Berkhamsted Schools Group is one of Britain’s leading independent schools group, with 475 years of history and tradition. The group comprises six schools, teaching students from ages 3 to 18 at its sites in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, England. Each school must balance a large number of expenses and cash flows each term—from student fees to teaching materials to staffing. The job of forecasting and making sure the books are balanced across the group falls on the operations team, while the group’s’ leadership team focuses on Berkhamsted’s primary concern—the education of its students.
Using Excel spreadsheets, the team had historically run forecasts only once a term. This made it difficult for the group to plan its resources throughout the school year with the agility to make changes as needed. Indeed, the process was so time consuming that the team was reluctant to forecast any more frequently. The situation was frustrating for Peter Nicholls, VP of operations, who wanted more rapid planning and forecasting cycles to best manage cash flows and investment decisions in the schools.
Increasing financial agility through more regular forecasts
Working with Workday Adaptive Planning’ U.K. partner Clear Plan, Nicholls identified Workday Adaptive Planning as the solution he needed for a more automated approach to monthly forecasting, reporting, and analysis. With Clear Plan’s support every step of the way, the new system was implemented over the six-week summer break, meaning Nicholls could start the new term in September afresh.
The group has now met Nicholls’ aim of running monthly forecasts for each school, allowing operations to be far more agile and flexible with the group’s finances during the term.
“Before we used Workday Adaptive Planning, our forecasts meant very little because by the time we ran the numbers they were already out of date, and the opportunity to use the intelligence gathered had passed,” said Nicholls. “Workday Adaptive Planning has allowed us to be far more agile, with a robust set of standardized reporting that helps us make decisions and continually plan ahead.”
Utilizing the benefits of a cloud-based system
According to Nicholls, one of the greatest benefits afforded by Workday Adaptive Planning comes from automated control and consolidation over group-wide financial strategy, which removes the risk of human error, allowing operations to act decisively on trusted data.
“Any fears we had about the cloud were completely unfounded,” said Nicholls. “It’s allowed us to centralize the finances of our six sites, with versions which are automatically aligned and updated in real time, making it far easier to report and plan across the group.”
Using new insight to advise the group’s leadership
Berkhamsted’s numbers are now more transparent, making it easy to trace anomalous or particularly noteworthy costs. This is especially exemplified with staffing costs—which Nicholls is now able to comprehensively monitor and manage across all six schools.
“We used to spend a great deal of time trying to drill down into data when the leadership team had questions about the finances,” said Nicholls. “Now we can come straight back with the answers and are much better equipped to manage expenditure and expectations in each school.”