Managing school payments is no mean feat. Even for individually managed schools, the ability to effectively administer payments and finances can be a complex, time-consuming task. For multi-academy trusts, or organisations with multiple sites, this can add another layer of difficulty.
The biggest problem? All of these challenges can easily be compounded by the use of manual processing, such as spreadsheets - which, incidentally, is a commonly used tool across education.
It’s no surprise, then, that many schools, local authorities and trusts will undoubtedly look for a simpler way to carry out their financial administration.
Today, digital tools offer opportunities aplenty to help your organisation to modernise their financial processes, enhancing aspects such as data security, analysis and management. Not to mention, many tools now offer automation to further reduce the heavy administration burden on your team.
So what exactly are the risks associated with manual financial processes, and how can digital help?
The Death of Manual Payment Management
Traditionally, schools have relied heavily on spreadsheets to manage their finances, and there may be multiple reasons for their continued use. For one, the most popular spreadsheet program, Microsoft Excel, remains a core application within the Microsoft 365 suite of Office programs - all of which are a standard feature within a school setting.
For another, there is a litany of training courses available for Excel, making it one of the most accessible and easy-to-use software applications around.
However, while new features have been added to Excel over the years to increase its capabilities and complexity, relying heavily upon the program often leads to a number of challenges.
At its most basic, the spreadsheet is a simply structured database that requires a large amount of manual entry, management and analysis. To complete any of these tasks can take a significant amount of time - and the more data you have, the more time consuming.
Not only that, but spreadsheets remain particularly prone to risk and inaccuracies caused by human error. In fact, a recent article by the Financial Reporter suggested that more than 90% of spreadsheets contain ‘serious’ errors… with the vast majority of those responsible for said sheets unaware of any issues.
In turn, errors can lead to serious issues such as GDPR failures and data breaches. For instance, last year, the Imperial College’s student newspaper reported an ‘enormous’ data breach as a result of the misuse of an Excel document, leading to potentially thousands of students’ data being accidentally released.
Fortunately, newer, more advanced digital software now offers an easy way to drastically improve processes. By eliminating the need for manual entry, digital solutions can mean reduced admin times, enhanced data security, and a very low risk of human error.
The Digital Income Management Revolution
Before you select any income and payment management solution, it’s a good idea to have a clear understanding of what the tool needs to be able to do and - most importantly - where it can help improve your current processes.
For any school, the ability to plan financial performance, limit loss and waste, and carry out effective audits is paramount. For organisations managing multiple schools or sites, you also need to consider how you can coordinate processes effectively, and the ease with each monthly report can be created.
This is where digital comes in. While the widespread use of spreadsheets is both time-consuming and prone to error, digital solutions enable data to be automatically collected and compiled in a structured manner, meaning your data is only one-click away.
Moreover, for organisations managing multiple schools or sites, digital platforms automatically reconcile data from every location, providing essential oversight right across your business.
And that’s just the start. Platforms that enable automation can also simplify crucial financial processes, such as carrying out an audit, creating custom financial reports, and synchronising information across multiple data sources.
The good news is that this digital platform already exists. Meet Tali.
With Tali, it’s never been easier to manage and monitor income, eliminate human error and carry out essential financial reporting tasks, including:
And, because Tali is a cloud-based solution, gone are the days of version control and data duplication. Everything you need is available at the click of button, allowing you to work flexibility and collaboratively, within a highly secure environment.
Pebble’s innovative financial management software for schools provides trusts with easier financial reporting, while giving them advanced capabilities for more efficient, centralised financial management. At the same time, it offers major financial management benefits to individual academies.
Discover more about our full range of products, and contact us today.
Want to know more? Leave your details and we’ll be in touch.
Discover everything you need to know about claiming GIft Aid for your organisation with this free ebook.
See how much Tali can help you to maximise donations…
Gift Aid Eligible
Gift Aid generated
in a year
Discover how Pebble's software tools can help you manage your school’s finances and payments.