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Four Things I Want You to Know About Your School’s Participation in BIIS

By Jeffrey Shields posted 11-07-2017 09:56 AM


CEO Notebook |

A call to action in support of data-driven decision-making.

Jeffrey Shields, FASAE, CAE
NBOA President and CEO

Three years ago, the NBOA Board of Directors began work in partnership with the NBOA staff to create Business Intelligence for Independent Schools (BIIS). Why? Relevant and reliable data is important to the work of business officers and the decisions you must make to help ensure your school’s long-term financial sustainability. For many years previously, NBOA had worked with third-party vendors to conduct our research, but these vendors were leaving the marketplace for a variety of reasons. NBOA needed to identify a new solution to continue providing this research to our member schools. Given the key role business officers play regarding data, the decision was made to provide a national data collection platform developed by business officers for business officers.

BIIS opened just a few weeks ago. Your participation in it is important for the following reasons.

1: All previous NBOA surveys are now housed in BIIS. BIIS replaces several separate surveys from NBOA, including the Business Office Compensation and Staffing Survey, Financial Position Survey and Business Office Survey. If you or your school relied on data from any of these previous research efforts, the only way to get the most up-to-date data now is by participating in BIIS. NBOA’s surveys have always been unique and complementary to other survey work available to most schools within our community. Most of this survey data is not available in any other national survey platform.

2: BIIS is better. This new online platform is pre-populated with all your school’s historical data from previous NBOA surveys, with the exception of the Commonfund Benchmark Study of Independent Schools. Never before has a school had the ability to access its data across all NBOA surveys in one place. In addition, the BIIS platform provides advanced data scrubbing to ensure the statistical integrity of your final reports. You will also have access to the data as soon as December 4, when reporting opens, rather than having to wait for written reports to be developed. Most importantly, BIIS includes customizable charts and graphs that can be inserted into Excel or PowerPoint. 

Sample chart available in the BIIS reporting module

In other words, BIIS provides you with the same national data set you’ve always gotten from NBOA, but in a more useful way for you and your school’s leadership team.

3: BIIS reduces “survey fatigue.” BIIS replaces three different survey requests from NBOA alone. Our future goal with BIIS is to work with other regional associations (ex. Cal-ISBOA and PAISBOA) to develop common and consistent definitions related to the business of independent schools that can easily port from one platform to another. If successful, we will be in a much stronger position to advocate for the use of these same data points and definitions in other regional and national survey efforts among independent schools. In turn, this will further reduce the number of calculations business officers must make to participate in a variety of surveys because these calculations will become universal.

We won’t be successful with this goal unless we have strong participation from business officers in BIIS.

4: BIIS reduces the total number of data points requested by NBOA. Under the auspices of a volunteer group of your business officer peers, BIIS distills NBOA’s previous research into the fewest number of data points with the greatest value to help inform your school’s business decisions. We have eliminated redundancies from previous NBOA research surveys while greatly expanding the list of positions for which we are collecting compensation and staffing data. Every data point covered provides an actionable outcome for business officers, an independent school’s leadership team and/or its Board of Trustees. We are confident that each data point in BIIS will help you drive data-driven business decisions for your independent school.

I understand and appreciate the vital role you play at your school regarding data collection. I also hear loud and clear your concerns about the number of surveys that land in your in-box each year. NBOA has invested in a best-in-class platform with the singular goal of providing you with clean and reliable data that business officers want and need in a simple, easy-to-use platform. I’m asking each of you to help ensure this investment pays dividends on behalf of NBOA members and business officers nationwide by entering your school’s data in BIIS by November 17.


Thank you in advance for acting on this request and for your continued support of your national association -- NBOA.


Follow NBOA President and CEO Jeff Shields @shieldsNBOA.
From Net Assets NOW, November 7, 2017. Read past issues of CEO Notebook.


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