The problem with modern MAT financial reporting – spreadsheets hold you back

Untitled design 69 | The problem with modern MAT financial reporting – spreadsheets hold you back
By Toby Lester | 12th June 2020 | 8 min read

It’s an age-old problem: you need to complete reports on time, every time for your multi-academy trust. However, with a dwindling pool of human resource, it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up with demand.

Without an accurate understanding of pupil numbers, subject results and overall financial data throughout the trust, it’s impossible to build out the funding cost and effectiveness per pupil. Without this information, your trust is flying blind. It would be difficult or impossible to allocate funding.

You then have to send this information out to all your key stakeholders and ensure they’ve read and understood it.

Simply put, multi-academy trust finance is a huge undertaking. Many busy financial administrators find themselves juggling dozens of systems just to get the job done.

This eats into time that could be better served working on overall financial strategy. As we ease out of the Covid-19 crisis, this strategic planning time will be more important than ever before.

Ultimately, this issue is entirely caused by a single age-old system that many MATs are still using to this day.

The elephant in the room

Spreadsheet software is often thought of as the accountant’s best friend. However, it could be holding your MAT back.

Why, then, do we continue to rely on them? Spreadsheet functionality has improved hugely over the years. Sadly, however, they continue struggle to cope with modern MAT reporting requirements.

Ultimately, spreadsheet software is designed for a huge number of use cases and isn’t specific to a trust’s unique needs. You have to build out education-specific reports manually with static data. The reports you build will then become obsolete within weeks or even days as your MAT’s situation changes.

Sending out your reports means attaching your spreadsheet to a dozen separate emails and hoping you didn’t accidentally send last month’s reports by mistake.

Sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be this way.

The solution – it couldn’t be easier

Collaboration has never been so important – and yet, with all the tools we use, it gets pushed to the wayside. However, there is a new collaborative financial reporting software on the market which trusts are turning to during the Covid-19 crisis that covers every weak point of spreadsheet software.

With IRIS Analytics, you can collaborate on reports across the trust in a more streamlined way. It pulls in live financial data from IRIS Financials, transforming a lengthy days-long process into one that takes hours.

As it’s cloud-based, everybody in your team can work together to build out the reports you need. It still looks like your spreadsheet software, so it’s easy to understand. You can even build out a report with all the information you need and then refresh it whenever you want live, up-to-date information, so you don’t have to build out the same reports every month.

With the new chartered set of accounts on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to consider moving to IRIS Analytics and IRIS Financials – we’re dedicated to keeping our systems up to speed with the latest charts of accounts, so you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

There’s even a government funding pot that you can turn to if you’re interested in getting started with IRIS Analytics. TCaF funding is open to MATs that are looking to improve their infrastructure across the trust, and it’s open for submission now – find out more in this article.

The best way to get started with IRIS Analytics is to contact us directly. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’d love to help set up a reporting system for your MAT.