Helping you tackle the DfE’s standard chart of accounts

Financial managers will be anxiously aware of the DfE’s move towards implementing a standard chart of accounts. Key to the Better Financial Reporting programme, Stuart Wild from software company, Hoge 100 explains the challenges it presents and how they are working with the DfE to help their customers.

I want to help you benefit from the Better Financial Reporting programme. To that end, I’ll explain what it means for your software. I’ll also explain how we’re working with the DfE to help our Dimensions for Academies customers embrace the standard chart of accounts - without compromising their internal accounting needs.

Better Financial Reporting explained

The DfE launched the Better Financial Reporting programme in May 2019. Looking to improve the burden of financial reporting for academy trusts, it introduced a standard chart of accounts. With hundreds of new six-digit codes, the aim is standardised reporting.

Consolidating data in so many formats has been a constant challenge for the DfE. Furthermore, trusts have battled with differing sets of codes, labouring for (too many) hours trying to manually deliver what the DfE wants. Neither party welcomed the annual task.

The new chart of accounts will ultimately make reporting more streamlined, reduce academy trust workload, and provide more meaningful financial insights.

But in the short-term, many finance departments fear a big headache.

The DfE is encouraging trusts to adopt the standard chart of accounts within their finance systems. But some software vendors cannot accommodate a six-digit code; they have to create a workaround or re-write. And some academies would never use many of the new codes.

The DfE and academies can differ on their reporting focus too. For example, the DfE requires a single figure for educational supplies. But some academies might want to break this down by type, at the very least.

The first voluntary submissions using the new chart of accounts are imminent. Yet, many trusts still feel confused on the best route forward. Should they try and incorporate the new codes, or is there another way? That’s why we’ve built flexibility for Dimensions for Academies users.

Working with the DfE to give you an easier transition

As a specialist finance software provider for trusts, we’ve worked closely with the DfE on this project. Involving a small group using our Dimensions for Academies software, we’ve built intuitive tools to provide an easier transition and faster submissions for our customers.

Firstly, I’ll dispel a myth. Whilst you can incorporate the standard chart of accounts into your finance system, you don’t have to. It’s only a recommendation and there is another way that the DfE is perfectly happy with. If you run Dimensions for Academies, you have a choice.

If a Dimensions user wants to incorporate the DfE codes into their software, they can do that. With a character limit of 25, it’s possible to do so quite easily.

Alternatively, using our Excel Integration, our customers can create a one-time mapping for their own financial codes to the standard chart of accounts codes. This can be completed by finance teams or auditors.

Linking Dimensions for Academies to Microsoft Excel, we export your current codes into Excel, ready to map against the new DfE codes. Once complete, we insert the mapping back into Dimensions for Academies.

When a trial balance is required for the DfE, your codes will automatically map to the assigned DfE codes in an instant. Meanwhile, you’ll continue working with your own codes in-house. And you’ll avoid the end-of-year DfE reporting headache that consumes so much time. Better still, this automation eliminates errors due to manual entry.

If a Dimensions user still wants to incorporate the DfE codes into their software, they have that choice too. With a character limit of 25, it’s possible to do so quite easily.

Using the DfE API for fast submissions

Our work with the DfE doesn’t stop there. We’ve written software that uploads your data to the DfE API.

Using our Finance Portal, you’ll submit your data, auto-filling about 65% of the AAR form. This data can then be downloaded for completion. When you’re ready, you’ll submit your full return. Should subsequent changes be necessary, that’s no problem. You’ll just need to re-submit your data to overlay the existing figures.

The key point is this: you’ll save an incredible amount of work and prevent human error by using this automated API.

Our work with the DfE will ultimately enable automatic submission of the Budget Forecast Return (BFR), the Budget Forecast Return Outturn (BFRO), and the Counterparty Report too.

Want to learn more?

A provider of professional finance systems with bespoke functionality for academies, our software does exactly what you need it to do; quickly and intuitively. We also have a reputation for excellent human support, provided exactly when you need it.

If you’d like to learn more about Dimensions for Academies, please get in touch to arrange a demonstration or visit our website.

01905 947257