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New Cloud Finance & HR Solution Responds to Market Sector Challenges

By Anne Keeling

WCBS, the leading provider of finance management software to independent schools in the UK, has announced the latest addition to their product suite – a new cloud-hosted Finance & HR solution set to take the market by storm. First introduced in 1984, WCBS’s passFINANCE has been the market leading solution for over two decades. Having developed and supplied on-premise school management information systems for 35 years, in over 40 countries, WCBS has now added a cloud-hosted finance solution with additional functionality and benefits to further meet the needs of today’s independent schools and school groups. Partnering with The Access Group, one of the UK’s unicorn companies; WCBS’s Cloud Finance takes the passFINANCE expertise to a new level, addressing many of the challenges and requirements that independent schools worldwide are now facing. The need to run a school as a streamlined business requires detailed expenditure and income analysis, direct routes to banks for supplier payments, and specialist support to meet the unique needs of the school - from boarding and catering requirements, to school trips and hospitality management. Integrated data management is a common need and essential for the growing number of school groups, and independent schools with foreign sister schools. A consolidation option within Cloud Finance allows groups to centrally manage accounts across all their schools. “We are delighted to partner with The Access Group in the delivery of our new Cloud Finance, HR & Payroll solution. Their core finance module is truly best of breed and perfectly complements our billing and sales ledger to bring together a big step forward in Finance, HR & Payroll offerings to fee paying schools.” Stephen Bilboe, Sales & Marketing Director at WCBS. The increasingly complex business of managing school finances has been addressed within Cloud Finance, including the management of multiple contracts along with comprehensive consolidation reporting and analysis. These functions have been tailored for the education sector, providing an advanced finance management solution for the 21st century school and school group. “We know that schools don’t want an out-of-the-box finance management system because they now vary so extensively in their provision and needs,” says Stephen. “We have introduced Cloud Finance as a complementary offering to our leading passFINANCE solution, and in response to the breadth of requirements of today’s independent schools. Cloud Finance aims to mitigate all the typical risks and challenges they now face, and to provide the very specific support that’s essential to successful implementation.” Cloud Finance is available to UK independent schools, and to international schools around the world where financial regulations allow. Schools already using passFINANCE who wish to migrate to Cloud Finance will be able to do so seamlessly. For more information on Cloud Finance, visit<>. If you would like to arrange a demonstration or find out even more, email [email protected]<mailto:[email protected]> or call +44 (0)1458 833 344. Cloud Finance FAQs Q. What are the biggest challenges to schools regarding finance management? A. There are several common challenges: The ability to analyse income and expenditure data and present it in different ways as required by the school and governing body. Efficient production of targeted worksheet and dashboard solutions relevant for different requirements. Integration of finance data between head office and schools within a group or with foreign sister schools. Identifying a finance management solution that meets the specific needs of the school, that provides school-specialist service support. Access to a data management solution that can integrate the full breadth of school data needs including, but not limited to, finance i.e. admissions, academic, pupil journey, pastoral, alumni and human resources as well as finance. SLT and governing body understanding and trust of cloud as a storage and SaaS solution and knowing how to identify the most secure and robust providers. Access to data management solutions that provide employee self-serve Human Resource services integrated to finance e.g. time-off requests, sickness monitoring, pension management, professional development. Q. Why do the finance needs of schools differ so much today? A. Independent and international schools need to function as efficient businesses, and both school types are part of highly competitive sectors today. This means Senior Leadership teams are under pressure to find ways to differentiate their school from others they compete with and to generate enough income. Schools seek out a range of ways to do this such as boarding, out of hours facility provision, teacher training, and further education for parents. Today, many schools are part of larger school groups (within the international school sector, 3,232 international schools currently belong to 417 school groups according to ISC Research data) where finance management needs to be accessible at head office. A growing number of independent schools (currently 73 British independent school brands according to ISC Research data) now have sister schools established in foreign countries where access to finance data management is also necessary. Q. Why don’t schools simply use commercial solutions? A. Commercial solutions do not take into consideration the unique requirements of fee- paying schools. Q. In the most recent WCBS research of MIS use by schools, many senior leaders admitted to not trusting the cloud as a data storage solution. Can they trust it and why? A. There is almost always a hesitancy from school senior leaders and boards about moving data storage to the cloud. They worry about a lack of control as their data will not be sitting in a server on the school premises nor managed by school IT employees. The reality is that onsite solutions and staff can be a much higher security risk for schools including staff expertise that may be limited or out of date, inadequate data security measures in place, or inadequate server upgrades. Senior Leaders could look to public limited companies as their benchmark. If PLCs can trust cloud storage with the vast data security needs that they require, then schools should feel a level of confidence in the cloud. Senior leaders could spend time learning about data risk and recovery, and how the cloud supports this in comparison to an onsite server to better understand the options. For example, onsite servers need to be down for several hours for upgrades to take place, in comparison to the cloud where multiple servers are utilised, enabling upgrades to be seamlessly conducted. Managing a school’s onsite servers is often the responsibility of one or two individuals, in comparison to the cloud where an extensive team of skilled staff provide data storage expertise and support.

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