As your MAT continues to grow, it becomes more and more important to find a finance system that grows alongside it. Outdated legacy systems not only frustrate your team and drain your resources, but can also actually hinder growth. That’s why choosing a system well suited to the needs of your growing MAT is vital. With this being said, with advances in accounting solutions and more and more software providers entering the education sector, it’s easy to get lost in a world of competing finance systems and countless new features.
Choosing a new finance system doesn’t have to be stressful or confusing if you know what features to look for to support your growth. To help make this process as simple and straight-forward as possible, we’ve compiled a list of four green flags you should be looking for when comparing different finance systems.
ADD NEW SCHOOLS IN SECONDS
One of the most important green flags to look for in your search for the perfect new finance system is the ability to add new schools to your accounts in seconds. This is particularly important for any MATs attempting to scale in 2023. With growth comes the addition of new schools and with that comes countless hours of admin — not to mention thousands of pounds in implementation fees to contractors to get them set up financially. This is where investing in a more comprehensive finance system can save your institution a lot of time and money.
Modern accounting solutions such as Sage Intacct for Education will arm your finance team with the tools they need to add new schools in just a matter of seconds and eliminate the need to pay a company to implement this for you, generating big savings and bigger growth potential. While high-end accounting systems like this might not be necessary for small scale MATs, for large or midsize education providers hoping to find long-term value in their accounting solutions, choosing a system that allows you to add new schools quickly is an investment that will save resources, boost efficiency, and set your team and institution up to scale successfully.
ADVANCED AUTOMATION FEATURES
When researching a new finance system, always look for value for money when it comes to automation features. Most modern accounting software provide some level of automation tools, but the key is finding one that is best suited to your financial needs and future plans.
More cost-effective software providers offer basic automation tools which might suffice for small scale MATs with limited budgets, but may prove insufficient for larger MATs hoping to scale. If growth is the goal, spending more money on an accounting system that offers comprehensive automation tools is a worthwhile investment that boosts productivity, reduces admin costs and human errors, and streamlines your financial systems for success. For example, Sage Intacct for Education’s robust catalogue of tools allows education providers to automate almost every process, from AP workflows to Billing and Revenue recognition. With advanced automation MATs can boost the productivity of their finance teams by 40% or more and make huge savings by eliminating the cost of recruiting and hiring more staff.
TRUE CLOUD-BASED ACCOUNTING
After decades of using on-premise legacy accounting software, a cloud-based system is one of the first green flags to look for when upgrading your finance system. Finding a system with cloud-based infrastructure that offers remote access to your financial data at any time and from anywhere in the world sounds like it should be easy and straight-forward, but the truth is many software providers claim to be cloud-based without actually meeting the true requirements. The name Sage 50 Cloud for example suggests it runs on cloud-based infrastructure, when actually it does not store all data in the cloud and still requires businesses to run centralised systems to store data.
With accounting software that operates on true cloud-based infrastructure, all data is securely stored in the cloud and doesn’t require organisations to run applications on their own servers. Investing in a true cloud-based product will set your MAT up for success by removing the need to maintain on-premise servers, providing real-time data insights accessible at all times and from anywhere, and boost your team’s flexibility and functionality by giving them the remote user-access crucial for efficiency in a post-pandemic climate.
When it comes to growing your MAT, real-time data is a game changer in so many areas of your finance function. From comparing budgets with actuals to multi-dimensional reporting, real-time insights provide the deeper level of data and analytics needed to propel growth. Accounting solutions designed for small businesses, such as QuicBooks or Xero, offer the bookkeeping tools needed for small businesses, but for an MAT growing in size, a more comprehensive system equipped with real-time capabilities will help relieve some of the growing pains that come with increasing in both size and complexity.
Sage Intacct for Education is a great example of a finance system purposefully designed with advanced real-time capabilities for growing MATs. With its true cloud-based infrastructure, accounts remain accurate and updated at all times meaning education providers can see exactly where their financial health stands at any moment in time and up-to-date reports can be compiled with just the click of a button. Not only can this shorten the monthly close by up to 79%, all schools are managed by a central database meaning accounts can be consolidated in real time. Armed with real-time insights, your team will have the analytics needed to make better data-driven decisions — a huge green flag for any MAT looking for a system that grows with them, not against them.
There are many things to consider when it comes to choosing a new finance system. While price-point is always a major consideration, it’s also crucial to find an accounting solution that is well-suited to the needs and goals of your MAT. For small scale MATs with 5 or less schools, more cost-effective options with basic book-keeping tools might be suitable, but when it comes to institutions hoping to grow in size, a more robust set of accounting tools is going to provide better value for money in the long-run and set your team up for a successful year of growth. For MATs continuing to scale, four major green flags to look for in a new finance system include: the ability to add new schools in seconds, advanced automation tools, true-cloud based accounting, and real-time data and accounting features. Modern accounting systems like Sage Intacct for Education that offer are the perfect fit for savvy CFOs who are ready to invest in their MATs future and accelerate growth.