All of their schools are run independently but share the same values: to provide an educational environment that excites and engages students, and instils a lifelong love of learning.
A tailored, cloud-based accountancy system
When International Schools group Bellevue Education chose to implement iSAMS’ Management Information System (MIS), Finance and Operations Director Tim Carey-Yard took the opportunity to renew their accounting system too, hoping to find a cloud-based accounting solution which would integrate with iSAMS.
Bellevue investigated integrating with Sage but felt it didn’t cater for their needs at a group level. Having evaluated many cloud accounting products, they chose iSAMS’ iFinance; an affordable cloud accounting solution which could be tailored to their needs and meet the complex reporting requirements of the group.
The systems we evaluated which were genuinely web-based, seemed to be created for small enterprises. We wanted a system which could be adapted to our international group needs. iFinance suited us better than Xero, QuickBooks Online and SAP and so we began the simple process of integrating iFinance with iSAMS.
The systems were fully-integrated and installed shortly after contracts were signed. The advantage of the integrated application is that iSAMS automatically updates all fee payer and student information in the iFinance Sales Ledger, ensuring all data in the two systems is aligned, avoiding any duplication of data entry.
Meanwhile, the Fee Billing module in iSAMS generates all the invoices for students (with an ability to have multiple fee payers for individual students or multiple students for multiple fee payers) and passes the invoices automatically via an API link to the accounting system. The iFinance accounting platform then takes control of the process and updates the balances as fees are paid, partially or in full.
The integration of iFinance with iSAMS’ core MIS gives us a much slicker process than we had for billing and the fee run is so much easier. It cuts down our processing time enormously.
International Group Reporting
Headquartered in Hampton Court in England, the group has 12 Independent Schools across the UK as well as schools in Switzerland and Qatar, which means the finance team needs to account for income and payments in multiple currencies as well as produce consolidated group accounts.
As well as a suite of 250 pre-built reports, iFinance can be customised to create tailored reports. Bellevue created their own management reports in MS Excel which can be automatically updated from the iFinance database via an “add-in” link.
Unlike other applications which encourage the exclusive use of in-built Business Intelligence tools, iFinance also gives users the option to plug in existing reports modelled in Excel. This allows businesses like Bellevue to focus on becoming familiar with the software without the worry of recreating reporting packs in the early stages.
iFinance’s Excel Add-In gives us continuity in our management reporting while we are still learning how to get the most out of the system. It maps live and accurate data from iFinance to my existing management reports.
Exploring some of the automated features within iFinance, Group Management Accountant Rosie Bridgman describes how the system has made her working processes easier, “Day-to-day reports for sending out invoices are done in the click of a button rather than us having to find the document, scan it, attach it and email it.”
“The email features are great and we can send emails centrally from any school. The ability to attach documents to processes saves so much time not just day-to-day but also when we prepare for audit. Other processes are also much smoother such as bank reconciliation.”
The real benefit iFinance brings is the time we save every day on tedious and time-consuming tasks. So much of it is automated in the system.
Now that the system is successfully installed, the next phase of the project will include exploring iFinance’s multi-company functionality further, such as customising dashboards and creating live dashboard reports which consolidate accounts.