The Lion Academy Trust has a strong track record in school transformation and improvement, and a reputation for high performing schools working together under its banner of ‘collaborative autonomy’.

This concept stems from research which suggests that sustainable school improvement comes from the support and challenge you get while collaborating with other schools and external partners. This creates the foundations of great practice as it enables you to create a culture where you consistently look to improve from within and seek outwards for inspiration to constantly improve.

This belief, that schools work better together in collaboration than isolation, is reflected in the way we pool thinking and resources to provide strategic expertise across Finance, HR, CPD, and IT. We’d like to share the story of how we’ve found a way to help all our finance, personnel and business managers – as well as auditors – manage multiple assets across multiple schools, effortlessly.

Our asset management scene left us ‘exposed’ to extra auditor costs

Like many Trusts, our challenge was multiple academies each recording their assets in different ways; Notebook/paper, Excel spreadsheet, SIMS Equipment Register and various other databases. In addition to this, ICT departments recorded their assets in different ways to finance and other departments.

With no standardised way of recording assets across the Trust, there could be no set reporting for our auditors at year end. This meant leaving us open to extra auditor costs and last minute asset audits from each academy in a bid to get data together for end of financial year deadlines.

The solution needed to be easy to use by all levels of staff

Academy Asset Manager from Parago came recommended to us from a trusted service partner. It was critical to the Trust that the asset management system we chose would be adopted by ALL our academies. For this to happen, the system needed to be easy to use by all levels of staff, and meet all our internal and auditor requirements.

Everyone was immediately taken by the system interface, which shows a virtual image of each academy within the Trust, including buildings and actual rooms with a clear view of the assets inside. It was very clear that Parago have taken time to research and work with the education sector to gain a remarkable understanding of our needs. All finance personnel and business managers across our academies are using Academy Asset Manager and their feedback to date has been very encouraging. Our technicians are happy because they can easily move assets on the system with Parago Mobile ‘as it happens’, ensuring everyone is confident that ICT assets are exactly where shown. This really makes everyone’s job easier, and reports really do reflect our asset estate view. Our academies can now make ‘informed’ procurement decisions and we are confident that we are producing accurate auditor reports.

A system that meets both current and future requirements

Our academy base will continue to grow over the next few years, and it is important to know that the systems we are choosing will meet our current and future requirements. The Trust Account Manager Module in particular, will extend the benefits that our individual academies can use under the Trust umbrella. We are now able to produce reports for future procurement across all our academies; which puts us in a strong position when negotiating better prices with suppliers of ICT, furniture and other academic assets. The search feature provides us with an umbrella picture that shows all our assets across all our academies. So academies looking to purchase high cost assets can check whether assets are available elsewhere across the Trust before purchasing.

We wanted a ‘true’ asset estate valuation – not just bar coding

As is the case with all academies and trusts, we are short on resources when it comes to implementing new management systems. Our primary and secondary academies have thousands of legacy assets, and to add all of these to a new system would have taken weeks – or even months. We wanted values on assets and rooms, rather than just bar coding each item, so we had a true asset estate valuation for insurance and auditors. The Parago auditors took care of everything, to the point that the individual academies hardly noticed they were there. We have ongoing training courses planned, which Parago will accommodate within our business manager or ICT meetings.

Providing value now… and future advantages

The Parago Parago Academy Asset Manager system has other features which we will take advantage of in the future. These including monitoring usage of the software we purchase, plus managing and alerting us to contract renewals and facility maintenance. These will help us achieve value for money in many other ways other than just fixed and mobile asset management.

We are very pleased with our investment in Parago to date, and would recommend it highly to our sector colleagues.

Joanne Littman, Relationship, Networks & Operations Manager, Lion Academy Trust

Parago have been at the forefront of developing specialist asset management systems for education since 2006. Life is complicated enough, so our mission is to provide busy managers with user friendly, intuitive and cost effective software services that don’t require a degree in rocket science to use. Parago software powers education platforms for Academy Asset Manager, School Inventory Manager, Cloud Asset Manager as well as insurance sector platforms such as Keyasset and Readyclaim.

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