The King's School chose a finance system to support its devolved culture of financial responsibility

After School Club

The King's School is a secondary school and sixth form located in Ottery St Mary, Devon. It became an academy in 2011.

The school was looking for an accounting package that would enhance its pre-existing culture of disseminated financial responsibility.

We spoke to the Business Manager about his experience of setting up Dimensions for Academies.

Choosing and accounting package

Choosing an accounting package is not an easy decision to make, particularly when you've created a culture whereby different parts of the school have responsibility for their own accounts. "My challenge was not to erode that cultural change we'd created. So, it was about identifying a system that enhanced that culture in the school. It wasn't just the mechanistic elements of the system but the impact on maintaining that culture we'd created." Says Laurence Evans, Business Manager of The King's school.

There's usually a trigger that determines when a new financial system is needed, a situation whereby the present system can no longer be sustained and doesn't work effectively. "At the time the reporting of our old system was not up to scratch. I was not able to look at it and gain a quick understanding of the school's financial position. I needed to be able to interact with the data in a meaningful way."

How difficult was it to find a system that would work for the school's existing culture? "We considered a number of options but the reason we chose Hoge was that they had a portal system to maintain the financial management culture in the school. That was key for us."

"The hardest thing about choosing a financial package is in getting an understanding of its functionality…It's the added extras that are needed and make the difference. This was the challenge for us."

Support is essential

When it comes to an accounting package, support, both during the initial set up and training as well as ongoing support, is essential for getting the most benefit from it.

What are The King's School's thoughts on the support they received for Dimensions for Academies? "We needed a certain level of support which we didn't receive with the previous providers. Hoge's USP was the support they offered. Also, it was important that it was a global product. We wanted something that was not niche. Our previous one gave us little support due to it being a niche product; we needed something more widely available."

"We did the original migration on the 1st of September and it was very straightforward. We had lots of help from Liz. In detail. Lots of training. And since then we've had ongoing support with the reports when we've come across a few issues. They are particularly supportive when we have changeovers of staff. With new members coming in they helped us get them all up to speed with the system."

Laurence highlights the features that interested King's School

"The web-based Finance Portal that Hoge adds on was the most significant factor. The reporting capabilities; the at-a-glance income/expenditure and balance sheet were very easy to use. Its link with Excel and its ability to manipulate the data was important."

There's little point in installing a new finance system if there isn't some improvement in efficiencies and ease of use. So how has Dimensions for Academies been beneficial in that way? "The support and training we've received has helped us become more efficient at carrying out financial functions. We're still on that journey but the Dimensions system has helped. And it has helped us to maintain that culture of financial responsibility across the school."

Finance Portal

Any advice to offer others considering Dimensions for Academies?

"Make sure when you're thinking about your finance system that you are buying a package that suits your organisational culture and capability. Know your organisation and what will work for it."

"The web-based Finance Portal that Hoge adds on was the most significant factor. The reporting capabilities; the at-a-glance income/expenditure and balance sheet were very easy to use. Its link with Excel and its ability to manipulate the data was important."