Are your financial systems frustrating your team, draining your resources, and taking up hours of precious time? With ever-growing to-do lists, audits, and reports to get through, it can seem like there’s never a good time for your busy finance team to upheave their systems and start afresh. But, with a new academic year in full swing and advanced accounting technology changing the game for financial officers completely, there’s never been a better time for education providers to upgrade their systems and finally tackle the issues that have been frustrating their teams year after year.
Optimising your MAT’s financial systems has a whole host of benefits, from improving morale to cutting costs, and ensuring future growth. Here’s the top 5 reasons why it’s time to finally address your finance system frustrations this academic year:
- Happy systems = happy staff
More than 1 in 5 finance leaders say their systems are out of date. While these outdated systems may have been the perfect fit at the time, as teams grow, staff members change, and demands for compliance and efficiency increase, outdated systems could be one of the biggest factors leading to low levels of job satisfaction and staff retention. With the education sector continuing to face a financial skill shortage crisis and finding it increasingly difficult to recruit new team members, keeping your financial staff happy is a crucial component in keeping costs down, driving growth, and allowing you to focus on your mission.
In order for your team, your systems, and your finances to function and grow, it’s important to identify areas that could be streamlined and optimised to relieve your team of stressful time-consuming tasks and allow them to focus on higher level strategy. A great example of this would be removing manual data entry tasks such as purchasing workflows. For many financial officers manual data entry can be tedious, time-consuming, and frustrating. Streamlining these processes can be as simple as investing in accounting technology that automates manual data entry tasks. For example, cloud-based accounting software provider Sage Intacct for Education reports that automating manual processes can increase efficiency up to 90%. Replacing manual processes with automation technology removes the drain on resources and helps to cultivate a seamless optimised workflow for a happier financial team, faster growth, and lower staff retention costs.
- Non compliance can be costly
An unhappy financial team is not the only thing that will cost your institution time and money. Falling behind on compliance can end up being extremely costly to your MAT in the long run, and with the need for compliance and accuracy greater than ever, non compliance risks and weak audit trails are issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. In order to boost accuracy and ensure a full and deep audit trail, your financial team must be armed with intuitive and accurate accounting systems. Unfortunately over half of finance leaders believe their accounting systems are not as intuitive as they need them to be, which can lead to mistakes, increased costs, and increased frustration levels. For this reason, tackling the failures of your current systems with intuitive accounting software is a short-term investment with long-term payoff.
A prime example of this is the fact that manual processes and excel spreadsheets have become inconvenient and prone to error. Tasks like moving data from one sheet to another, calculations with complicated formulas, and tracking expenses and revenues becoming more complex as your institution grows are all prone to human error mistakes like duplicate entries and mistypes. Fortunately, by digitising these processes with innovative accounting software, they can be easily avoided and save your team countless hours of manual work and spreadsheet nightmares, in addition to reducing the long-term cost of noncompliance.
- Simple reporting isn’t enough to drive growth
As the education sector advances and your MAT continues to grow and face more complex challenges, your reporting systems must continue to grow alongside them. With hectic schedules and high work loads, often institutions can go months and even years without updating their reporting systems. This can mean that crucial data that once may not have been relevant, is now missing, and opportunities for growth are lost alongside it. If your current financial reporting system was designed for the needs of a small MAT, it may lack the ability to manage the new sophisticated processes of your growing institution. If your current system isn’t serving your MAT’s needs well enough, upgrading your reporting systems with accounting software that features real-time data insights is a worthwhile investment.
Real-time data and analytics will transform your reporting capabilities by ensuring that your data remains accurate and up-to-date at all times. For example, with Sage Intacct for Education, up-to-date reports can be compiled within minutes at just the click of a button. Not only does this allow you to gain instant visibility into where your finances stand at that very moment, you can compare budgets to actuals and have accurate, audit-ready reports at your fingertips in just a fraction of the time it would have taken your team to source and compile the data needed. By addressing the gaps in your reporting systems now, you can empower your team with the numbers they need at any given time, and arm your institution with the in-depth data and insights required to identify risks earlier and maximise opportunities for growth.
- Visibility is crucial
There’s nothing more frustrating to team members than not having access to the right numbers. Visibility and presenting the right information at the right time and to the right people is crucial in creating efficient workflows. A simple roadblock like not being able to see the right metrics runs the risk of both decreasing productivity and stressing out your team members who could be focusing on purpose-driven work rather than chasing after documents and data from different departments. In order to cultivate an optimised and stress-free work environment, it’s vital to address system frustrations like this now instead of later down the line, when your team continues to grow.
A good way to tackle this common frustration is by updating your current systems to a centralised interface with financial dashboards. With centralised financial dashboards, your team members can easily access the numbers they need and eliminate the persistent hunt for scattered or disorganised documents and spreadsheets. Dashboards provide a secure view of the metrics needed and can even be displayed in user-friendly graphs and charts. Modern accounting software is also highly customisable meaning personalised dashboards can be created for individuals or teams, boosting visibility by ensuring that they have access to just the data that they need in order to work efficiently. Empowering your team with this information at a glance allows you to arm the right people with the numbers that matter whenever they need them.
- You risk falling behind
Every CFO wants their organisation to thrive and succeed, and while upgrading your financial systems and eliminating roadblocks might seem daunting, continuing to avoid dealing with these issues will leave you at a higher risk of falling behind in the boardroom. Allowing outdated processes to continue into this academic year not only puts you a step behind the rest before school has even started, it can also hinder growth. Low staff morale, frustrated team members leaving, rising costs, and poor compliance all contribute to the risk of your MAT simply being left behind unless these issues are addressed now. Equally, as your institution continues to grow, it’s likely that these unaddressed system frustrations will grow with it and become more and more unmanageable.
Luckily, the advances in accounting software mean that there really is no need for any institution to get left in the dust. With cloud-based technology, integrating new systems purpose-built with usability in mind, transitioning to modern financial software can be both seamless and stress-free. As technology has progressed, accounting software is now more customisable than ever before, allowing you to create an optimised system purpose-built to suit the individual needs of your MAT. This means that not only will you be armed with the comprehensive tools needed to finally address your finance function frustrations, you will also be able to create an intuitive custom-built finance system that grows alongside your institution, not against it.
A finance system that frustrates your staff and drains resources can cost you everything from time, money, and happiness. It’s crucial to address these issues now in order to prevent these challenges from growing alongside your institution, becoming more and more unmanageable. Smart CFOs are addressing these frustrations with modern accounting software solutions that ensure their MAT never falls behind and has all the tools it needs to make the numbers really shine.