EduFin strengthens Hamwic Trust’s accounting software to aid rapid growth

With the new academic year in sight, The Hamwic Trust was fast-approaching an internal deadline to rebuild its data management software and lay the groundwork for future growth. The umbrella trust provides managed services including finance to three multi-academy trusts, based in Southampton and Portsmouth, and their schools: The Jefferys Education Trust (which runs seven academies), The Edwin Jones Trust (four) and the newly created Ridings Trust with one school.

As the number of Hamwic’s schools increased, its existing finance system structure was unable to meet the demands of the organisation, leaving the consolidation of accounts at all levels increasingly complex. It was time for a more robust, scalable solution that could streamline the finance system and evolve to meet Hamwic’s current and planned expansion needs.

Modifying and merging data would be crucial to allowing Hamwic to produce bespoke reporting, Key Performance Indicators and tailored management information from a stable system with the legs to keep pace with a burgeoning organisation.

To avoid disruption across its academies – and to ensure that each would be operational at summer’s end – Hamwic deemed it vitally important to turn accounting oddities into efficiencies by merging the databases within the Summer holiday season.

That work would enable the umbrella trust, the multi-academy trusts – and the schools within – to use one reporting model. This would, for example, prevent the need to create multiple queries to discover how much each school has spent on books or supply teaching.

Sound of theory, the predicament came in practice. Although both databases used a leading accounting management software package, they had been designed differently, leaving the work ahead complex.

“Hamwic sourced various options. One was 75% cheaper and agreed to do the work within desired timescales. Price was a big factor, but EduFin were also very accessible”
— Sean Preston, Trust Finance Manager

Without the required expertise in-house, Sean Preston, Trust Finance Manager at Hamwic, sourced various options. One was 75% cheaper than the nearest alternative and agreed to do the work within desired timescales. Enter EduFin, a one-stop shop that allows academies to access the tools required to create accurate and cohesive monthly accounts and controls.

“As experts in the relevant management software, EduFin were not only able to re-engineer and refine our system, but did so ten days ahead of schedule,” says Sean. “Price was a big factor, but EduFin were also very accessible.

“Whenever we had any queries the team responded almost instantaneously and were honest if they thought we should look into something more deeply. We foresee a long-term, strategic partnership.”

EduFin talked Hamwic through different options and adapted to their needs. “At times, we asked them to change part of the restructured system and they responded to our needs,” adds Sean. “They also challenged us by helpfully suggesting ways we could do things differently.”

Such planning resulted in a more superior, scalable structure that supports Hamwic’s ambition for future growth. “As an umbrella trust taking on more schools, we needed to refine our database to give us a more robust system ready for future growth and development,” says Jai Solanki, the trust’s IT manager.

To that end, Hamwic has already included one new school on behalf of Jefferys Education Trust. Rather than embark on a drawn-out process of creating an entire database, the new structure enables the trust to add schools more efficiently.

“EduFin has cleaned up and simplified the whole system, avoiding the potential for confusion,” Jai adds. “Security accesses were streamlined, the system is much easier to work with and so allows me to easily troubleshoot user queries.

“Edufin’s service was excellent,” he adds. “They built a system that tied in with our vision. They also provided bespoke management and budgeting tools to cater for our needs.”

The trust bought an adapted version of EduFin’s own Focus-XL software package that touches the parts Hamwic’s old system didn’t reach. “They managed to fit our requirements into their custom-made management and budgeting tools, giving us exactly what we wanted,” says Sean.

By choosing EduFin, Hamwic now has a strategic partner whose work has enabled the development of a bespoke, scalable and evolving system with improved efficiencies that will presage significant savings.

“Having a single database has added financial and staff value in the processing of information” adds Sean. “The work done by EduFin will pay dividends in short amount of time.”