The Creative Education Trust is a non-profit educational charity currently consisting of eight secondary academies and four primary academies in the Midlands and East Norfolk.
With our unique approach to the curriculum using the concepts of design, we are at the national forefront of improvement in academic standards, in curricular innovation and staff development. We plan to expand the number of academies in the network to around 20 over the next two years.
With our planned growth, it became clear we needed a more effective way of managing our assets. The academies were using a mix of spreadsheets and registers, and we recognised the need for them all to work collaboratively with common reporting across the trust.
In the summer of 2014 we sent out tenders to the leading suppliers of asset management systems to education. We shortlisted three, and invited them in for presentations in early September. All three systems met the majority of our requirements, but it became clear by the end of the day that one system and supplier stood above the rest.
We realised that Academy Asset Manager from Parago could offer us so much more than we had first envisaged. It was clear that this was a system developed for academies, and their many years of working with schools had resulted in a very easy to use, yet accomplished, asset management solution. Rather than just manage our assets, we could encompass our premises and contracts management in one solution.
Parago also proved they were more forward-thinking than other companies by initiating links with the leading academy accounting solutions. The integration with PS Financials will save us countless hours in none duplication of data entry. The trust reporting module will also enable us to reduce time spent collating data for our auditors, and the customisable reporting module shows they spent time with auditors finding out what they required.
As with all trusts and academies we ensure that we deploy our limited resources effectively and so part of our requirement was for the supplier to undertake a major role in the implementation. This included adapting their service to our needs, and whilst Parago’s pre-sale presentation and consultancy was extremely professional, it seemed to promise a lot. We had to be confident they would steer us through the whole process, including project management and tagging, adding and valuing assets, leaving us with a system which delivered accurate estate valuations across the trust.
Using their own DBS checked, employed staff they completed the whole process across all our primary and secondary academies in eight days during term time.
We received nothing but praise from our academy staff, who were understandably concerned this may disrupt the school day.
With a comprehensive group training day, we are now up and running with our solution, and the enthusiasm from all academy users is very encouraging.
I rarely find myself being surprised by service that has gone beyond the expected, but Parago really have matched their sales pitch and promises. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to other academies and multi academy trusts.
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