ACUI Launches New Benchmarking Tool

In December, ACUI Benchmarking was launched, a new tool that allows users to enter data, view key performance indicators, and download comparative, presentation-ready reports. The tool was built in cooperation with Dynamic Benchmarking and will offer members the valuable data they need.

“Our members have indicated in various ways, whether through survey results or candid conversations, that they needed benchmarking data and were looking for ACUI to provide this,” said John Taylor, ACUI CEO. “We feel this tool will exceed the expectations of our members and adds a valuable benefit to membership.”

ACUI Benchmarking offers an Operations Survey and a Salary Survey. The Operations Survey spans a wide range of topics including facilities, administration, programming, and auxiliaries, in addition to an institutional profile. Examples of the types of data collected for each section include:

  • Institutional Profile: Reporting structure, website analytics, provision of auxiliary services, and campus characteristics
  • Facilities: Square footage, renovation history, LEED certifications, sustainability initiatives, user traffic, reservation numbers, and types of offices and amenities available in the building
  • Administration: Operating income, fee income, reserves balance, fundraising income, overhead costs, and personnel details
  • Program and Student Organizations: Programming boards, space allotment for student organizations and government, types of programming, number of programs, program finances, and recreational offerings
  • Auxiliaries: Dining services, catering, bookstores, hotel, and other retail establishments 

The Salary Survey encompasses both professional and student staff, covering administration, programs, and operations. For each position, users are asked for the number of staff in the role, the exempt status, average years in position and field, and average annual salary. Additionally, a benefits section poses questions about wellness programs, paid time off, and more. 

A priority for the benchmarking tool development was to ensure it was inclusive, providing means for institutions in a variety of situations—with or without a facility, with or without auxiliaries, etc.—to enter data and access reports based on unique contexts. One feature of ACUI Benchmarking is the ability to easily bypass sections or questions not applicable to an institution. However, members are encouraged to provide all data points possible to ensure thoroughness of reports. 

When the pertinent information is completed, the robust filtering system allows the user to drill down to the desired comparisons. Members can even create individualized peer clusters, which allow for data comparisons with specific institutions. At the conclusion of each data collection period, users can download slide decks containing charts that illustrate the key performance indicators, as well as spreadsheets with a summary of all data points. 

“The reporting system is a key aspect of ACUI Benchmarking,” said Taylor. “The ability to quickly obtain the data you need and even have pre-made slides for meetings with upper administration is a nice perk of this new member resource.”

The December launch followed a beta testing period, where 28 individuals from 14 member institutions were able to enter data, access comparison reports, and provide feedback. This information was used to make final adjustments to ensure the tool was ready for the full membership. By default, the primary contact for each member institution is the data entry contact; these individuals can add additional contacts and indicate which surveys each should be able to access.

The current data entry period will run through the end of February. At that time, the advanced reporting features will be available to those institutions that have participated. There will be benchmarking-related resources at the Annual Conference. Following the conference, the data entry period will continue through the end of April. In future years, the data entry period will be June–September, with data release in January.

For additional information on ACUI Benchmarking, go to acui.org/benchmarking.

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