Do you use financial management software (FMS) in your school, academy or multi-academy trust? If no, is it time to consider it?
If yes, are you sure that you’re using the software to its maximum potential?
SAAF Education provide financial management consultancy to schools, academies and MAT’s across the UK. We are experienced in operating various Financial Management Software (FMS) used across the sector. Our blog discusses which services your FMS should be providing, what you should be looking out for when making a decision and the benefits that your FMS should be delivering to your school to ensure that you are getting everything you can from your investment.
FMS exists to aid in the fulfilment of obligations within the school; statutory requirements or internal monitoring, as they fall due. It seeks to do so whilst using the least possible amount of resource to achieve the highest value for money.
While each system we work with has unique features, there are core functions that are common across most systems i.e. collating information, reporting tools, records for audit purposes. However, with the number of FMS programs available, there are some systems that hold a competitive advantage when evaluating return on investment – these are the aspects to consider when deciding whether to invest in your first FMS or upgrade your current FMS.
With the need for more frequent reporting, it is crucial that your FMS offers not only a wide range of reports, but also that the reporting suite is easy to use and illustrates the information required by stakeholders. Some systems that SAAF's Finance Consultant work with have been extremely effective in this area and have assisted users in high-level decision making.
It is key that schools effectively monitor and manage their budget. There are many software programs available to allow for this however, we’ve found that the most valuable systems can integrate with other FMS which inevitably mitigates chances of manual errors, alleviates duplication of work and saves time. For example, the ability for the staffing budget to flow through to the accounting system.
Also, the IT architecture for some FMS are more effective than others. Some systems do not allow for integration of software across multiple sites i.e. in MAT’s - one single system vs. multiple user faces, which can cause issues when collecting information and reporting.
Within the finance function, there are various people operating at different levels. It is key that the right parts of the system are aimed at the right people. The more effective systems allow for this level of control and aid in segregation of duties. This is achieved by the software having built-in user access levels that can be set in-line with the scheme of delegation.
SAAF Education can provide impartial advice to help you find the FMS that best fits your establishments needs. We can also provide support if you decide to upgrade your current FMS or choose a new piece of software.