Prince Regent Street Trust, formed in 2018, is a group of three good or outstanding primary schools in the Tees Valley. The Trust’s model is fundamentally one of sustainable school improvement, underpinned by a very successful primary ethos, enabling all children to maximise their potential through access to the highest quality education. To support its mission, the Trust’s central team need effective finance and operations systems in place.
For Ryan Powner, who was appointed Chief Finance and Operations Officer in February 2021, IMP Software and its MAT-led budgeting, forecasting and reporting system is a critical and trusted partner. Having purchased IMP Planner in his previous role as Assistant Finance Director at Vision Academies Learning Trust, Ryan had no hesitation in procuring IMP for Stockton-on-Tees based Prince Regent Street Trust.
“When I arrived the Trust had two concurrent budgeting systems, as a result of working towards a merger, but when that broke down I knew IMP Planner would be the best fit given my previous experience and relationship with Will Jordan (IMP co-founder),” Ryan said. “Whilst school office staff were – and still are – responsible for transactional finance, different and site-specific budgeting systems were not working. We needed to move from school-to-MAT to MAT-to-school budgeting, thereby enabling me to see things instantly across the Trust, avoid errors and duplication, and give confidence in the whole system. We can now push things down from the Trust and see the impact.”
Prince Regent Street Trust has used IMP Planner since September 2021, and Ryan was full of praise for IMP’s software implementation and support teams. “Firstly, during the initial phase transferring data from our old systems to IMP Planner, the team members just completely understood how MATs and schools work and that was due to their sector backgrounds,” he revealed. “They got to know the Trust, and me, and were really flexible on timescales for implementation. If something came up elsewhere that I had to deal with, they were totally accommodating. We had a Teams platform set up and they would drop things in, which I would review and return, so it was a seamless transfer.”
“Then we had the handover training: how to physically use the system. The IMP team’s knowledge of their own system really stood out. That may sound basic, but in my experience not everyone has that. If they did not know something or an error cropped up they went away and looked at it immediately. Communication between the frontline team and the supporting technical team was clearly strong. Any minor bump in the road was quickly smoothed out. In my view, there is nothing they can do to improve.”
Ryan added that the Trust had seen an immediate benefit within the first six months of using IMP Planner. “We have set our budgets, reports are really easy to produce – summary or detailed, helpful for Heads and governors with varying financial knowledge, and visual green/red flags – and we have forecasted until the end of this year,” he said. “Everything is constantly live. Whilst budget setting is historic, if you keep using IMP Planner to re-forecast time and time again you get a constantly up-to-date picture. As a result, we have worked with Heads to explore various ‘what if’ scenarios for Trust planning: e.g. what recruiting an additional member of staff would mean, if a support staff member’s contract came to an end what would happen to other budget lines, and the impact of pupil numbers dropping.”
Having twice purchased IMP Planner, and recommended the system to others including The Dean Trust, where Ryan started as an apprentice before becoming a management account, he stressed that “IMP is relevant across the sector, from small MATs to larger and more established Trusts working across many local authorities”. He said: “If there are more than two schools in a MAT, or three entities, I would suggest going nowhere other than IMP Software. Their system is proven in terms of delivery. I have listened to demonstrations of others during procurement, and I would have to wait around for things being promised. IMP Software is here and ready to go now – it is an easy choice.”
Prince Regent Street Trust is now embarking on the next phase of its growth and Ryan said the “consistency” of IMP Planner would continue to make it a key enabling system. “We have set ourselves up, created an identity, and in the next three years we want to add at least three new schools,” he explained. “As schools join the Trust we can see the immediate impact on IMP Planner. No manual changes are needed, we have pre-set metrics to go in, and during the huge due diligence phase we will be able to view payroll and pupil number projections. IMP gives you piece of mind with everything in one place and the knowledge that if an error is made it can be easily rectified. Renewal is a success measure and, frankly, if IMP was an annual renewal, we would be doing that straight away.”
Case study developed: March 2022