Case Study: Greenwich Students’ Union

12 February

Jamie Allen

We met with Greenwich Students’ Union (GSU) from a referral from their auditors Goodman Jones and Martin Bailey, an experienced audit partner in the Charity/Not for Profit Sector. A students union is an invaluable part of a university, run by Students for the Benefit of the students, its focus is to ensure their views are represented in the decisions of the university and provide support services and activities to ensure the correct opportunities for all. Having a well operated and engaged student Union is critical to the happiness of the students and therefore the ratings they will achieve.

GSU had been through a strong period of growth and development and was in the process of expanding their campus. The absorption of a new Campus created significant level of new items to manage operationally and in the finance department. The Union had historically used a desktop accounting solution and had a strong desire to digitise and automate their financial processes. This was acknowledged as a large amount of change for the department who had established their processes over a period of time, they also had some personnel changes in recent times but the commitment was in place to work through this process to get to a new and better way of working.

The Union had a number of system they used operationally to manage their membership groups in sports and activities clubs for which they also host ticketed events. All funds collected are then available to be re-used to progress the club with equipment and new events. Knowing the balances and what funds are available was a critical part of the project.

Beyond this the Union also had a number of Retail/Hospitality sites on Campus. The ePOS system also had to be upgraded and then integrated so the Commercial Services team had real time insights into the performance of their outlets. Understanding the product popularity and also changing sales behaviour to promote premium products was a key objective of the Commercial Services Team so this level of reporting needed to be delivered. In addition to sales data, Rota information and analysis was required to ensure they could monitor labour margins and metrics for each site.

Certain funds within the Union are also restricted and these needed to be controlled and monitored, it was key for budget holders and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) had instant access to their numbers and a cost authorisation process was in place to ensure all costs are approved electronically. All documentation should then be attached to the financial transactions in the accounts so they had complete understanding and granularity behind the numbers when comparing to budgets. The Union also budgeted and re-forecast through the year so the system needed to have the ability to run and maintain multiple budgets. In terms of added technology to assist with bookkeeping efficiency we also implemented OCR Invoice Scanning technology, Bank Feeds, BACs Batch Supplier Payments and an expenses system for staff expenses to automate these processes.

So the scope of the project was set and we then made the software recommendation needed to meet the demands. As part of the project a full review of the financial structures to ensure all information could be coded appropriately with future reporting in mind. This was in terms of Retail Outlets, Internal Department, Clubs, Societies, specific projects and initiatives, and restricted funding grants. We also wanted to simplify the Chart of Accounts and ensure this was as lean as possible but contained the appropriate financial control accounts to monitor the integrations were working correctly.

These structures were then imported into the system and training was provided on the system prior to the migration date. We were also able to map the historic transactions from the old accounting system and import these into the new system so the business had historic comparatives at a transactional level. As mentioned previously, this was a reasonable change for the Finance Team who also experienced some staffing changes during the implementation period. So we were able to deploy some assistance from the 4PointZero team to assist in the initial period which assisted with training through the initial migration phase while the team got up to speed with the new system. We were happy to offer this flexibility and work with the GSU team to get everything set up and explained to the wider team. In the initial stages we took on some initial tasks such as uploading the budgets while the Finance Team took in other items. All items were then handed over as more information was able to be handed over.

All items as part of the initial scope were completed some examples of the required reports are included below. All reports are completely automated and can be run online 24/7. The team used to spend a lot of time in excel preparing reports and this time has been reduced significantly. You cannot unfortunately replace excel completely but this has helped remove a lot of issues around version control and having a single point of truth.

Retail Dashboard

No alt text provided for this image

Department Profit and Loss with Comparison to Re-Forecast and Drill down to Invoice Level.

No alt text provided for this image

Membership Daily Revenue Reconciliation for Clubs and Societies:

No alt text provided for this image

These are just some of the items delivered and there is still more we can improve and automate which we will continue to work with the GSU Team to deliver.

·      Integration with NUS and other Large Suppliers

·      Payroll automation from Rota System to Payroll

·      Integration Payroll System to Finance System

We are really pleased with the solution we have been able to deliver to GSU. Well done to the Team for working through this change to a very different way of working. We look forward to continuing to work together to improve your internal operational and financial processes.

Move into the future today!

Try out for FREE for 30 days. Even better, only days that you actually use are counted.

© Copyright 2023. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions