Ivybridge Community College is a new academy based in Ivybridge, Devon. It specialises in sport, science and languages, and now has over 2,200 pupils. Teaching students from a catchment area of over 100 miles, and from 14 primary schools, it is heavily oversubscribed and has been described as “outstanding” by OFSTED on 5 occasions.
Ivybridge needed to upgrade, from its existing FMS financial accounting software, to meet its new financial reporting requirements as an academy. Financial accountability for academies is exacting because it is very different to those of a maintained school.
When Ivybridge Community College became a directly-funded academy in November 2010, the Principal realised that it would have to undergo a complete and thorough review. As an “outstanding” school, it would need to demonstrate its innovation, as well as the robustness of all the procedures.
Ivybridge realised from an early stage that the financial reporting requirement was not only completely different to that of a school, but also offered them a great opportunity to review and optimise their financial control system with a new product.
Since implementing PS Financials’ software, Ivybridge has benefitted from:
– A more user-friendly system that anyone, not just accounting staff can use
– Improved management with less time spent chasing up paperwork
– Better reporting systems, so that monthly, quarterly and annual reports can be easily produced on demand
– Huge savings of administrative time;
– Additional reductions in academy operating costs
– Providing departmental budget holders with up-to-date and accurate information
The Finance Officer explains how Ivybridge made their decision: “We’d heard good things about PS Financials from other academy users and, after looking at a range of products, we chose PSF.
We did look at other companies, but the deciding factor was that PS Financials was the best solution for an academy and by far the best solution for schools that had aspirations to expand by adding other schools.”
“PS Financials’ package is tailored specifically for the education market and they have a proven track record as a market leader in this sector, so we felt a lot more confident about their ability to deliver.”
Ivybridge implemented PS Financials’ Accounting, Purchasing and Academy Reporting Pack. The Purchasing Module handles all purchase order processing, which is now operated online by budget holders instead of the Finance Department. The end result is greater efficiency – a large academy operating with only two members of finance staff. The online Budget Holder Report is especially useful because academies have to follow ‘Best Value’ principles in their expenditure of public money. Having so many processes automated means that they have very accurate information at their fingertips for reporting purposes
“It is very easy to integrate feeder schools and increase the value the software brings with little additional cost.” Finance Director, Ivybridge Community College
PS Financials took four days to install, in October 2010. PS Financials sells directly to the customer, and works with the customer to install the system and provide post-installation support. This approach makes a lot of sense for the customer, since they are talking directly to the people who created the software, with no middle-men.
The Finance Officer continues: “I’m so happy with the software. I help out at other schools and sit with them while they’re learning how to use it, it is very easy to understand.” “Word gets around fast when a product is good and suddenly everyone wants the software. PS Financials is an example of this. Once you find a product that works well, you stick with it.”
PS Financials has cut down the process time for requisitioning and purchasing, and increased the number of users who can order themselves without having to go through the Finance Department. Another benefit is that accounting staff can instantly check an order’s online status.
The key objective of the software is maximum ease of use and minimum data entry. When non-finance staff are using the system, ease of use is extremely important.
The Finance Officer estimates that this package will pay back the Return-On-Investment (ROI) in two years time, making it very cost effective.
In May 2011, Ivybridge incorporated a local “feeder” primary school with 133 children. This expansion has been completed without the need for any more finance staff. The Finance Officer comments: “It is very easy to integrate feeder schools and increase the value that the software brings with little additional cost.”
“PS Financials was the best solution for an academy and by far the best solution for schools that have aspirations to expand by adding other schools.” Finance Director, Ivybridge Community College