MAT Centralisation under the spotlight
Firstly, centralisation in the news! A recent article in Education Uncovered reports:
Reinstate powers for individual school governing bodies, urges National Education Union (NEU) with central charges of a large MAT still under spotlight"The Government is being urged by England’s largest teachers’ union to boost the powers of school governing bodies, after this website exposed the case of academies having no choice but to make multi-million pound covert payments to the head office of a major chain. Ministers need to explore reinstating the rights of “schools, governing bodies and their stakeholders, including parents” against allegedly over-powerful trust headquarters, the National Education Union is arguing in a letter sent to Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, and two cross-party Parliamentary committees. Williamson has also been asked to explain what action individual schools and communities can take if they find themselves unhappy with the decision by a central trust to raise the amount it charges them for services, with the current structure seeming to offer no possible levers against such decision-making by boards...”
Centralisation and budgeting software - SBS' insight
SBS' experience with MAT operations has delivered some findings which you may find useful.
The chicken or the egg?
It is important that your vision and operating model is not confined, restricted, or determined by your software. Find a solution that doesn't champion or favour a specific MAT operating model, as we firmly believe that the operating model of any MAT is the product of a defined vision. Your vision should be accommodated, not compromised due to the shortcomings of your budgeting software.
Reporting up line?
Ensure that that your weekly, monthly and yearly budgeting reports and data can be run in a variety of formats e.g. by school, cluster group or MAT. This will cater for scenario discussions in SLT and governor meetings to get the best outcomes from your resources.
Who knows you best?
Individual schools can maintain their autonomy within a MAT by setting their own budgets, making the most of the intelligence at school level. Find a solution that enables budgets to be built based on the individual characteristics of that school, whilst contributing to the overall MAT budget.
Somewhere, beyond the .CSV...
Systems 'talking' to eachother, 'seamless synchronisation' or 'TRUE integration' as we like to call it. Growing Trust teams can save considerable time and ensure accuracy through strategic use of integrated software packages that share data at the touch of a button, rather than through endless .CSV file exports. Bid farewell to dual entry!
It all adds up!
When budgeting, always look for opportunities to save time on cyclical processes for the staff across your MAT. 30 mins, half a day, a week? See what staff could do with the time saved! Challenge your software suppliers to help you. If payroll reconciliation is a time thief there is software that can reduce significant time. Monitoring salaries with a spreadsheet can take two staff members up to three days a month to complete, but with the right software payroll checks can be reduced to just an hour by only one staff member. Payroll reconciliation can also offer additional features, such as linking back to your forecast and enables detailed analysis with the ability to add notes/carry forward errors.
Handing out the keys
Whilst an exciting move from a budgeting spreadsheet to a browser-based software will open doors for staff at school and MAT level to manage budgets remotely, you still want to be sure that security, data integrity and staff accountability are guaranteed. This is why 2-factor authentication and tracking tools should be on your must-haves list, if they aren't already.
Related SBS services for MATs
Why not try these proven solutions to make your MAT operations a doddle!
- SBS Budgets caters for both individual academy and central MAT budget management - Book a demo >
- SBS Audits works with SBS Budgets to track all changes (why, by who and when?) across your MAT - Find out more >
- SBS Sync enables SBS Budgets to integrate with the leading Finance and MIS systems - Find out more >
- Get your MAT internal scrutiny in hand - Find out more >
- Day-to-day finance processing and payroll reconciliation for any MAT structure - See our managed service >