Chatsworth Schools improved reporting functionality with Sage for Education

A Customer Success Story

Sage for Education


Established in 2013, Advanced Propulsion Centre UK (APC) is a joint venture between the UK Government and the automotive industry providing guidance, funding and insight to the UK automotive industry – helping them to migrate towards a cleaner, net-zero future.

APC ensure that the UK remains competitive in the research, development and production of low carbon propulsion technologies, safeguarding or creating jobs and reducing harmful emissions to meet 2050 targets. They support collaborative projects run by other businesses in the automotive industry, providing opportunities and connections that bring low-emissions technology to market. APC are driven by a commitment to promoting environmental and social wellbeing, both on a local and national scale.

The Challenge

Since their creation, APC have been using Sage 50 as their core financial system. This worked well when the business was smaller, but with ambitious growth plans and a sizable turnover APC needed a robust, scalable system that would support the business as it continues to grow. They required a high level of financial control, enhanced security and strong analytical and real-time reporting capabilities along with the flexibility that comes with a true cloud financial system.

Prior to contacting Solutions, APC found that reporting tasks such as month end were taking an average of 10 days a month. This was not only inefficient but also became a large drain on resources. Access to data and lengthy report deliveries cost the organisation time and money; manual processing placed a huge burden on the finance team who spent continuous hours working on monotonous and repetitive tasks. They were heavily reliant on Excel, having to export data from Sage 50 and manipulate it into Excel reports for internal and external stakeholders; it was clear that there was a need for real-time dashboards. As the company receives government grants, it is imperative that APC can report on exactly how and when the funding has been spent.

Instead of the single tier chart of accounts within Sage 50, APC wanted the ability to structure their accounts over multiple tiers adding not only granularity to their reporting, but also the ability to slice their data in different ways.

Another key driving factor for a new system was the need to deliver greater confidence in data integrity with the ability to drill down from any report to the original transactions. As a not-for-profit organisation, the finance team is lean so there was a need to improve and automate back-office processes to gain rich visibility into the data.

Finally, the solution needed to not only be GAAP accounting compliant but also able to handle project accounting providing options for project management.

Solutions Approach

After a consultation exercise with APC, Solutions’ Tim Venables was confident that Sage Intacct was the right solution to match their requirements, and one that would support them as they continued to grow. Along with sorting many of their other requirements, Doug Erskine, Finance Consultant at APC was confident that Sage Intacct would meet and surpass their reporting needs as well as providing the true cloud flexibility they desired.

“In our initial consultation, one of the things that really impressed us was that Tim took the time to properly understand our business. The whole session was designed to find out about APC, what we wanted from a system, where we were heading, and our current frustrations. This was all taken on board, and we were provided with a tailored demonstration explaining how our issues could be overcome with Sage Intacct. This was a welcome but unique approach for us, having spoken with other system providers that didn’t take the time to understand our business or tailor the experience to our processes. We really felt like Solutions understood us which provided a really good impression from the outset. It was also clear that Solutions had a strong relationship with Sage which was important to us.”

Doug Erskine, Finance Consultant at Advanced Propulsion Centre

As mentioned, the key hurdle that APC were experiencing with Sage 50 was its lack of reporting capabilities. Sage Intacct’s real-time reporting with rich interactive Dashboards eradicates the need to build new reports each month. With different viewpoints real-time information is presented to users with the ability to drill down for more clarity, eliminating the need for data to be manipulated within spreadsheets.

With the heavy reliance on Excel Spreadsheets throughout the business, manual checks on the data to ensure accuracy and integrity were paramount but a huge drain on resources. This lack of real time visibility created uncertainty around its validity, but also delayed the information arriving at its destinations and as a result, decisions were often based on outdated or older versions of reports. Sage Intacct would solve the issue of data delivery by providing rich real-time dashboards that offer insight to anyone in the organisation via a web browser. This would eradicate departmental dependency on a small number of the finance team to build the reports, empowering stakeholders to make more informed business decisions.

It is important for APC to track the Government grants they receive and account for how the money has been spent. With Sage Intacct’s dimensional accounting approach, APC would be able to conduct analysis within the system in ways that were not possible with a typical chart of accounts. Not only are the dimensions already built into the reporting tools, but they can also be customised based on the organisation’s needs, which would give the company the power to track grants as well as group, sort, filter, and expand data visually. The multi-dimensional architecture would also allow for ‘tagging’ transactions – multi-dimensional data points that can be easily reported on.

APC had an aggressive implementation timetable and from signing the contract, wanted to be live within three months, ready for their new financial year. Thanks to the strong relationship built between Solutions and APC, and the Project Management and communication skills of Solutions’, Anna Root, reaching this deadline was possible with fully remote implementation and training. Anna worked closely with Doug Erskine, Finance Consultant at APC, using a ‘train the trainer’ approach. Doug was coached through a series of collaborative 1-2-1 sessions which were carried out remotely. Following this, Doug then went on to train more members of the finance team at APC, again through a series of 1-2-1 sessions.

“Doug took the online Fundamentals course provided by Sage Intacct and then we scheduled several 1-2-1 sessions to cover more complex areas together. The teamwork between APC and Solutions was second to none.

I asked Doug to map out how he would like areas of the system to work and I configured the system and then demonstrated how it could work for APC. We were extremely thorough in our approach for approvals; we created various users with varying levels of system access and then proceeded to process transactions to prove the processes worked as required.

A payment run was also processed from end to end and imported into the banking software so that the payment could be seen in practice from the bank and the allocation made within Sage Intacct. Finally, we looked together at the bank feeds once this was set up live in the system, ensuring Doug knew how this was intended to work with the bank reconciliation.”

Anna Root, Sage Intacct Implementation Consultant at Solutions for Accounting.

The Outcome

Following a successful migration to the new system where their aspirational go live date was met, APC are now able to embrace the extensive features and functions of a more capable system. With Sage Intacct in place, they have already reduced the time it takes to complete month end reporting by 50% and no longer have a need for spreadsheets as all reports are accessible in real-time using dashboards and dimensions that have been specifically set up for the company’s reporting focuses. Payment runs are likewise significantly quicker now, having been reduced by one third.

“Meeting the deadline of the 1st April was made possible thanks to Anna and her strong project management skills. The project has been a collaborative undertaking and Anna was very clear in terms of the input she needed from us, and that just made it very straightforward. It was a very open relationship with good lines of communication.”

Doug Erskine, Finance Consultant at Advanced Propulsion Centre

Since implementation, Sage Intacct has helped APC in their aim to become paperless and operate solely on a true cloud system. Purchase Orders and Supplier Invoices are all digitally logged within the system and as a result there is no longer a need for hard copies of these documents.
On top of this, the importing of Sales invoices has also saved a significant amount of time as the company no longer need to key in all of the information manually.

Thanks to Sage Intacct’s powerful reporting tools, APC stakeholders are now able to easily access reports each month at the click of a button without having to create them from scratch. Each report is broken down by resource, expenditure and overheads, providing the Government with proof of how each grant has/ is being spent.

To find out how our software experts can help give you complete control over your business with Sage Intacct, call us today on 0115 840 5075 or email