How school financial software can save you time and reduce human error
With the education purse strings showing no signs of loosening, budgeting and financial forecasting for schools, academies and multi-academy trusts (MATs) is becoming increasingly complex. Here, Jane Gibson explains how cloud-based school financial software can help simplify the process by eliminating a number of redundant or duplicated tasks which are draining staff resources and hindering productivity.
Anyone working in a school finance department will understand how difficult it is to balance budgets while continuing to provide a high standard of teaching and safeguarding pupil and staff wellbeing. Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid certain recurring challenges such as teacher absence or variations in pupil intake numbers.
These issues are often reported as one of the biggest problems faced by finance teams and can have a massive impact on budgeting. High absence rates result in increased spending on staff, while low pupil intake will reduce a schools overall income. Implementing school resource planning software or school financial software, designed by education experts, can alleviate some of the stress this unpredictability might bring. Finance teams can quickly and easily model the financial impact of a whole range of issues, allowing them to make more informed decisions for short, medium and long term planning. This significantly reduces the chances of any unforeseen budget shortfalls or unplanned spend.
When we work with schools, many finance teams report feeling anxious around creating accurate budgets due to the dynamic nature of school income and expenditure levels. Software, such as Access Education Budgets, gives finance teams the ability to create accurate forecasts of up to five years. Not only will this save time, it will also give trust leaders piece of mind around expenditure and future financial planning. Accurate budget planning is crucial to ensure high standards of teaching are maintained and resource is adequately distributed. As the software is delivered through a cloud-based platform all necessary stakeholders such as governors, finance directors and management staff can easily access these reports and make key decisions based on up-to-date data.
Monitoring real-time spending against the original budget plans can also be simplified through the implementation of software. Finance teams can rely on the software to automatically collate budget variances, pension payments and the cost of total pay. Keeping on top of this can be challenging and often becomes difficult for teams managing larger schools due to their complex budgets and staff structures. School financial software can also generate economies of scale, allowing cost efficient commissioning and purchase of goods and services. This has proved incredibly useful and has helped numerous schools stick to their original budget plans.
Actual staff costs are variable and will fluctuate from year to year depending on nationally applied pay rates. Staying on top of this can become tricky for finance teams managing a number of budgets across different sites. Introducing cloud-based software will immediately relieve some of these stresses by automatically re-adjusting and recalculating the data. National pay scales allow school leaders to easily calculate their school’s pay bill, which is always a schools largest budget item. Given the sheer size of this bill, it is crucial that a school stays on top of it, otherwise they risk facing a hefty, unforeseen bill.
Financial planning and budgeting software has the potential to transform the workings of a finance department. Many Access customers notice instant benefits, from efficiency optimisation, increased productivity to the ability to make better informed financial planning decision.