities of NUPlans must also enter the forecasted revenue in one of the four forecast levels of NUPlans.

  1. Create a record of the tuition programs within your Area.
  2. Create a profile of each program that identifies the recipient and the percentage distribution of revenue.
  3. Use the Tuition Input view to enter head counts, rates, and methods, to view calculations of revenue, and to view the distribution of revenue to central, school, and other entities, based on the profile.
  4. Temporary Final Step: Refer to the calculated distributions in Tuition Input to inform forecasts that you enter at the Detailed, Chart String, Summary, or All Funds level.

The final step is temporary, pending the addition to NUPlans of an automated data flow from Tuition Input to the four levels of forecasting and to reports.

 

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Coming Soon for FY15

In the near future, the NUPlans will enable you to assign the revenue for tuition programs to various chart strings. The data you enter once within Tuition Input will flow to the four levels of forecasting and to forecasting reports.

This automated data flow functionality is in development. When complete, the Budget Office and NUIT Administrative Systems will announce the availability to participating users. Training will accompany the rollout.


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NUPlans Forecasting is live!

March 25, 2014

Authorized users can now log in to NUPlans Forecasting via the NUPortal:
NUPortal > Financial > System Login > NUPlans Web

Training

NUPlans Forecasting is now live. Log in to NUPlans Forecasting using your NetID via the NUPortal:
NUPortal > Financial > System Login > NUPlans Web

Online Training
Prior to classroom training, please complete the online introductory course - registration is optional:
FMS716 NUPlans Forecasting Basics

Classroom Training Information and Registration
Classroom course FMS717 NUPlans Operational Forecasts is an in-person course and registration is required.

Find course descriptions, registration, and material links:
NUPlans Training Information

Watch for additional courses in early April.

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Help

Questions?
consultant@northwestern.edu or 1-HELP, option 2 (847-491-4357). NUPlans Training

Logging In to NUPlans
For updated instructions on logging into NUPlans, including information on supported browsers, please see our Job Aid:
Log in to NUPlans Web Forecastingpdf icon

Help
For NUPlans system help, contact our Help desk:
1-HELP (847-491-4357), option 2, or consultant@northwestern.edu.

Open Labs will be available year-round.

Listserv
All authorized NUPlans Forecasting users have been added to the NUPLANS-FORECAST listserv to share tips and tricks, possible issues, and important news.

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NUPlans is live!

April 16, 2013

New training classes have been added in Evanston--register before they fill up!

NUPlans Training

Budget Office Readiness Meeting Presentation Posted

April 6, 2013

Our Colleagues in the Budget Office have posted the presentation from their April 5 meeting:

NUPlans Readiness Meeting Presentation pdf icon

Go-live April 16

April 1, 2013

Are You Ready?

First read Preparing for NUPlans, below. Then check out our Training and System Access pages for more information.

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Preparing for NUPlans
- What to Consider BEFORE Training

March 7, 2013

Budgeting Process Changes (for Budget Managers)

Budget managers can use this checklist to assist in preparing for changes to expect with NUPlans.

People

  • Inform colleagues who are new to budgeting, or who will have greater involvement, about their role and responsibilities.

Process and Policy

Centralized or Distributed Budgeting
  • Communicate your area’s approach to budgeting: centralized or distributed.
Employee-level Compensation Estimates
  • Communicate your area’s compensation increase parameters.
  • Communicate your area’s expectations related to sources of salary outside the end user’s budget grouping. Does your area prefer (1) all funding sources in the budget preparation file or (2) only funding sources that affect your budget?
Detail or Summary Account Budgeting
  • Communicate the level of detail expected in your area’s budgets as well as any specific account codes in use within your area.
Automatic Balancing
  • Communicate your area’s decision about the use of automatic balancing.
Revenue and Expense Budgeting
  • Communicate the implications of true R&E budgeting in all funds within your area.

Technology

Security
  • Inform users about their security access profile. Security access options exist for roles, data, and versioning.
Workflow
  • Encourage reviewers to coordinate workflow with their end users.
Versioning
  • Communicate your area’s decision related to versioning.
Adjunct Tasks in NUPlans Web
  • Encourage reviewers to coordinate adjunct tasks in NUPlans Web, such as chart string maintenance, with their end users’ needs.
New Overnight Processes
  • Keep in mind that some additions to the budget made in NUPlans Web flow to Contributor overnight, and changes to the Chart of Accounts in NUFinancials flow to Contributor overnight.
  • Consider adding placeholders, accounts, and grant proposals in NUPlans Web in advance of budget preparation in Contributor.
Grant Expense Estimates
  • Communicate your area’s preferred method of entering estimates in the Grant Input view.
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Budgeting Process Changes (for NUPlans users at all levels)

Below are potential changes, impacts, and suggestions related to people, process, and technology.

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Changes

Impacts

Suggestions

 People

1

NUPlans may involve more people in budgeting.

Some budget group leaders may distribute budgeting tasks among members of their respective budget groups.

Variable Impact

Budget Group leaders can spend more time reviewing and coordinating budget preparation.
More staff will gain greater insights into budgeting.

  1. Inform colleagues who are new to budgeting or who will incur changes in role, responsibility, or level of involvement.
  2. Training will introduce your colleagues to NUPlans and the Budget Preparation Process.

Process and Policy

2

Centralized or Distributed Budgeting

NUPlans enables a flexible approach to budget preparation, organized from the bottom up or conducted at the school/unit level.

Variable Impact

Areas will decide policy and determine the change impact

Communicate your area’s approach to budgeting: centralized or distributed.

3

Employee-level Compensation Estimates

Compensation estimates are entered at the employee level. Benefits are calculated automatically.

The Compensation View shows all employees and employee funding sources within the budget group. The view allows users to add rows for funding sources outside the budget group.

High Impact

Communicate your area’s compensation increase parameters.
Communicate your area’s expectations related to sources of salary outside the end user’s budget grouping.

4

Detail or Summary Account Budgeting

Account-level detail is encouraged but not required.

As more schools/units provide detailed budgets, the University’s ability to analyze and forecast improves.

Variable Impact

Areas will decide policy and determine the change impact

Communicate the level of detail expected in your area’s budgets as well as any specific account codes in use within your area.

5

Automatic Balancing

NUPlans can apply automatic balancing to all chart strings.

Out-of-balance amounts (deficit or excess) feed a dynamic calculation of Carry Forward, whether a use or buildup of reserves.

Variable Impact

Areas will decide policy and determine the change impact

Communicate your area’s decision about the use of automatic balancing.

6

Revenue and Expense Budgeting

NUPlans enables users to estimate revenue and expenses for all funds. This is new and required in Gift and Endowment funds and new but optional in designated funds.

Variable Impact

Areas will decide policy and determine the change impact

Communicate the implications of true R&E budgeting in all funds within your area.

Technology

7

Security

Security access options exist for roles, data, and versioning.

High Impact

Inform users about their security access profile.

8

Workflow

NUPlans enables multiple collaborators to create a single budget preparation file.
NUPlans workflow facilitates handoff and the communication of milestones.

Medium Impact

Encourage reviewers to coordinate workflow with their end users.

9

Versioning

NUPlans enables qualifying users to create alternate versions of the budget.

High Impact

Communicate your area’s decision related to versioning.

10

Adjunct Tasks in NUPlans Web

Some adjunct tasks take place in NUPlans Web (Commitments, Allocations, Chart String Maintenance, Versioning, and Reporting). Functionality in NUPlans Web is tied to the security access profile.

Medium Impact

Inform users about their security access profile.
Encourage reviewers to coordinate tasks with their end users’ needs.

11

New Overnight Processes

Going forward, some things are added to the budget preparation file in Contributor overnight: accounts for full chart strings, placeholders, grant proposals, new versions, and new base chart strings and status changes from NUFinancials.

Medium Impact

Be aware that some changes flow to Contributor overnight.
Consider adding placeholders, accounts, and proposals in NUPlans Web in advance of budget preparation in Contributor.

12

Grant Expense Estimates

Indirect Cost Recovery (ICR) is calculated based on expense estimates entered by budgeters in the Grants View and F&A rates imported from NUFinancials.
Users can create dummy chart strings in NUPlans Web for use in Grants View AND in the Compensation View.

 

Low Impact

Communicate your area’s preferred method of entering estimates in the Grant Input view, if any.

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Questions You May Have Before Training

1.

Why are there two components of NUPlans?

 

There are two components of NUPlans: NUPlans Web and NUPlans Contributor.

In NUPlans Web, users perform adjunct tasks, such as Commitments, Appropriations, and Chart String Maintenance. They click to make amounts and changes flow to the budget preparation file in Contributor. Web makes it possible to segregate those tasks.

Contributor contains the budget preparation file and shows all or part of the budget per the user’s role and data security.

2.

Does NUPlans change the budget preparation process?

 

No, but some dependencies are removed.
In general, budget preparation may start earlier and may extend later. For example, you may have access to NUPlans before appropriations and other aspects of the budget model are finalized.

3.

What if our colleagues log in to Contributor but they do not see their appropriation?

 

There may be some budgeting tasks that you/they can accomplish before the appropriation arrives.
The Budget Office announces appropriations when they are available. At that time, you and other qualifying users can distribute it – or not. You can subsequently redistribute as many times as you need. Just communicate to your internal stakeholders what they need to know.

4.

Does security affect how I share information with colleagues?

 

Yes, security may change what some of your colleagues can see.
For example, reports tied to security may only be available to you. In the past, you e-mailed a budget preparation spreadsheet provided by the Budget Office. Going forward, you must export a report to Excel in order to share it.

5.

Does distributed budgeting change our support model?

 

Yes and no. While technical support still comes from the Help Desk, distributed budgeting may change other aspects of your internal communication protocol.
Area Reviewers and Budget Analysts who formerly did the bulk of budget preparation may now provide guidance, develop employees, and implement policy.

  • Area Budget Analysts and Reviewers should be prepared to answer questions such as “What increase percentages should go in the Compensation view? When are projections due? What level of detail or accuracy is expected of me in budget estimates? What do I do with employees who are partially paid by another department?”
  • Cafe training can address system usage and outline the options for internal budgeting practices, but will not provide definitive guidance for internal budgeting practices.

6.

How can we prepare our colleagues in advance of training?

 

Meet with anyone involved in budget preparation for the first time, explain the process, and preview the training schedule, security access, and budgeting role.

An Introduction to NUPlans online demo will also be available in the NUPlans Training area on the Cafe website the week of March 11, 2013. Recorded presentations explain in 5-10 minutes the topics that staff need for a baseline understanding of the components and capabilities of NUPlans.

 

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