MIS functionality: Finance

Most MIS providers would argue they offer a full ‘one stop shop’ offering all the functionally most schools need without using a range of suppliers.

We’ve often wondered why schools might continue to use ‘bolt on’ services rather than integrated ones.

We understand the argument that schools don’t like change, but with the amount of MIS churn continuing to grow, this now has reduced validity.

We often hear that ‘we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way’ and ‘we’re slow to embrace new technologies’,

Schools may opt to use a range of administration software tools despite the availability of an all-in-one package from their MIS providers for several reasons:

  • Specialised features: Some tools may offer specialised features that are not available within the integrated MIS package or are better suited to specific tasks and/or requirements of the school.
  • User preference: Staff may prefer certain tools over others due to familiarity, ease of use or functionality that better aligns with their own workflows.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Schools might find that using a range of tools provides them with more flexibility and scalability, allowing them to adapt more easily to changing needs or to integrate new technologies.
  • Cost-effectiveness: In some cases, it may be more cost-effective for schools to use a combination of tools, especially if they already have licences or if the tools offer free or low-cost plans.
  • Data management: Using multiple tools can sometimes facilitate better data management and reporting capabilities, as each tool may handle data in a way that is more conducive to the school’s reporting needs.
  • Avoiding vendor lock-in: Relying on a single provider can lead to vendor lock-in, where the school becomes overly dependent on one company’s software and services.

While integrated MIS systems offer many benefits, such as unified data management and streamlined processes, schools must weigh these against the advantages of using multiple specialised tools to determine the best approach for their unique circumstances.

We asked all MIS providers to let us know if they  offer the following, and if so, could they let us have a paragraph or two on each element they offer.

We specifically asked about:

  • Finance
  • Reporting & analytics (inc AI)
  • Attendance
  • Timetabling
  • Parental engagement

Over the next few posts we’ll cover these individually, but below are the comments we received about finance. For simplicity, we’ve listed the MIS responses in alphabetical order:

Arbor Finance is used by over 2,000 LA maintained schools to manage their daily finances.

Key features include the fact that it’s:

  • Cloud-based so can be accessed from anywhere
  • Clean interface, simple to use, requiring minimal training and setup
  • Low cost so schools can save money
  • Powerful & flexible reporting, including statutory CFR returns
  • eSignatures so you can sign-off approvals digitally

Bromcom Finance is a robust, cloud-based accounting system that is fully integrated with Bromcom MIS. It offers secure anytime, anywhere access with no need for software installation. A single login gives access to Finance and the MIS, with a uniform look and feel in a modern browser design.​ To minimise re-training, Bromcom Finance has been carefully designed as a ‘drop in replacement’ for the most widely used finance management system used in schools.

Bromcom Finance generates live dashboards for the Leadership team so you can keep track of your accounts without the need for static reports. It’s also fully integrated with Bromcom’s Advanced Report Builder (ARB) to enable the development of detailed reports. And there’s no need for a new licence and the associated charges for schools converting to a academy status.

For MATs, Bromcom Finance is fully integrated with Bromcom’s MAT Vision product, to provide trust level reporting from a collated dataset. At a strategic level, users are able to access all management and financial information in one place. Furthermore, the system provides Microsoft Power BI integration to offer complete flexibility over how data is viewed.

Our MIS solution offers software for managing school administration, curriculum, and finance.

This system stores all school data, such as student and parent information, absenteeism (attendance), discipline, marks, subjects, learner notes, timetable configuration, accounts, etc. The data is interoperable and available to authorised users responsible for maintaining it.

The software is created for the schooling environment and caters to school-specific requirements that other software created for businesses does not.

Finance – PowerSchool does not provide a finance solution outside of the US and Canada.  Instead, we provide deep integrations with established finance and payment providers (for example, https://www.zenda.com/)

Next Generation of FMS 

We’re building on our market-leading solution, FMS6 to offer an integrated cloud-based finance solution to LA maintained schools along with new functionality for Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs).  

This next generation of FMS will streamline school budget management and simplify statutory reporting for all schools.  

Key benefits: 

  • Cloud-based technology – flexible, secure, anytime, anywhere access 
  • Intuitive user interface – places essential functions at your fingertips
    • Retained database structure – a straightforward migration path without the need for retraining. 
  • Seamless integration – with SIMS Next Gen, FMS Reporting, and a wide range of 3rd parties, consolidating your financial management into one cohesive Management Information System (MIS). 

In addition, MATs will benefit from: 

  • Centralised banking – maintain debtors and transfer money between schools 
  • Inter-school journals – manage recharges and apportion costs across schools within the same group.  
  • Authorisation hierarchy and the ability to allow multiple authorisers will reduce bottlenecks and ensure the right people to be involved in the approval process at the right stage. 
  • Centrally managed suppliers – ensures consistency in supplier data across all schools within a MAT or school group 

We will launch this comprehensive FMS upgrade only once it reaches completion, anticipated for early next year.  

Rest assured that FMS6 will continue to be available and fully supported for as long as our customers need it. 

FMS Reporting 

FMS Reporting is set to transform how leaders and finance teams prepare and share operational, management, and audit reports across schools and school groups. It will significantly reduce the workload associated with report generation, introducing innovative features for saving and exporting data in widely used formats.  

With the initial set of reports already in use by our early adopter schools, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.  

Key benefits for all schools: 

  • Cloud-based – flexible, secure, anytime, anywhere access  
  • Export in popular file formats – XLS, PDF and CSV. Improved formatting options for greater clarity 
  • Efficient data access – drill down into individual reports for more information 
  • Historic financial views – view multi-year reports in a single report 
  • Customisation – tailor, modify and save reports for future re-use 
  • Data visualisation – highlight trends and visualise data with charts and graphs 

Key benefits for MATs:  

  • Consolidated reporting – make more informed decisions with reporting across school groups 
  • Cross-year reporting – easy year-on-year reporting with access to historic and current financial year data 

We’re awaiting responses from several other MIS providers and will update this document as we receive them.

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