Ecclesiastical Insurance Group
Having forged an enviable reputation as a specialist provider of general insurance to independent schools, care homes, nursery schools, charities and churches in the UK, Ecclesiastical Insurance Group also offers a range of financial services and risk management solutions.
Ecclesiastical employs more than 1,000 staff world-wide. Headquartered in Gloucester, UK, it was rated as being in a position of ‘excellent’ financial strength by AM Best, a worldwide insurance rating and information agency.
The company is also responsible for pledging almost £55 million in charitable grants over the past 15 years. Ecclesiastical boasts seven regional underwriting centres across the UK, including those based in Birmingham, London and Manchester, with offices in Ireland, Canada and Australia.
Prior to implementing IRIS Financials’ accounting and business management system, Ecclesiastical utilised a software package developed by QSP Group, the former Newcastle-based vendor. The Head of Finance & Operations for Ecclesiastical explains how the demise of the QSP system prompted the insurer to accelerate the process of identifying a suitable replacement, which they had been using since 1989.
“We identified software packages from a variety of vendors in addition to IRIS Financials, including Navision (Microsoft), Coda Group and Sage. We narrowed down the selection to IRIS Financials and Coda Group, before settling on the former, mainly because of the inherent user-friendliness of the IRIS Financials software package.”
Gains with IRIS Financials
Since the launch of the IRIS Financials solution, Ecclesiastical’s Finance Department has achieved significant gains in terms of time and cost savings.
“IRIS Financials has streamlined all of our processes significantly. The software enables us to create in-depth reports of all our financial accountancy information and procedures quickly and accurately. The software recognises new information via data entry and updates the database in real-time, accordingly. This information can then be used to create very thorough financial reports.”
IRIS Financials readily accepted the challenge of tailoring the software package to meet the unique demands set down by Ecclesiastical’s Finance Department.
“IRIS Financials provided us with a customised solution, specifically suited to our business. As an insurer, we make a lot of one-off payments to single clients, and IRIS Financials provided us with software facilities to enable this. This capability was not originally available in the system, but IRIS Financials made it happen.”
The support Ecclesiastical has received from IRIS Financials in the period post-implementation is also acknowledged. “We have a very close working relationship with IRIS Financials. They have provided great support, which has shown through in terms of the technical guidance and training support we have received post-implementation.”
“A key reason we selected IRIS Financials’ software was its user-friendly look and feel,” explains the Head of Finance & Operations. “This has encouraged our budget holders to use the system en masse.”
“From a budget holder’s perspective, they are not required to know any codes to operate the system. The system allows us to set up security parameters, which restricts user access to critical information and also ensures simplified access for multiple users.”
“This is a major benefit the IRIS Financials system boasts over the previous QSP software, which required a raft of user codes to access information and was also Unix-based. This provided its own set of challenges compared to IRIS Financials’ simple Windows based interface.”
“The system also allows us to access profit and loss statistics online for each of our product lines, which we could not do before.”
“Our Gloucester-based group credit management team won ‘Credit Management Team of the Year’ and the statements produced from IRIS Financials were part of our winning submission.”
Ecclesiastical’s Head of Finance and Operations cites the software’s “intrinsic flexibility” and “ease of use” as two of its greatest qualities. She also praises its Web Portal-based ‘Self Service’ capability, which enables employees to view and input data in a format of their selection using IRIS Financials’ User Defined Input (UDI) capability.
Ecclesiastical primarily utilises this option for authorising orders within its UK network of offices.
With the company now successfully leveraging the capabilities of the IRIS Financials software in its UK and Ireland offices, and having recently launched the software in its Toronto, Canada, office, Ecclesiastical’s Finance Department is now well-placed to meet the company’s future finance accounting and business management demands.
“Our business is continually growing and evolving,” explains the Head of Finance & Operations. “The fact that the IRIS Financials accounting and business management solution streamlines our accounting processes, and that we have an excellent ‘business partner’ relationship, will help us to address any future challenges.”