Strong financial management supported by the right systems is key to schools achieving strong educational outcomes. While learning delivery and student welfare are undoubtedly primary areas of focus, maintaining solid financial health allows schools to effectively respond to the financial pressures inherent in the education sector.
Financial management is a perpetual challenge for most schools, with both independent and government schools constantly being asked to do more with less. Without the right systems in place to manage aspects like billing, budgeting and reporting, schools can find themselves struggling to deliver the quality educational experience they aspire to provide.
Your school’s financial management approach will only be effective if your systems are supported by appropriate business rules, financial controls, and processes, however. A regular financial health check is a great way to optimise your financial systems and ensure they’re adding the most value to your school.
What should a school financial health check focus on?
- Cash flow and budgeting: Does your school have a real-time view of your current and expected financial position? Are automated reports produced regularly and reviewed and approved by key stakeholders?
- Tuition fee management: Do you have a clear tuition fee policy that’s actively enforced? Is fee collection automated or manual? How is delinquency managed?
- Contract management: How often are contracts reviewed and renegotiated? Are key decision-makers the right people?
- Financial controls: How are aspects like procurement managed? Are there documented processes that are consistently followed?
- Governance: Is it simple to manage government reporting requirements and create submissions with the required level of detail?
- Data security: Is payment data collected, used and stored securely? Does your school have an electronic record of all transactions?
While not an exhaustive list, these areas are a good starting point to assess your school’s financial health and efficient use of funds.
Speaking with other business managers from schools in your network is also an invaluable way to benchmark your approach to financial management. If your school is spending more in certain areas or struggling with late fees compared to similar schools, it might be time to review your policies or providers.
PCSchool from Nelnet International supports a best practice approach to financial management. Our platform’s advanced financial modules let schools view and analyse real-time information and eliminate manual data entry and paper-based processes.
Nelnet International’s purpose is to build strong relationships that drive shared success. We’re proud to partner with organisations like Cole School Experts, with their extensive finance and system experience, to add even more value to the schools we work with.