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Labor Cost Benchmarking

Data-Driven Growth in the “COVID Recession”


Auburn University

Auburn University (AU), founded in 1856, is a public research university in Auburn, Alabama with nearly 25,000 undergraduate students. AU’s long history is a testament to its capacity to adapt. Now the school, which was ranked the 17th most efficient university in the nation, is developing a plan to move through what CFO Kelli Shoemaker calls the “COVID recession.”


"We want to recruit, we want to reward, and we want to retain our faculty and our staff...Membership in the Consortium helps university executives create their narrative, align resources, and get results."
Kelli Shomaker
Senior Vice President for Business & Administration and CFO

How AU Uses the Data


Smaller Investment Decisions

The institution lacked data to support decision making around administrative spending for their academic departments. With HelioCampus providing more than 50 data points that focus in areas like departmental support, IT, human resources, and more, Auburn could finally make informed decisions around administrative spending.


The Power of Benchmarks

AU faced a financial challenge because they were unable to identify their current spending compared to other institutions. Our benchmarking data allowed AU to compare their current spending to peer institutions to get a sense of where they are over- and under-invested.


Train & Retrain New Leaders

AU was under-funded in several departments that caused an influx of resource strain and decrease in employee retention rates. Without proper data, the institution faced a problem of not being able to pinpoint what those departments were to reallocate support and coordinate proper leadership training.  Our benchmarking data helped AU identify departments with insufficient funding where employees may be unsatisfied due to stress or resource strain, as well as over-funded departments where money can be reallocated to support institutional growth.


Growth in Economic Uncertainty

As universities across the country struggled to stay afloat through the COVID recession, AU was able to focus on adding programs where they will be most impactful and making data-driven decisions to avoid understaffing in target areas. Their confidence comes in large part from their work with HelioCampus Benchmarking, which provides data to support the university’s mission to become more efficient in the face of economic uncertainty.

Learn More About the Results

Read the case study to learn more about how HelioCampus helped Auburn use benchmarking to better understand how they compare with similar institutions so they can make smarter financial decisions during times of economic uncertainty.

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AU case study cover