We tend to view educational institutions as somehow less ambitious than non- or for-profits.

I would argue that this tendency rests on a narrow view of ambition. Of course you can be ambitious to profit. But ambition can also spur service, selflessness, and teaching.

Today’s schools, colleges, and universities have many of the same pain-points as businesses. They want to increase efficiency. Get a clear view of their financials. Expand enrollment and student service without bloating their IT budget.

We have found this to be true at every level of education. Let’s take a look at two examples: a multi-site preschool and a modern college.

Preschool Scales

The Learning Workshop operates more than 100 preschools in Northern Europe, with plans to open many more in the near future. As CFO Atle Hørlyk relates, this ambition brought challenges. “Our challenges, our mission, were to find a system that enabled us to handle a great growth,” he reflects. “With the [ERP] system we had, this was not possible.”

Agreeing that they needed new finance software, Hørlyk and his team identified five must-have characteristics:

  • The ability to add new schools
  • A flexible structure
  • The freedom to increase volumes without substantial scaling in IT or finances
  • Ease of use, both for accounting staff and individual school managers
  • Implementation needed to be simple, with limited training needs

“Our vision,” Hørlyk says, “is that ‘we get the world’s most important values to grow.’ This means that we want to use our resources to best run our preschools, with efficient administration.”

Xledger more than met Hørlyk’s five original requirements. Finance staffing needs have declined, thanks to automated workflows and mobile expense reporting: our “Accounting Department…can handle significantly larger transaction volumes with less resource use than before.” Among the processes Xledger automates, Hørlyk singles out invoicing and bank integration as integral to this benefit. By reducing administrative work, Xledger allowed directors to “spend their time realizing our vision.”

That vision was finally within reach. “We have grown by 35% since we started using [the system],” Hørlyk reports. “Xledger has proven to be as scalable in growth as we had intended.”

College goes digital

Founded in 1843 to train railroad engineers, Swindon College has expanded to provide a range of traditional and vocational courses in facilities purpose-built for each field of study.

Offering construction apprenticeships alongside postgraduate study, Swindon’s operations demand financial agility. Their existing ERP system couldn’t deliver it. Swindon relied on IT specialists to navigate an on-premise behemoth. Bridgeman recalls:

  • High levels of inflexible customization
  • Costly reliance on manual processes
  • Impractical development expenses
  • Inability to support Swindon’s digital ambitions

By the time Swindon came to us in 2015, these pain points had become intolerable. Xledger fulfilled Swindon’s requirements in two stages: first, by ridding them of an outgrown system, and second, by equipping them with a bleeding-edge true-cloud alternative.

“We are capable and in control of our own product, whereas with the previous system we were not,” says Bridgeman. “I don’t have to ask a specialist in IT to extract data I can’t drill down into or rely on an SQL specialist to do things for me.”

Xledger impressed Swindon early in the process. Experienced consultants guided Bridgeman’s team through a strong migration plan. “Key to us at the end of the day was success of the implementation process and delivery of the product,” Bridgeman states. Xledger did that “really well.” The true-cloud model heightened insight and accessibility. Every user could access Xledger’s BI functionality “anyway, anytime, anyplace.” Bridgeman also praises Xledger for saving Swindon time and resources.

“Xledger has been a facilitator of digital change in our organization,” concludes Bridgeman. “There are a lot of colleges that could benefit out there that currently use the old 90s style ERP systems.”