Academy Transformation Trust (ATT), comprising of 22 primary and secondary academies and one further education college in the Midlands, East of England and South East, has purchased IMP Software’s MAT budgeting system to support its move to centralisation.
From March, ATT will switch from its existing budgeting software to IMP Planner, which provides one unified database for all academies, automated budget-building and unrivalled reporting across the Trust. The timing is significant for ATT, which recently made the strategic decision to adopt GAG Pooling, where the Trust receives its funding centrally and then allocates budgets to individual academies, rather than academies receiving their income and then just paying a top slice to cover central costs.
“Our current budgeting software, put simply, did not enable us to get to where we wanted to be,” explained ATT Chief Finance Officer Peter Wilson. “We needed something other than a school budgeting software with MAT reports stuck on top. It is the different approach brought by IMP Software that we really value – the ‘top down’ rather than the ‘bottom up’ – and it gives us detailed cross-MAT information on budget lines that we did not have before. The expectation is that this software will further support our MAT budgeting and reporting, enabling even more effective analysis across the Trust.”
Having already changed its budgeting models, with academy principals given oversight of education spend only and operational spend sitting under operational directors, ATT’s decision to centrally collect funding and allocate according to need was a further milestone for the Trust. “We felt this was required because our academies operate under 10 local authorities, with different funding levels for primary and secondary schools,” Peter said. “Some academies were really struggling, others were doing better financially, so GAG pooling across the Trust gives everybody that even keel. We wanted to GAG pool our reserves too. We have been interested in new budgeting software for some time, but these developments meant that IMP Planner would be the perfect supporting resource.”
Peter praised IMP Software’s knowledge and expertise in MAT budgeting systems, and said he was looking forward to a successful working relationship. “IMP Software knows the sector and I have every confidence in their delivery. The quality of communication in implementation has been very good – we have had lots of video conference calls, web chats and training session – and for the first time we will be able to implement a zero-based budgeting approach and really understand our costs across the MAT. Not only will this help our position, I see IMP Planner as a development for the sector,” he added.
IMP Software co-founder Will Jordan said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Academy Transformation Trust at such a key stage in its organisational development. Our first 10 months as a company have shown there is huge interest in our MAT-focused budgeting, re-forecasting and financial reporting software, from both small-to-medium sized and large Trusts. We are now working with 15 MATs, which represent over 200 schools in all four corners of the country, and are looking forward to further establishing our position as the strategic financial planning partner to MATs.”