Modernising MAT finance systems is no easy task. Until now.

Woman in modern office using computer

19 April 2021

Multi-academy trusts (MATs) asking how they can improve their finance systems may find the answer in a new partnership uniting market leader, Sage, with education technology specialist AdEPT Education.

Following months of rigorous evaluation, AdEPT Education was today confirmed to be an official Sage partner qualified to advise on, set up and support Sage Intacct, a finance platform that is especially suitable for MATs.

Being based in the cloud, Intacct can bring together a trust’s financial activities, which often involve legacy systems spread across multiple sites. In doing so, it can help the trust with its wider goals, such as digital transformation.

“Due to their very nature of bringing academies ‘under one roof’, a lot of MATs we speak to find these disparate finance systems are hindering their plans,” said Adam Calverley, who is a Senior Sage Consultant for AdEPT Education.

“In some cases, those systems can be very cumbersome,” he added. “For example, it’s not uncommon to see trusts exporting and working on spreadsheets both for everyday financial tasks and bigger projects. But if you’ve ever tried working with lots of different spreadsheets to get a clear picture of what’s happening, you’ll know how difficult and time-consuming that can be.”

Additionally, being a cloud-native platform, Intacct does not require any supporting infrastructure—or work to set up such hardware. Instead, it runs through a standard web browser, giving staff a clear, real-time picture of the organisation’s finances, wherever and whenever they may be working, and always protected with Sage’s impeccable security measures. Not only does this make Intacct valuable for MATs, it also supports the changes to working arrangements prompted by the pandemic, too.

Adam added: “It’s easy to take for granted the live dashboards that are so common in modern cloud platforms. But many MATs, due to their existing finance systems, do not currently have such dashboards.

“It might sound like a minor point, but for a business manager or a head, being able to instantly see what’s going on can help in so many ways—such as decision making, planning, and even internal communications, since you have more reliable and transparent information at your fingertips.”

When staff look beyond these dashboards, they’ll find the Intacct platform offers another unique feature that is particularly helpful for fund analysis and live consolidations— a routine aspect of accounting in the third sector.

Adam explains: “One of the trickiest tasks in group accounting is understanding the impact of each transaction at a granular level. Intacct specifically addresses this with a feature called ‘Dimensions’, which allows you to track what’s happening in ways other platforms can’t.

“If you raise a sales order, a nominal request, or a purchase order, you can use Dimensions to ‘tag’ the activity, giving you the ability to confidently say, ‘I spent this money, and it was received from this place, and it’s linked to these activities’. This allows the trust to easily see the thread running through all these transactions.”

Another way Intacct can help MATs is reflective of wider developments in education technology over recent years: it works seamlessly with other systems. Most notably, it has its own app marketplace that allows MATs to customise the platform, integrates with SIMs, and is the ideal bedfellow for Microsoft products.

“Through their individual academies, many MATs are already familiar with or using Microsoft 365 and SharePoint,” said Adam. “So the fact that Intacct both integrates with these platforms and also has a similar ‘look and feel’ to them, is great in two respects.

“First, staff can easily work across platforms, and second, when it comes to training for the new system, staff often already have an intuitive understanding of how to use Intacct, quickly taking to it.”

For its new partnership with Sage, the induction for AdEPT Education was not nearly as quick, and for good reason: being a market leader in financial software, Sage is particularly discriminating when forming new reseller partnerships.

As such, AdEPT Education spent months demonstrating how it would draw on its experience, expertise and resources to be an Intacct partner to MATs—and how it would provide the best advice, the best onboarding process, and the best long-term support to such organisations.

“Where they have them, ICT suppliers often display their accreditations as a badge of honour,” said Adam. “But a gold medal on a website doesn’t really do justice to what’s involved.

“With Sage, the evaluation process was long and comprehensive—and rightfully so, because Sage has long been leading the way with financial software. It also began its life as a modest British start-up, which is similar to our own story—so not only have we proven our knowledge about Intacct and our commitment to the trusts, we’re also a good cultural fit.”

Adam added: “There’s nothing out there that’s as progressive as Intacct. Of course, there are plenty of alternatives, but none of them are cloud-native in the way Intacct is, and none of them are quite as suitable for multiple sites, and third-sector organisations such as MATs.

“Given that a MAT’s finance system and the work of those using it underpins so much in the organisation, we’re delighted to be among such a small and carefully chosen group of specialists that have Sage’s seal of approval to help MATs with such an important part of their ICT suite.”

  • Switching finance systems can sound intimidating—but in our experience, once such a project is complete, many MATs are pleasantly surprised at the ease and simplicity of the process, asking why they didn’t make the switch earlier.
  • If you’d like to find out how Intacct can help your organisation and what would be involved, you can get in touch directly with Adam for a free consultation, on adam.calverley@adept.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call the main AdEPT Education line on 0333 4002490.

Written by Ben Rogers

Marketing Manager