Finance transformation in a charitable business

We spoke with Chris Wells, Chartered Accountant with the Loddon Foundation to find out how Lightyear is adding value to their charitable education business. 

Chris Wells

Lead Partner Hospitality Division

What is your business, why is it awesome?

The Loddon Foundation is a registered Charity established to educate, treat and care for children and young people with severe behavioral and learning disabilities.  The school does this by running a school based on a curriculum that anticipates crisis and solves them using techniques which do not require physical intervention. It promotes the use of these techniques throughout the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland by running training courses which are open to all those involved in the education and care of those with learning difficulties. Our founder established the school some 31 years ago and was honored by the queen with an MBE. The Foundation is truly awesome.

How did you hear about Lightyear?

The Foundation used traditional accounting systems which were only used by a handful of accounting staff. As the Foundation has grown we wanted to introduce proper systems of accountability and visibility of the accounting to the staff responsible for each area of activity in the Foundation. A new cloud-based accounting system, Xero was purchased, and Xero recommended Invitbox (the forerunner to Lightyear).

What was your AP Process before implementing Lightyear and what were the biggest pain points you had in your process?

Before Lightyear, invoices went to the front office, were logged and sent to the accounting department where they were coded and frequently paid without reference to the budget holders and those involved in running the Foundation. 

What was the Aha moment that prompted you to change to Lightyear for AP automation?

The need to involve all the budget holders in setting budgets, approving expenditures and then managing their budgets. We needed to inculcate a modern financial outlook throughout the Foundation. 

How has Lightyear changed how you process payables bills?

The transformation has been fantastic! We no longer code each invoice manually, file invoices in alphabetical order and then search paper files to find information, we just look up the invoices from the screen via Xero to Lightyear, all the users are sent the invoices electronically and are aware of what is being spent. There is full knowledge and accountability for expenditure throughout the Foundation. 

The system is water tight – paperwork is monitored, and invoices and documents no longer get lost around the Foundation.

What are your favorite features within Lightyear?

  • Total visibility of a transaction 
  • Consistent coding of invoices 
  • Speed of looking up invoices from the accounting system. 
  • No paper files of invoices clogging up the office.

How much time does Lightyear save your team per week?

We estimate we saved half a person’s effort in a team of two at the time the system was introduced. In practice the time has been applied to better reporting and allowed the Accounting department to become involved in a wider range of activities within the Foundation which has improve financial awareness throughout the organization. 

How much money are you saving with Lightyear?

Approximately £10,000 per year. Most of the benefit of the system is intangible. It has allowed us to involve the whole organization in the financial running of the Foundation. 

How do you use the payables insights generated by Lightyear?

We annually choose 5 suppliers to tender to ensure our suppliers remain competitive. We use the archive to pull out the suppliers’ invoices to check on prices. Ten minutes with a spreadsheet not hours searching paper files.

What software’s do you use/integrate Lightyear with?

We use Xero which integrates seamlessly with Lightyear. 

What has been the biggest benefit of using Lightyear to you?

Visibility, simplicity, accountability and less paper. 

What would you say to someone to recommend Lightyear to them?

Fantastic system and I have persuaded a colleague in another company to adopt Lightyear after he saw our system in operation. One more on the way I think. 

Is there anything you’d like to add?

I have worked as Chartered Accountant for 40 years from the early days of computerized systems and this is most user friendly and best system I have ever used. Fantastic!