The ICT Service is Cambridgeshire County Council’s ICT Advisory Service for over 250 schools and academies. “With nearly 80,000 students and thousands of staff in schools and academies, the financial management processes in Cambridgeshire can be complex,” says Kath Ryans, Schools Programme Development Consultant at The ICT Service. “In particular, the rising number of academies has brought increased reporting requirements, putting extra time pressures, and increased storage required for audit purposes, on business managers.” SIMS FMS helps manage all aspects of school and academy finances electronically.
Alison Day, Bursar at Bury Primary School, says: “We have always used SIMS FMS, but since our conversion, our use has evolved to support our new academy status. To meet our target of being paperless by 2014, we scan all our documents and store them electronically; attaching them as supporting documents to the invoice. It’s an organised process which works very well.”
Kath Ryans is pleased with the positive response of the schools in adopting this completely fresh approach. “We started a pilot with five schools – since then over sixty have approached us to join the scheme. It’s such an intuitive system that schools can adapt quickly to using it. The feedback we’re getting is that it makes them more efficient.” This mirrors Alison’s experience: “In addition to direct cost savings - approximately £200 per school on stamps, paper and envelopes alone - there are major efficiencies in finance administration. 85% per cent of all payments are now processed through BACS directly from SIMS FMS.”
Jane Pettitt, Finance Manager of Upwood Primary School, agrees: “As part of my role I’m constantly looking at ways of making financial efficiencies for the school. Working closely with Alison from Bury and Kath at ICT, we have developed, and will continue to review, the process now being rolled out to schools. This has given us a great deal of satisfaction.” Kath adds, “The efficiencies for relatively small schools are still significant, so you can imagine how quickly the savings across all the schools in Cambridgeshire add up. Paperless is the way forward –everything is stored with our Central Hosting which gives staff anytime, anywhere access. The full financial picture is to hand at a moment’s notice. It saves time, money and makes us more efficient, so we can concentrate on providing the best business practice.”
Read the full Cambridgeshire case study