Does your finance system fit your school?

Julie Booth, head of SIMS Independent, explains why flexibility is vital when choosing the right financial management system for your school

From the smallest prep school to the highest profile institution, every school is different. As a bursar, you want to be able to tailor technology to meet your school’s financial demands – not the other way round.

Like any business, schools want to manage their finances efficiently and effectively and ensure strong foundations are in place for future success. Whether you want a reliable, straightforward solution or one that can be adapted as things change, there is no ‘one size fits all’ in education.

But finding the financial management system that is right for your school needn’t be a challenge, as one school that has some unusual requirements recently discovered.

Tailor your system, not your school

Founded in 1442, the City of London School was created by an act of Parliament and is owned by the City of London Corporation. The school generates an annual income from fees of around £13 million. It offers around 250 scholarships and 100 bursaries, which are paid in part or in full by different organisations and benefactors.

Director of Finance Phillip Everett needed a comprehensive solution that would meet the school’s specific needs. As he explains: “Payments are generated from a wide range of sources. Parents and other family members such as grandparents might pay some or all of the fees for a pupil, and in a number of cases, parents’ companies make a contribution towards the fees.

“We needed something that would manage the complex fee arrangements but also link back to the Corporation’s system and update that efficiently. When we looked at some of the fee packages on the market, many weren’t sophisticated enough to deal with this. We chose the SIMS Financial Management System (FMS) as its flexibility and ability to integrate into other accounting systems is a real strength from our point of view. It was something we were concerned that other systems would not be able to cope with.”

SIMS keeps track of the school’s fee income, handling all the different payment types from multiple individuals and organisations, as well as managing part and full payments.

The school is able to generate 1000 termly invoices in a day and get them out on time. There is no rekeying of data such as contact details of pupils, their families and the person or organisation paying the fees. This data is already in SIMS, so the process is straightforward, saving time and reducing the risk of errors.

As Phillip concludes: “One of the key advantages of SIMS FMS is that the system is designed specifically for a school environment – it’s a robust and accurate system.”

176 UK and international schoolshave selected SIMS Independent as their first choice system for handling fees billing and managing school finances simply. To find out why, visit www.capita-independent.co.uk or contact +44 (0)1285 647459.

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