header hallway

4 Ways 4Cast Improves Efficiency & Saves Money

As a Medical Center Administrator, you’re always looking for ways to find efficiencies and save your Station money.  Each dollar saved in one area can be redirected to another area of need.  Or, if your Station is facing a deficit, savings opportunities are key to achieving a balanced financial position.

The Plan 4 Healthcare team understands how important it is for Medical Centers to plan and budget in ways that promote efficiency and cost effective outcomes.  We also understand that solutions you use to support planning and operations must themselves demonstrate a positive Return on Investment (ROI) for the Station.

In other words, if you’re going to invest money into a technology solution, you need to feel confident that the savings you achieve through improved financial outcomes and freeing up of resources exceed the cost of your investment.

The Plan 4 team designed the 4Cast solution to drive efficiencies and achieve positive ROI for Medical Centers in several ways.

Drawing on five years of experience implementing 4Cast for 25 VA Medical Centers, here are four specific examples of savings and ROI that we’ve observed and heard from our customers.

4 Ways 4Cast Saves Your Medical Center Money and Demonstrates Positive ROI

1. Reduces Manual Effort

As we detailed in a recent post, 4Cast eliminates the need to develop manual spreadsheets and reports to support budget calls and aspects of ongoing financial reporting.  We know these tasks require weeks and months of effort from Administrative and Fiscal Team members each year.

4Cast lifts the burden of manual work by automating processes for data loads and eliminating the need to build and track tactical, budget, and financial spreadsheets.

Potential ROI: Saves the time of 1 – 2 Admin/Fiscal Team FTEE each year, allowing these resources to reduce manual work and redirect time to analysis and other higher priority needs.

Setting up spreadsheets for Budget Calls and Resource Tracking is repetitive and time consuming.  Let 4Cast take this burden off of your Administrative and Fiscal Teams and free you up for more important tasks.

2. Improves Planning Accuracy

ELT Members and CFOs have shared their frustrations about critical operational and budgetary needs being missed during the annual planning/budget call process.  For example, a Service might forget to include the need for a significant contract in their annual request.  These misses cause huge headaches later in the year when unplanned needs emerge and suddenly require funding.

By providing a consistent user interface, offering validation features, and directly integrating historical FTEE, FCP, Contract, FEE and other data from your key financial systems, 4Cast greatly increases the chances that needs and projections will be accurately captured and accounted for during budget decision making.  As the year progresses, having accurate requests and projections in 4Cast along with Service-specific budget targets will reduce the need for constant meetings and decisions in Resource Committee.

Potential ROI: Hundreds of thousands or even millions each fiscal year by ensuring all operational needs are captured and accounted for during annual planning and budgeting.

3. Increases Financial Accountability

4Cast significantly increases the visibility and availability of financial and budget data across the Medical Center.  4Cast Monitoring tools provide Service Managers and Leadership team members with easy-to-understand graphs, charts, and detailed data showing year-to-date resource utilization, usage compared to budget, and projected future usage compared to budget. 4Cast also offers planning tools to evaluate FTEE scenarios, to include strategic hiring decisions and projection of budget impact.

By providing Services with modern tools to track and manage resources, 4Cast promotes proactive financial management, reduces variability, and increases the likelihood that Services will manage more effectively and end the year on budget.

Potential ROI: Hundreds of thousands or even millions each year by arming Managers with tools to improve financial accountability and ownership of resource management.  

Monitoring tools in 4Cast such as the FTEE Scenario tool depicted above will jumpstart accountability and proactive management across your Medial Center.

4. Drives Organizational Alignment and Better Financial Outcomes

In the three items above, we’ve explained how 4Cast can save time and money by improving upon current planning and tracking processes.  However, when applied to its full potential and paired with a comprehensive Business Planning approach, 4Cast can lead to a complete realignment and turnaround of a Medical Center’s performance and financial position.  This is because 4Cast is designed to help Medical Centers directly link annual budget and operational planning back to strategic goals and other Station-level priorities.

By fostering alignment across all aspects of planning, Medical Centers can move toward aligning resources to foundational services and achieving strategic hiring.  In one example, a Medical Center we worked with eliminated a budget deficit of over $25M in one Fiscal Year by realigning resources and controlling FTEE within the context of budgeted levels.

Potential ROI: Millions or even tens of millions for a Station over one to three fiscal years as strategic and budgetary alignment is achieved.

Ready to See 4Cast For Yourself?

Schedule a brief demonstration today to see with your own eyes how 4Cast will provide significant positive ROI for your Medical Center in all of these four ways.  Our team stands ready to help you with your FY21 Planning and Resource Monitoring.


header building exterior

5 Ways Planning Technology Saves You Time

Effective annual planning requires a lot of time and effort. Every year, you need to:

  • prepare and collect financial and operational data
  • gather input from managers and executives from across the organization
  • develop financial projections
  • make tactical decisions and establish budget targets
  • communicate outcomes
  • track results

At the same time, annual planning and budgeting isn’t just an optional task; it’s something that all high performing organizations must repeat each year. 

As renowned management expert Peter Drucker once said:

Unfortunately, many organizations, even those who are highly committed to strong management practices, use manual methods to conduct most types of planning.

Here are a just a few examples of manual, time-consuming activities that are repeated each year:

  • Retrieving financial and operational data needed for planning and splitting it out into various documents, spreadsheets, and reports
  • Creating and updating dozens of spreadsheets each year to keep pace with organizational changes and evolving needs
  • Collecting requests and projections from across departments/units in disparate spreadsheets
  • Aggregating and rolling-up all projections from across many departments and spreadsheets
  • Maintaining shared sites that contain myriad files and require constant permissions management
  • Tracking decisions and action items in email chains

It’s 2020!  Save time and money by moving out of the dark ages of manual planning….

These manual steps add an unnecessary burden to leaders and financial managers who are already pressed for time. The inefficiency is especially painful in a year like 2020 where many organizations have directed significant energy to the COVID-19 pandemic response.

As an executive or manager responsible for planning, you literally can’t afford wasted time or resources within your planning efforts.

This raises an important question – how can you most efficiently tackle your planning requirements each year?

One readily available solution is to use technology to streamline all aspects of your planning process. A modern system such as Plan4’s 4Cast platform will automate many functions, retain and aggregate data, and track decisions, saving you effort, time, and ultimately, money.

Let’s explore five specific examples where a true planning solution like 4Cast will help your organization.

5 Ways that 4Cast Will Save You Time (and Money)

1) Data Preparation – A fully integrated planning effort entails many data elements from an array of sources. Here is a list of a few:

As a modern planning platform, 4Cast gives you the ability to aggregate this information into one place. These data elements can be loaded or even directly integrated from source systems into your planning solution. Data integration prevents you from having to pull everything together by hand.

2) Data Collection – Many of the data elements you need for planning will come from the managers in your organization. For example, managers of each department/function play a key role in planning by developing budgetary projections for a variety of resource areas. Instead of gathering this information via spreadsheets, a planning solution like 4Cast provides you with a secure, consistent, and user-friendly method to collect everything you will need from across the organization. Additionally, a planning tool will automatically roll-up all data into useful and customizable views.

3) Accuracy – A common planning challenge is dealing with inaccurate projections and requests. In a manual process, the probably of encountering data errors and omissions is high. A comprehensive planning solution like 4Cast provides data validation features and the ability to identify any data issues or outliers. Even better, a leading solution will apply analytics to assist with projecting accurate trends and scenarios.

4) Tracking – Your planning process will result in many outcomes and decisions that need to be tracked and managed.  These may include approvals, action items, budget allocations, performance targets, and more.  A solution like 4Cast retains all of these critical items and presents them in easy-t0-use dashboards for executives and managers to view and update.  In addition to a time saving benefit, the features also increase accountability and transparency.

5) Support – With a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution such as 4Cast, you get more than just technology.  You’ll also have access to a support team ready to assist with configuration, data preparation, user support, and training.  Additionally, the support team has guides, manuals, and other best practices readily available to share.  In a year where you and your staff are pressed for time, having access to this level of support can make all the difference.

You’ve got enough on your plate.  Let the Plan4 team lend a hand and help you use 4Cast to make your planning efforts as efficient as possible. 


So, how can planning technology save you time?

By automating manual efforts, streamlining processes, decreasing errors, preventing rework, and adding extra muscle to your team.

And money?

By reducing staffing dedicated to planning, by increasing the quality of your planning, and ensuring follow-through on budget planning and financial performance.

The Plan4 Team stands ready to help your organization use our 4Cast platform to start saving time and money.  Contact us to schedule a demonstration and discuss how we can be of service.

Improve Budget Tracking, Monitoring, and Performance with 4Cast

As a Medical Center CFO, you’re responsible for tracking and reporting your Station’s expenditures throughout the year.

You’re also on point for making end of year projections and keeping leadership informed of likely financial scenarios.

Yet, even with extensive financial data and analysis in hand, it is impossible for a CFO to control all aspects of a Medical Center’s financial outcomes.

This is because Service Chiefs and other managers across the station have the authority to spend or at least significantly influence resources, especially for FTEE, Overtime, Fund Control Points, Contracts, and Fee Provider usage.

The Challenge for CFOs

To effectively guide the financial performance of a Medical Center, CFOs must help Service Chiefs take responsibility for budget tracking and resource utilization. They need Services to understand the details of their financial data and take proactive steps if usage falls out of line with budgets and projections.

Unfortunately, disseminating timely and accurate budget and financial data across the organization is a time-consuming activity. It requires Fiscal Teams to extract data, create reports and spreadsheets, divide them up by Service, and send them around the organization. These steps must be repeated each pay period throughout the year.

In addition to providing data to Services, CFOs also need to provide Leadership with simple to use dashboards and reports identifying the overall financial trajectory of the Medical Center throughout the year.

4Cast is Built to Help You Meet These Challenges

Plan4 Healthcare understands the challenges you face around budget tracking and guiding financial performance. That’s why we’ve built extensive Monitoring capabilities into the 4Cast platform. The Monitoring tools in 4Cast are designed to:

  • Pull in multiple financial data sets (PAID, SOA, Vacancy Lists, etc.) into one system and eliminate the manual effort required to develop financial reports for Services and Leadership
  • Present year-to-date resource usage at the Service and Station levels in easy to understand graphs and charts
  • Show forward-looking projections for each resource area for future pay periods as compared to budget targets
  • Provide the ability to drill down into detailed levels of data to enable managers and leaders to better understand and validate financial data

Together, these Monitoring tools save time for CFOs while significantly increasing the visibility of critical financial and budget data throughout the system. From there, 4Cast Monitoring lays the foundation for improved accountability, communication, and outcomes.

Let’s look at examples of how 4Cast Monitoring can complement your financial data and tracking across the Medical Center.

Actual Year-To-Date

A simple yet critical data point for any resource is, how much of the resource has been utilized so far this year? Services need to be able to answer this question quickly and accurately for any given resource at any point in the year. 4Cast accomplishes this by providing easy to understand charts illustrating usage by pay period. For example, here is a graph illustrating YTD Overtime:

At a quick glance, we can see that this Service has expended $1,493,954 in Overtime costs through Pay Period 12. The blue line shows the Service’s entire YTD trend to include data points highlighting amounts spent in each individual pay period.

Projected Compared to Budget

It’s hard to tell if a Service’s resource usage is appropriate unless it’s viewed relative to a budgeted or targeted amount. That’s why 4Cast Monitoring allows your Fiscal team to capture budget targets for all resource areas, by Service. 4Cast can then display usage compared to budget as well as project future usage based on year-to-date trends. Here is a view of the same Service’s OT graph with Budget and Projected values added in:

We now see a more complete picture of this Service’s OT usage for the year. The Service exceeded their OT budget for the year in PP11. If current trends continue, they will end the year at nearly $2M in OT, which is approximately $616,00 or 45% over their budget. This is a scenario that most CFOs would love to avoid, or at least be aware of early in the fiscal year so adjustments can be considered. Having these graphs available to Service Chiefs throughout the year will greatly increase the station’s ability to identify and prevent these types of overages.

Monitoring Details

To fully understand and act on financial and budget issues, Service Chiefs need the ability to dig deeper into their financial data to understand what is driving trends. 4Cast is designed to facilitate this level of analysis by showing detailed data down to the individual FTEE and Pay Period levels.   Continuing on with the example of a Service reviewing Overtime data, here is a snapshot of details (note – names are obfuscated from the view):

This detailed level of data, which in this case is sorted by total OT paid YTD, allows a Service Chief to quickly identify which employees are utilizing the highest amount of overtime. 4Cast allows the Chief to expand the view of detailed data to include OT by Pay Period. If needed, they can quickly export the detail into excel for further review and analysis.

Scenario Analysis

For resource areas such as FTEE, predicting future trends for the sake of budget analysis can be complicated by variables such as the number of vacant positions, time to fill, and losses. 4Cast give Service Chiefs the power to model scenarios of likely gains and losses to compare how the projected future flow of FTEE in their Service will compare to budget levels and where they’ll end the year. Here is an example:

The graph shows that the Service is under budget for FTEE through Pay Period 12. In the worksheet below the graph, the Service has identified potential gains and losses to include a time dimension of when those actions may occur. 4Cast uses this input to project forward a position where the Service will end the near exactly on point with their Cumulative FTEE budget of 156. 4Cast can simplify this process by importing vacancy lists from HR Smart to ensure the data used for scenario planning is accurate and consistent.

Station-level Views

Finally, 4Cast has a series of Monitoring tools designed to provide an overview of resource utilization across the entire Medical Center. These rolled-up views offer Leadership team members to perform a quick analysis of overall financial and budgetary performance both today and projected for the remaining portion of the year. These views can progressively be drilled down to the Service level with the ability to sort by Services who are most over or under budget year to date as well as by projected year-end position. Here is an example of a facility-level FTEE Monitoring graph displaying overall YTD cumulative FTEE compared to budget as well as planned and projected FTEE levels going forward.

Check Out 4Cast Monitoring Today

The Plan4 Team stands ready to implement 4Cast to save your Fiscal Team time while expanding the visibility of financial and budget data throughout the organization.  Monitoring capabilities can be deployed for Medical Center within a matter of days of initial configuration.  We have the ability to include transfers and adjustments throughout the year.  Contact us today to schedule a brief demonstration and discuss how we can be of service.