Accrington & Rossendale College has streamlined its entire financial operation after recently going live with financial management system OpenAccounts, workflow solution eBIS, and document management software (powered by V1), from Advanced Business Solutions.
The college opted for a full upgrade from its previous finance system, which it had been using for several years, involving the complete migration of all data to OpenAccounts.
The college, which has around 5,500 full and part time students, selected OpenAccounts after evaluating a number of alternative systems. OpenAccounts was chosen because of its superior functionality and the sophisticated reporting it provides. Manually intensive reporting will be replaced by automated working processes.
Since implementing the software, finance department employees have been able to free up time to focus more on strategic activity. The second phase of the project, which includes extending the roll out of the software to senior staff, is due to be implemented in September.
Claire Jarvis, financial director at the college, said: "The new solution is all about faster and more flexible working. OpenAccounts will enable the automation of mundane tasks which will allow the whole finance team to be much more proactive.
"Senior accounts department staff will be able to take on greater responsibility for managing college finances. For instance, they will be involved in training curriculum staff and will be able to dedicate more time to controlling spend and managing the overall budget.
"The production of information will take less time, enabling other members of the finance team to do more valuable work in place of report production and inputting data from Excel.
"Using staff resources this way will save the college thousands of pounds. This is very important within the further education sector which, like all publicly funded organisations, needs to make economies. Funding is falling year-on-year, so all savings are highly important. This solution is about investing resources more wisely to get the best return."
The eBis solution will integrate with OpenAccounts and allow users to create and circulate electronic documents internally organisation-wide, and offers high levels of visibility for audit purposes.
Jarvis siad: "eBis will help us engage with staff across the college, and it will make their interaction with the finance department easier and more efficient. There will be opportunities for non-business support and curriculum staff to practise self-service reporting and for purchase orders to be processed electronically."
The college will also benefit from electronic document management technology (powered by V1), which it will use to manage around 6,000 invoices a year.
Jarvis added: "Previously we stored our documents in batches, so every time we wanted to see an invoice somebody had to go on the system to find the batch number, then physically locate the invoice, and if necessary, photocopy it. This new technology will save a great deal of time and means we can access invoices at the click of a mouse.
"The software also fits in well with our carbon management policy. We have already reduced our carbon footprint by introducing a virtual learning environment for students and utilising e-portfolios instead of paper. We are committed to reducing the use of paper wherever we can, and this software will help us to achieve our goal."
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