Windrush Primary School is located in Greenwich and is made up of 29 classes across two locations with 821 children ranging in age from 4 to 11.
School Business Manager, Alison Deadman has been at Windrush for three years and her role focuses on looking after the school’s finances, budgeting and contracts. She has one budget and one financial management system across the two school locations - Thamesmead which is 1 form of entry and Charlton which has 3 forms of entry. Each year the school takes in 120 reception children.
Before Windrush, Alison headed up school accounting and children’s services finances at Greenwich Local Authority, which covered 86 schools and social care. In a move to get to closer to the frontline to make more of a difference, Alison took on the School Business Manager role at Windrush.
Time was Going Missing
Alison really enjoys the role and finds being in a school allows her to see the impact of the work she is doing in a more tangible way, plus the environment is a great place to be.
After a couple of years of being in the role, Alison identified that one of the biggest drains on her time, her office staff’s time and the school’s teaching staff’s time was the ordering of school supplies. Compared to how she would shop online at home, the process at the school seemed old-fashioned. Teachers were handwriting lists of goods required and office staff were then having to type in these orders on the supplier website alongside producing purchase orders.
So, when GLS Educational Supplies asked her to take part in a pilot scheme for their new Smart Connect solution, Alison jumped on board with a view to seeing if it could help save the school time.
Getting the Most from her FMS was Key
Smart Connect is part of a wider Smart Ordering range, it includes great online features and tools that can transform a school’s office with a smarter way of purchasing. It was developed by the team at GLS Educational Supplies to help save busy SBMs time and their schools money, by making the process of buying school supplies faster, smoother and more affordable. Smart Connect links the GLS website with a school’s FMS system to streamline and simplify the whole procurement process, making it quicker and easier to get orders signed off. Smart Ordering tools help the school’s staff to get orders created in a simpler way, creating efficiency in procurement.
Once on board, Alison and her team started small to get used to Smart Ordering and then moved on to bigger orders. A key concern for Alison was saving time but this couldn’t come at the expense of financial controls. Smart Ordering didn’t disappoint.
A key test for the Smart Ordering came in July 2017 as the school started to prepare for the new term in September and the dreaded task of filling up the stock cupboards came around. Usually at this time of year it would take up to a week to manually fulfil the order but with Smart Ordering, Alison and her team, alongside everyone else in the process, managed to complete it in a day. As summer 2018, rolled around, Alison found that she could use some of the Smart Ordering features such as Repeat Order to cut this time again.
Giving 10 Minutes of Your Time Could Save Hours
Alison says: “Features such as Share Basket, Wishlists and Repeat Order had a huge impact as they allow teachers to prepare their order but not commit to the spend. The order sign-off still sits centrally with the office team, so the reassurance around maintaining budget control is still there. Invoices can be sent directly into the FMS and they will automatically reconcile against the PO, so the SBM can keep full control of the audit trail and easily reconcile the budget.
“At Windrush, the whole Smart Ordering process has reduced the admin and bureaucracy around supplies purchasing making it efficient for everyone - teachers, SLT and finance staff – and we’re saving up to fifty to sixty per cent of the admin and teacher time.
“The system is so intuitive it and works how you would shop online at home – it's essentially a modern way of purchasing school supplies. Completing a requisition is really easy as it takes just one click of a button to send in into FMS. Paying invoices and generating purchase orders is much simpler too. This means we can spend the time we are saving on those useful things that are going to make a real difference as opposed to being bogged down in the administration.”
Alison was so impressed with the system that she also worked with 10 other schools in Greenwich to strike a deal that would save them all money, if they all signed up to Smart Ordering collectively.
In fact, 10,536 schools have collectively saved £2,074,168 since Smart Ordering launched in September 2017. SBMs are also finding that they are saving up to 5 hours a week in admin time as it reduces the time and effort involved in ordering supplies, eliminating the time spent on faxing, telephoning or emailing orders. When you add to that, the fact it’s free to use, easy to set up, taking less than 10 minutes (with no help from IT required) signing up to the solution becomes a no-brainer.
Visit https://www.glsed.co.uk/smart to find out more and join the thousands of Smarter SBMs that have already made the ‘smart’ move.