Union is also implementing mobile app to manage student and staff expenses
The University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union (UCLAN SU), is implementing automated accounting technology from Advanced Exchequer (Advanced), to reduce management accounts reporting time by half (from eight to four days). The union will also go live with a mobile expenses app in June 2016.
The University of Central Lancashire is one of the UK’s biggest universities. The Students’ Union is an independent organisation that represents the university’s 28,000 students. UCLAN SU has 200 clubs and societies, and employs 45 staff and 250 students.
The organisation’s existing accounting software had been in place for many years and was no longer able to cope with increasingly complex funding requirements. Advanced was selected from a shortlist of three software providers due to its ease of use and ability to automate previously manual paper-based processes.
Using the Exchequer accounting system will automate these processes to reduce the time taken to produce management reports. Statement Of Recommended Practice (SORP) reports, which currently take three days to create, will be produced at the touch of a button.
Four finance staff will use the system to automate data input and to create the reports. A further 20 budget holder managers will also have access to view the reports. Invoices will now be scanned in and archived online, rather than printed and stored, and will be able for viewing by drilling down to a transactional level.
Lynda Stott, Project Manager, University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union, says,
“Currently our accounting system can collect data but to analyse and report on that information requires a lot of manual data entry in spreadsheets, which is prone to error.
“The process is also time consuming. KPI reports are produced outside the accounts system which wastes time and are not always accurate. With the Exchequer system that data will be automatically updated on a daily basis.”
eXpenses365, a mobile app developed specifically for Students’ Unions which integrates with the accounting system, will also go live in the summer and will be used by the union staff and around 3,000 students. The app will replace a paper-based process to submit expenses. It will also allow students who are members of clubs and societies to easily view the accounts, to see balances, transactions and committed spend, enabling greater financial visibility.
Stott adds, “This is a fast-paced environment and a flexible system like Exchequer will allow us to easily adapt accounts to accommodate changes like new departments. Reducing manual data entry will provide accurate information that is easily accessible, along with clear audit trails to support and simplify regulatory compliance.
“Automating processes will not only reduce our paper usage, which is key to our commitment to minimising our impact on the environment, but it will streamline finance processes and free up staff for more value-added work.”