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New efficient and cost saving technology for the education sector

Will Jordan, Education Sector Manager at PS Financials, discusses how MATs can use technology to meet their HR and financial needs

Posted by Lucinda Reid | December 18, 2016 | Technology

The education sector has experienced huge change and evolution over the past three years. This has been driven by the expansion of multi-academy trusts (MATs) to achieve full academisation, which has rendered school-focused systems ineffective and unable to fulfill the requirements of the MAT. Couple this with having to operate in a climate of flat-lining funding and rising costs, means that education sector organisations, urgently require new solutions.

Historically, schools have used separate systems to maintain staffing databases, often holding limited details of staff data, such as absences and contract items. These systems have inconsistent structures, making moving data - from one system to another - a struggle as it needs to be re-inputted many times, which creates errors and consumes precious resources.

In a recent survey, we discovered that schools store and analyse data across an average of 14 different systems. Once schools join MATs, the issue is compounded as different schools use different systems to hold the same information. Given the pace of change over the past few years, it’s no surprise that systems that were once sufficient for schools have not kept up with the changing education environment.

This has meant that MATs are running blind with their staffing position, and by inheriting disparate systems, they are unable to establish a trust-wide HR strategy or ensure compliance at an operational level. Clearly, integrating disparate back office systems is crucial to driving academies and MATs forward.

Our new education back office management system - PS Budgeting and PS People - combined with our finance system, has been created to help improve the financial health and efficiency of academies and MATs. This software suite helps them manage budget planning, HR and payroll functions – and delivers greater operational insight, efficiencies and cost savings. This means that education organisations can survive in a climate of real term funding cuts, compounded by evolving business models, resulting from the emergence of the MAT programme. 

PS Budgeting provides MATs with consistent, school-based scenarios that once consolidated, enable them to be confident with the accuracy of their forecasts over the short to medium term. This empowers them with a strategic, future view so they can forward plan and make informed, cost conscious, decisions. By integrating with PSF’s core accounting, purchasing and reporting software, it provides MATs with a consistent application suite that removes duplication of effort and costly input errors.   

PS People provide HR and payroll functions that are now a necessity within the fast growing MAT environment. PS People enforces consistency of approach and automated workflows covering all aspects of HR including; recruitment, payroll, talent & performance management, learning & development,so they operate consistently and efficiently. PS People will provide insight into employees, which has been historically challenging, and help senior stakeholders control three to five year budgets. Having this capability is critical in the management of a MAT, as staff costs represent circa 80% of the total budget.

PS Budgeting and PS People are being piloted and integrate into PSF’s core  financial management software that is currently used by over 2,500 UK education establishments – accounting for 43% of all the UK’s academies and 57% of MATs. Ultimately, this will help them streamline processes, have control over staffing policies, so they can anticipate short, medium and long-term changes and follow strategic goals within their budgets.

For more information about these services, visit the PS Financials website.

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