With back to school in full swing, the gates are open once again and not just in the metaphorical sense. Schools purchase lots of things (often in a decentralised way), especially at the start of a new academic year, so the spending gateway is also well and truly open. This year, along with the easing of restrictions comes more school events, more parent-facing occasions, more school trips and visits as well as greater opportunities for sporting fixtures, arts exhibitions and drama performances. Schools are keen to get back to track and it is easy to see how costs could spiral out of control this academic year.
Ensuring your school is operating efficiently is easier said that done. As a bursar you have ultimate responsibility for how budgets are divided and ensuring the school stays on track financially. From stationery and IT to event provision, general maintenance, utilities, boarding provision, fuel for school transport, catering and merchandise – with multiple staff, across multiple departments, ordering a range of items or services for school at any given time, this can be a minefield to keep on top of.
Understanding where you have overspent is great in hindsight, but it doesn’t help to keep spending on track at the point it is happening. Often, we only discover we have exceeded a budget when the bill arrives, at which point it is too late. For bursars trying to operate at maximum efficiency, understanding where the triggers are for overspend, before they actually occur, can really help. Likewise, setting spending limits for every team member means that only authorised staff can create orders and best of all, they can’t exceed them.
Easy to use eProcurement software from Zupa can help with all of these aspects, to mitigate unforeseen costs and also help with the planning, operational and financial reporting aspects of purchasing items for school (whatever they might be). Importantly, the right technology can also help schools to purchase items more sustainably and ethically as well as more cost effectively, tracing where products originate from via the supply chain and providing live price comparison across a wider supplier network. Have more information at your fingertips such as how products are sourced, delivered and costed will give you greater powers of negotiation and more insight to make informed choices about your purchasing.
Most overspend in schools happens because teams across different departments don’t have full visibility of the items or services already purchased. This usually leads to last minute over ordering and duplication of items, leading to surplus of stock not to mention potential wastage. They key is to use eProcurement technology like ours to centralise and digitise school purchasing, but in a way that provides transparency across the entire school. Agreeing fixed spending limits, having access to a full, live inventory of items and services already purchased/in stock with alerts if something is running low, makes all the difference.
Not only will the technology help your school to save time and money and keep on top of reporting, but it will also boost efficiency, sustainability, purchasing power and financial stability. Not a bad school of thought for a new school year?