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Why MATs with a centralised finance function see better ROI from edtech

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All multi-academy trusts (MATs) seek efficiencies when procuring new academy tech, regardless of the model they operate. However, some MATs are more financially efficient than others, which can enable them to get even more value from their investment.

In the 2018 Academies Benchmark Report, accountants James Cowper Kreston revealed that the more centralised your financial management system, the more likely your MAT is to outperform the competition in financial terms. Centralisation enables MATs to oversee budgets across the trust, analyse their cost base and really leverage their buying power—particularly when it comes to procuring edtech.

Here are 6 more ways MATs with a centralised finance function can really get the most from their academy edtech:

1. Consolidate your edtech supplier

Choosing just one trusted edtech partner brings many of the same benefits as a centralised finance function: consolidated spend, greater economies of scale, consistency and a single dedicated resource to manage any issues. Put simply, you can get a more efficient, cost-effective service by sticking to a single supplier compared to managing multiple competing solutions providers. It is also a good idea to leverage any direct manufacturer relationships, to make commercial gains.

2. Use the same devices across the trust

Purchasing centrally gives MATs full insight on the lifecycle of compatible devices across their academies. This allows them to identify which hardware can be upgraded rather than replaced, and where devices can be redeployed to maximise their use. Deploying common devices reduces the need for additional training and enables staff to move freely between academies, confident they can operate the same solutions wherever they go.

3. Ensure the academy tech supports your strategic goals

Focus on edtech your academies will actually use. Will it support pupils’ needs and the curriculum? Will it help teachers’ manage their workloads more efficiently? This is true for all schools, not just MATs with centralised finance—but it’s particularly important when deciding whether to invest in edtech that will be rolled out across the entire trust. With so many potential users there is an opportunity to get a great deal, provided you invest in solutions that have the potential to make a real difference to teachers and pupils.

Looking for a good example? Interactive front-of-class displays, like the Promethean ActivPanel, offer long term value for MATs. They engage students and make life easier for teachers with features like device mirroring, instant polling and assessment tools. Interactive front-of-class displays can also be constantly upgraded to ensure your MAT remains up-to-date with the latest technology.

4. Oversee software licensing

Software can often come with hidden licensing fees. For MATs, it’s easier to monitor these license costs and software usage centrally. This enables MATs to identify where academy tech is underutilised and redeploy it where it’s most needed, rather than purchasing new licenses. There’s also the option to enter into a sponsorship arrangement to access the latest software at an even more competitive cost.

5. Centrally manage online safety

Efficiency and cost-saving are important. But so is safety. There are lots of software providers that allow MATs to manage their portfolio centrally, so it makes sense to factor in online safety and safeguarding technologies. SafetyNet, for example, is an internet filtering solution that allows your IT team to manage online safety policies from one account, across all academies.

6. Train your staff

This last point is true whether your finance function is centralised or not. But it’s worth remembering that the only way to get the most out of your investment is to ensure that teachers use it. MATs should provide full training for all tech while effectively communicating its benefits to get staff buy-in. Of course, negotiating a deal with a single edtech supplier means they are more likely to offer better support.
MATs with a centralised finance function are already in a good place to save money and boost efficiency. By using their increased buying power and built-in economies of scale—and investing in the right academy tech—they can get even more ROI.

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