Wakefield College

Greatly improved financial management across 3 campuses for Wakefield College

Wakefield College has provided further education to Wakefield and surrounding areas since 1686. Today, the college operates three different campuses across West Yorkshire, with over 10,000 students! Such a vast operation requires a powerful, integrated financial management system to support its’ staff, students and educational objectives. We spoke with Julian Andrews, Finance Manager for the college, to find out why they chose IRIS Financials.

The college had been using the same out-dated accounting system for 17 years before switching to IRIS Financials. Whilst the system did the basics, the reporting suite required a huge number of man hours to transpose and format the figures for maintaining the college’s financial records; for each report, the team needed to extract and verify data from numerous spread sheets, taking up not just hours but days of staff time – time that would be better invested in other areas!

“Moving forward we recognised that the department needed to automate processes,” said Julian. “And to do so, we required a comprehensive financial management solution for our college.”

The Finance team soon realised that IRIS Financials offered the best solution to support the college in achieving their goals.

“IRIS' flexibility was a huge hit! The team were able to utilise their unified ledger model, pull in data across the college and effectively analyse and report on KPI’s from one data source. Not only that, but we felt that we could work alongside IRIS to set up a comprehensive system and have our voices heard on future development specific to the FE Market.”

Implementing a new financial system can appear to be a complicated and time-consuming task. However, with IRIS Financials, the implementation process is straightforward.

“Our Project Manager and Lead Consultant were, and still are, fantastic!” Said Julian. “They understood our college, our situation and where we wanted to be as a finance function. The IRIS team worked closely with our IT and Business Managers to establish links between our different systems so that supplier information, student records and other details are integrated into IRIS.”

“The projects team had the expertise, responsiveness and can-do approach to make the implementation process and transition to a new system as smooth as possible.”

Once the system was up and running, staff were eager to make the most of the many features available!

“After 17 years of using the same system, you would have thought that the transition to a new system would be a daunting experience with its fair share of struggles; however, that was not the case with IRIS. The feedback from the users was that it was easy to pick up and navigate around because of its Windows interface. The income team were quick to sing the praises of the system, especially the credit control module.”

An integral part of the college’s plans is to use data from across the college to drive better decision-making in areas such as courses, staff, purchasing, and departmental budgets.

“IRIS have already helped with this! The system stores all of our data within a central unified ledger system, giving us the ability to drill down, analyse and report on real-time data without sieving through multiple spreadsheets and systems.”

Another objective for the college was to empower budget holders by providing access to all the information needed to make important, timely decisions.

“With our old system, we were finding that the department spent a lot of time answering queries for budget holders. IRIS Financials allows budget holders to access and drill down their own budgets with real time accuracy, immediately reducing the number of queries coming into the finance team.”

The team are also benefiting from a paperless purchasing system, reducing time spent managing paper purchase orders. The IRIS Financials system allows key stakeholders to submit digital POs through the system, leaving the Finance team to simply verify and approve them as they arrive – a smooth, robust process.

“I would absolutely recommend IRIS to other colleges and FE’s. I have been very impressed with the implementation and the support we have received. The system is a great fit for colleges; we have found it to be very user-friendly, flexible and fully equipped to provide the detailed analytics a college requires!” says Julian.

If you’d like to see how IRIS Financials can help your school or multi-academy trust, contact us today.