University of Southampton Science Park (USSP) is the South of England’s innovation hub. Set across 72 acres, this innovative ecosystem empowers business at all stages of development; offering a wide range of commercial offices, laboratories, meeting and conferencing facilities for new start-ups and leading technology businesses.
Vicki [Finance Director] and Maureen [Management Accountant] were dealing with a clunky system, using a legacy system that took up substantial amounts of time and was no longer fit for purpose.
With limited flexibility, they were unable to extract management information from the system. They were looking for a solution that enabled their managers to self-serve and to interrogate their own numbers, rather than repetitively asking the Finance Director for time consuming reports and data. Vicki explained, “we also wanted controls on expenditures and purchase orders. Our software provider at the time couldn’t do that. Everything was very manual, like our bank payments, which was hugely time consuming.”
The growth and scaling of the business was an exciting opportunity faced by Vicki and Maureen, which presented them with “lots of new income streams, which our current system couldn’t cope with.” It was clear that the volume of transactions and invoices was becoming unmanageable. As a growing business, USSP decided it was time to look for a more advanced mid-market finance system.
As Finance Director, Vicki led the project with support from Maureen. Being a system that many others in the business would use, Vicki knew it was essential to involve other key stakeholders, including the CEO, Conferencing Manager and the Catering Manager.
Vicki and Maureen had very clear requirements for a new finance system: “We began by attending an open day organised by Evelyn Partners [previously Smith & Williamson]. The event had a few different accounting systems, including BACS to purchasing. Xledger was one of the finance providers there, and after hearing a synopsis and seeing the system on a screen, we were impressed.”
What followed was a further conversation with Evelyn Partners engaging with them to review all our internal processes and from that review several accounting packages; which led to a recommendation.
Vicki highlighted that Xledger being a true cloud software product was a great benefit, removing their previous reliance on servers Xledger’s digital drag-and-drop invoicing and built-in OCR was a huge benefit, migrating the organisation from its paper-based system to a now paperless office.
With true cloud, USSP knew they would have a much more reliable system, 24/7, from any location. Maureen adds, “I’ve just been able to go to Australia, to visit family and work from there”.
The Xledger Journey
Vicki and Maureen completed the full implementation process virtually, with Covid 19 on the rise shortly after selecting Xledger as their new finance provider. With lots of data that needed migration, there was a huge volume to contend with. “We were importing income from three systems: the coffee shop tills, meetings and conference bookings, as well as outsourced rent and services. They all needed migration for MTD compliance. Your consultants Mike and Alastair were brilliant, both excellent with helping us implement and in training. Mike spent time building and formatting some incredibly useful and technical Excel templates for me so I could build the data myself. There’s no way we would’ve managed this ourselves.”
Engaging the wider team
“Before implementing Xledger, managing the finance system was just down to the finance team. Now, our Conferencing Manager and Catering Manager, use it, as well as our CEO and Operations Director, who all really appreciate it. They have the information they need without asking us. When they’re looking for, sales information, a credit note or authorisation of purchase orders, for example, Maureen and I don’t have to manually complete or approve it, that’s the joy of Xledger!”
Getting ready for go-live
It was paramount for Vicki and Maureen that the system went live before year-end July 2021. To achieve this, Xledger implemented the system from January – March across three stages: designing the system, building and training. “Your consultant was helpful guiding us through the processes, and your project manager kept us on track. We found the training very comprehensive.”
USSP’s experience of Support began in the final phase of their Implementation, Hypercare. The augmented support level meant that in the critical Go Live stage, the support was there at the right level at the right time.
“We had worked so closely with our consultant and didn’t want to lose her.” She knew us and had been on this journey with us from the start. Hypercare was great though! It felt like an extension of implementation really, there was lots of continuity.”
“I sent them some questions on some of the basics, such as struggling to drag and drop invoices. They said you need to do it in pre-journal List and not in Journal Entry List. They have been really responsive, we had replies from email support quite swiftly. We also had the occasional Teams call when issues were more complicated.
“Jordan was fantastic at calling and chatting”. Recently, the team helped with a more urgent issue, “we needed a VAT return immediately. Tim responded and explained how to do it. However, he also provided the file for me – as he knew it was time critical.”
What tangible results have you seen from implementing Xledger’s software?
“The BACS run is a big improvement” explains Maureen, “it processes things so much quicker.” This was one example of the added efficiency that both Vicki and Maureen reiterated as a key benefit. “Our year-end is 31st July. We’re able to respond and pull up invoices easily along with the audit trail. That’s a huge benefit as we don’t have to dig through old paper files. We can also give auditors access to the system if they want.”
Producing management accounts is now “much, much quicker. Year-end processes are also much smoother. Bearing in mind we’d only been live a few months, it’s still so much quicker than last year.” Vicki continued that the system has enabled the organisation’s continued growth, which “we wouldn’t have been able to do before. We would’ve had to recruit extra people to do manual tasks, while simultaneously getting less work done, due to volume of invoices.”
USSP has also gained cost savings by not storing any physical materials. “We are completely paperless. If it comes in, it’s scanned and saved.”
In the time USSP has been using Xledger, what key benefits have you seen?
Purchase and invoicing
“It has exceeded our expectations, especially from the purchase and invoice side of things. It’s made things so much speedier – love the recurring sales invoices.”
“We like that we can contact support regularly with queries, still very responsive even through we’re not in hypercare. It’s normally the same day, often within hour or two. Very good.”
Vicki explained how the ability to “see detail behind all income streams, and seamlessly get data into the system has huge benefits. We can drill down into a high level of detail”. This insight, she continued, would not have been possible with their previous provider.
“Now, our payments take less than 30mins. It was 2 days before, as I had to raise a payment for every invoice. Vicki would then have to login to the bank and approve everything. Having a payment run all in one place has been incredibly helpful,” explains Maureen.
“With Xledger, we can handle increased transaction volume and multiple income streams. We can work out what we need, and then get support to help. We’ve also linked into MTD. We wouldn’t have been able to do MTD compliance on our old system.”
Since this interview, Xledger invited Vicki and Maureen to the Bristol office for our first in-person training, using a consultative approach to help USSP utilise the system to its best advantage. We look forward to continuing this partnership.
To get in touch with Xledger, click here.
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