Automating College Athletic Financial Planning and Reporting Needs

Automating College Athletic Financial Planning and Reporting NeedsInnovative Sports Strategies (ISS) provides a web-based financial planning and reporting software to college athletic departments. Founder, Brian Cole, built complex spreadsheets for college athletic departments that led to research determining that the vast majority of athletic departments maintain a complex web of spreadsheets to complete budget development, long-term forecasting, and internal and external reporting tasks. This includes the extensive NCAA and EADA reports required on an annual basis. To address these challenges, he subsequently founded ISS ( in May of 2007 and used a combination of bootstrapping and friends/family financing to begin initial development.

ISS spent approximately 18 months to continue research, prototype their application, and eventually made available the initial release of their financial planning and reporting solution, Elevation, in January 2009. The University of Oregon became the first user of Elevation at the time which allowed them to utilize a myriad of long-term forecasting features. Later in 2009, Oregon State University and Florida State University became the next beta partners. To put in place the next round of development and sales initiatives, ISS completed Series A Financing with a group of private investors.

In 2010, ISS launched the Accounting Integration module of Elevation which allows college athletic departments to automatically create reports in a template that mirrors how athletic departments make business decisions as opposed to how the university chart of accounts is set up. Users can also apply access levels so that coaches and other staff can quickly and easily access only the information that is relevant to them. The year ended with a total of 12 college athletic departments using Elevation.

The next step for Elevation was the early 2011 release of budget development features to provide all athletic department staff an easy method to enter budget requests and share that information with their sport administrators. The final major component to be released in early 2012 is the Financial Planning module which will automate the compilation of financial data required for NCAA and EADA reporting. This is a task that many schools currently spend a few hundred hours to complete and soon will be able to complete using an almost completely automated process.

Overall, Elevation can save thousands of dollars with budget development accountability through seamless budget request processing and turn-key forecasting, eliminate countless spreadsheets via a centralized and robust Web interface customized for coaches and staff, and reduce months of workload by accessing real-time budget status reports and generating NCAA and EADA deliverables.

To summarize the comprehensive list of Elevation features, here is a brief outline of all modules:

Budget & Forecasting – manage all financial data including detailed breakdowns of desired categories

  • Financial Planning – create budgets and perform long-term financial planning
  • Actual Totals – record transaction summaries for budget and forecasting comparisons

Accounting Integration – produce internal reports that utilize university accounting system data

  • Internal Reports – generate standard, user-defined, and custom reports
  • Actual Details – view, sort, filter, and edit actual transactions for internal reports
  • Encumbrance Details – view, sort, filter, and edit current encumbrance information
  • Data Import – import accounting system data seamlessly into Elevation

Financial Reporting – prepare deliverables and auditor documentation for EADA, NCAA, and other reports

  • External Reports – compile data formatted to assist with report submission
  • Actual Details – view, sort, filter, and edit actual transactions for external reports
  • Additional Amounts – add records for non-operating revenue or expense amounts
  • Reclassifying Entries – maintain a ledger with reclassifying entries unique to report versions
  • Allocation Groups – allocate any financial data across sports and genders

Customer Support – find all the resources necessary for enhancing your experience with Elevation

  • Frequently Asked Questions – access detailed descriptions of how to use Elevation
  • Help Desk – contact the Elevation Help Desk for answers or assistance
  • Feature Updates – learn about updates, upgrades, and known bugs
  • Support Services – review Licensor support services policies

At this time, competition for ISS and Elevation includes the traditional complex web of spreadsheets that must be continually updated, enhanced, and require a great deal of manual entry from one system and/or spreadsheet to another. The web-based financial planning and reporting capabilities of Elevation are revolutionary for the industry and are already bring a great deal of accountability, efficiency, and transparency to college athletics.

To continue to strength the relationship with college athletic departments and further enhance the experience for college athletic business managers, ISS has created an Elevation User Group on Linkedin. This group will allow business managers to ask questions of both ISS and each other, and to discuss experiences and ideas amongst a niche of their peers.

While ISS has generated a great deal of buzz within the college athletic business managers community and sees a great deal of growth on the horizon, the web-based nature and efficient design of Elevation allows ISS to maintain a highly-skilled and well-round staff of four employees. Like many web-based business applications highlighted in Shoestring Publications, the lean staff is able to continue to develop new features quickly as is becoming more and more common in technology today.

If you would like to keep up with ISS, Elevation, or college athletic business news, please follow us on the following sites:




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