Moving Finance to the Cloud – Isle of Wight College
During the summer of 2012, the college started the process to move its
current finance system into the cloud. The key drivers for this move were:
Reduced hardware costs compared to the in-house system
Software updates would be installed as soon as they were available as opposed
to having to wait until a consultant was free.
Reduced consultancy costs which, due to our geographical location, are usually
A web-based solution would support the increasing trend of people using their
Increased availability for home workers
The initial test server was installed by the IT Team and a period of stress
testing of the new system took place to identify any key issues that
needed to be addressed. Unfortunately the Finance Team found that a
number of key issues relating to the Purchase Order authorization system
prevented the system from working correctly. This required a significant
amount of reprogramming by the consultants.
After a period of communications with the supplier and numerous tests,
the college was finally ready to ‘go live’ however, due to the proximity of
year end the decision was made to delay final deployment until the start of
the new college year; 12 months later than planned. The new system was
deployed overnight to prevent any data loss.
If you have a large number of records the system can be very slow to update
Some customer support issues can take a long time to resolve whereas we were
used to being able to do these in-house when needed.
We should have completed the training sessions much earlier. This would have
made the transition for some staff much easier but it would also have identified a
number of issues before the system was made live.
The project has been completed at the busiest time for our finance staff and this
has made it difficult for them to answer queries etc.
The system has been deployed across the campus with minimal disruption.
Most staff are now using the web version, albeit probably not to its full potential.
System downtime has been reduced.
We no longer require a consultant to visit when major changes are needed.
The new system provides much more information to budget holders than the
previous system did
The ordering system is much easier to use and is available at anytime and
The ‘cloud based’ system provided two interfaces, one for finance staff and one for
finance users. It was found that the ‘classic’ mode was very similar to the original
and virtually no training was required for the finance staff. However, as the classic
mode is easily available, college staff will use this version unless they are given
specific training. Those who have completed the training have found the web version
much easier to use.
“We have already had a full system upgrade and I am sure that most staff did
Once the project was completed, the team met to take a reflective look at the
planning stage of the project to see which processes needed improvement. It was
concluded that more detail at the planning stage would have helped with the
1. An allowance of more time to test the product thoroughly before
implementation would have ensured a smoother roll out.
2. A wider range of staff needed to be engaged in project planning from the
3. A programme of comprehensive training sessions using the test environment
as part of the project plan would have removed some of the smaller issues
Estimated Cost Savings
Deployment of dashboards
Many staff have found the system simpler to use, but find it frustrating that
some functions are not yet available.
The ability to export directly to Excel has made the production of reports a
far easier process than it was and a purchase order can now be completed
in less than 2 minutes.
We are still experiencing the issues with Java versions but these are
being dealt with by the support desk. Symmetry have arranged weekly
telephone calls to ensure that things are progressing.
We now have 120 users on the system and additional training sessions
are being planned to help bring all users up to speed. Overall, the project
has largely been a success but further development is still required.