Djanogly Learning Trust
Giving Djanogly Academy data they can trust…in four weeks
Djanogly Learning Trust (DLT) is a successful, growing multi academy trust that sponsors eight schools in the East Midlands. They comprise one secondary and seven primary academies.p>
Head of Finance at DLT since 2018, Emma Goodwin has been an accountant for 20 years. Having experienced a wide range of finance and accounting systems during her career, she was quick to assess the system running at Djanogly.
Finance system challenges
DLT had become disenchanted with its previous finance software. There were many daily frustrations around how it operated.
"In the past, we had a separate database for each school. We'd have to log in, and out, of the different databases to sign things off. If a supplier chased an invoice, they had to know exactly which school it had been sent to," said Emma.
"The intention at the time, was to upgrade the existing system, but we remained unconvinced this would give us the flexibility and control we needed. We couldn't put an invoice on the system without a purchase order. Plus, if a purchase order hadn't been receipted, we couldn't put it on. Secondly, there was no nominal ledger transaction history or trial balance report. We realised that we needed a new finance and accounting system," she said.
The four-week transition
Emma explained how she decided on the right system for Djanogly.
"We spoke to three different software providers. Stuart and Liz from Hoge 100 came and did a presentation. Twice in fact, as they returned to meet my Chief Executive and one of our Executive Head teachers.
Liz is a trained accountant as well as a techie. That was (and is) a huge advantage to me. Her understanding of my needs is far better than other providers. I've lost count of the software companies I've asked if they've ever had an accountant look at how their product works. Many people selling finance software have no accountancy experience at all.
I really felt I'd get far better service from Hoge 100 and Dimensions for Academies."
"It was now July and I was keen to have a new system in place from September. In the presentation, Stuart had casually said: "If you press go on Monday, we could have you up and running by Friday!" So, I called him and said: "How about five weeks?""
Djanogly achieved their transition to Dimensions for Academies in four weeks, launching in September as planned. Emma explained they'd already done much of the pre-implementation work, given they were looking to upgrade initially.
Liz from Hoge 100 worked with Emma's team, helping with opening balances, supplier set ups and other aspects of the software. Emma wanted to do a clean cut-off. Liz therefore converted the historical data to an archive within Dimensions for Academies, meaning no licence was required for the old software. Everything was in one place.
The schools' reaction to the new software was positive: "Almost every school leader got it within half an hour. We showed them Finance Portal and how the reports worked. Many loved being able to see everything in one place," said Emma.
Now I can trust my data
Six months on, Emma took stock of her decision to invest in better software: "I can't even think how much time we've saved. It's not perfect yet, but we're definitely getting there. The simple fact that I can trust my data is enormous to me. What's going onto my system is in much better shape, and the potential to do more is there.
My purchase ledger people can now look at one supplier account instead of eight. I can see it all on screen with no need to export PDFs.
Finance Portal has one of the best search functions I've seen. So much so that, six months on, I don't know the nominal account numbers yet. Because I don't need them for search. And nor does an administrator in school wanting to put an order on for whiteboard markers. It's really so easy."
"Hoge is the best company I've ever interacted with, I couldn't be happier.
I've worked with software companies before where they insist on using a dashboard to log calls. With Hoge 100, if any of my team have an issue with something, they can pick up the phone or send an email. Eve, Sally, Nicki or Liz will get back to them and fix it. They all know what they're talking about. Brilliant."