Overcoming the difficulties of modern education budgeting

Martin Holyoak, education product specialist for IRIS Education and PS Financials, on how education institutes can combat the challenges of edtech budgeting

It’s difficult for many schools to access up-to-date financial records, making it hard to plan ahead with any financial confidence.

There’s arguably less meat on school budgets as there was in previous years, and it’s crucial that every penny is accounted for in advance. These budget pressures are causing schools to prioritise expenditure and neglect areas such as facilities and equipment, leading to spiralling repair costs. In fact, according to the NAO report Capital funding for schools, the cost of repairing all UK school buildings to a good condition in 2020 could cost a staggering £26bn.

Saving a penny today could cost schools a pound tomorrow, so it’s vital there’s still money left in the budget to cover these building maintenance costs; however, somewhere along the way, this money is going missing. It’s clear that to stay ahead of future budgeting pressures, schools must start making space for this funding allocation now.

To stay ahead of this worrying trend of deterioration, schools need to take back control of their budgeting, despite the mounting difficulties of modern education budgeting. So what is causing these budgeting problems?

The difficulties of budgeting

The budgeting process is riddled with laborious manual tasks and data entry. Processes that take place in one software package – for example, your financial management software – aren’t reflected in your budgeting software, and these need to be tracked and entered by hand. For MATs, this process is compounded, as there’s so many locations to keep track of.

All these problems are made even worse for schools by constant changes. Tracking cumulative monthly staff expenditure is laborious, and records have to be updated every time staff pay changes. This means that you’re dual processing everything – every time staff details are updated, you have to pull them from your MIS records and replicate them in your budgeting software.

These issues are leading schools down the expensive path of budgeting uncertainty. How can they invest in their premises and infrastructure if they’re unsure how much money is actually left in their shrinking budgets? 

Even legislation such as the new mandatory minimum per-pupil funding levels can lead to further uncertainty, as it can be difficult to see how these will affect your school without having access to the bigger picture.

These issues are leading schools down the expensive path of budgeting uncertainty. How can they invest in their premises and infrastructure if they’re unsure how much money is actually left in their shrinking budgets?

Integration is the solution

Integration is key to solving all of these problems. Thanks to new advances in school tech integration, there’s no reason to struggle through your budgeting any more. This enables financial staff to see the full picture across a single site or a hundred in real time, as any changes made to their financial management software are reflected in their budgets.

That’s why we’re working with a new partner to help solve your budgeting woes. Data transfers between PS Financials and IRIS Financial Planner ensure you’re working with ‘live’ data and save you hours of time-consuming work. It really is that easy to free up time for the tasks that really matter to your school or MAT.

Now, sync nominals, cost centres, profiled budget plans and actuals to date, and pull contract changes from your system without the need for dual processing. It can also reconcile payroll to expected costs by staff member and individual contracts so you have a clear picture of your finances.

Once year-end submissions come around, you can rely on IRIS Financial Planner to allow you to run multiple scenarios and project your year-end balances up to five years in advance by combining staffing commitments with data from PS Financials, ensuring you can see the most up-to-date version of your budget and actual spend. This makes your budget forecast returns a breeze.

If you want help overcoming the difficulties of modern education budgeting, head to the PS Financials website now to find out more and to book a free demonstration.

Visit https://psfinancials.com today