Trust celebrates valuable time savings thanks to efficient financial software

Joining forces with IRIS back in 2020, and hiring their new Chief Financial Officer in 2022, Inspire Multi Academy Trust (INMAT) has digitised many of its processes, helping give its senior members of staff the time back to work on the things that matter.   

INMAT was created in 2017, initially with just 4 schools. Today, they are a trust of 11 academies that have joined together to harness the richness of diverse learning communities for the benefit of all pupils.

Since moving their financial management system from Sage to IRIS Financials, the trust have been saving days of time each month due to improved processes and simplified consolidation, making it a partnership made in finance heaven.

Taking time to save time

Becci Denbigh previously worked in various senior interim finance roles at a range of Multi Academy Trusts, before permanently joining INMAT in June 2022 as Chief Financial Officer. Over the last six months she has been optimising IRIS Financials to manage finances for the trust.


Becci told us, “IRIS Financials was implemented at INMAT before I joined, during the 2020 lockdown, which timed perfectly with everyone working from home and needing access to a Cloud based finance system. My focus since joining the Trust has been on restructuring the finance system and looking at how we can streamline our processes and save valuable time.”

The desire to save time is a common theme across MATs all over the UK and reliable software is a fantastic way to relieve that administration burden and let the team focus on the work that makes a difference. Becci says, “One of the main benefits of IRIS Financials is the ability to consolidate reports; there’s no manual struggle with management or strategic reports, the system allows you to consolidate in a matter of clicks. When you’re in a Trust with four or more schools, software like that is critical; without it you’d be spending hours and hours trying to pull reports together to make sense of the data.”

“The integration of the system with other modules such as Making Tax Digital  is another great time saver – it’s not something that all finance systems offer but it makes a big difference.”

Take your finance digital

Since Covid, many schools and Trusts have been forced to work more digitally which has required a tightening of processes and quicker turnaround times. “The flexibility of the system in terms of streamlining processes and the automation available is massive” says Becci. “Our entire purchasing cycle is now digital, all our requisitions are submitted electronically, our purchase orders are submitted and authorised via PS Purchasing, as is all supporting documentation. Timeliness of the order process is far improved and everything now goes out via document emailer which is great for tracking and has saved us a considerable amount of time.”

“We no longer have to file or print endless amounts of documents, representing real cost savings and also helping us reach our strategic aim of moving towards a more sustainable economic carbon footprint. When it comes to audit, we just give the auditors a read only login, and all the data they need is there. We’re Cloud hosted so in terms of data storage, that takes away another cost concern  for us.

“Non-order invoices have also been setup for electronic authorisation which means our Heads can now authorise everything via the finance system, wherever they might be based on that particular day. We work as a cluster type model, so where the system facilitates a flexible working model, that really benefits us!”

Going digital has allowed INMAT to become more eco-friendly, reducing the amount of paper they are using within the finance team and improving things from an audit point of view, not to mention the time savings.

A finance system anyone can use

One of the benefits of IRIS Financials for Becci and her team is that it is intuitive, meaning that non-finance staff are still able to navigate around it. “Most of the double-entry is taken care of within IRIS Financials, which not only offers reassurance and improves data entry speeds, but also means certain tasks can be undertaken by office staff, for example submitting order requisitions. I would say IRIS Financials is the most user-friendly financial management system I have used. The ability to flex the system to fit ongoing demands and to have total visibility centrally is just a massive bonus and aligns to our core values of being able to act on initiative to seek a better way to do things!”

Becci also previously worked as interim CFO at a newly formed trust of four schools who came together as she was appointed, using an alternative finance system to report across the MAT. She said, “Four schools is probably the maximum amount you could consolidate without IRIS Financials, any more would just take such a considerable amount of time.”

Staying compliant doesn’t have to cause a headache

Becci told us, “A key project for me since joining INMAT has been working on perfecting financial processes, controls and compliance. We now run the purchase order compliance report through IRIS Financials as one of our KPI’s, it takes us 2 seconds to run the report and makes it very easy to see the progress in our KPIs. That would have been a manual process previously, and an incredibly time-consuming task each month. We also use a report for purchase items without attachments, which allow us to keep an eye on our compliance ahead of those internal scrutiny visits!


The biggest benefit to the partnership between INMAT and IRIS Financials in the last six months has been the time savings. “One of the things we’re doing at the moment is moving to a single Trust bank account. Up until now we’ve been doing GAG recharges and reconciliations each month, which is a manual procedure each month., From February, when we have a single bank account, that will save me (as CFO) at least two days a month. I cannot wait for February as a result! Those are two days I really can’t wait to get back!

“That move from a system point of view has been really simple to do and the support from IRIS has been great. I know from experience other finance systems aren’t set up to be able to do that so easily. On top of that, we have a large number of suppliers who we will need to communicate the change to, but the system allows us to pull that supplier data into a report and communicate the change via mail merge. Again, it’s a task that could be incredibly time-consuming for me but will instead be made much easier, thanks to the software.”

Here at INMAT our mission is all about enabling great leaders to create great schools, where we always put children first, and I am confident IRIS financials gives me the best solution to manage our finances and ensure we are doing just that.

We’re thrilled to be supporting INMAT with our software and hearing what a difference it makes to their team. To find out more about how IRIS Financials could support your trust, please visit