Advanced Business Solutions software helps improve financial management at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT) has transformed its financial management and planning processes with software from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced), as part of the 'Building World Class Finance Programme'. ICHT launched the programme in September 2011 to turnaround a significant financial deficit and support the Trust's application for NHS Foundation Trust status.

A key part of the programme relates to transformation of the budgeting and forecasting process supported by the implementation of Advanced's budgeting and forecasting software, Collaborative Planning, which will be rolled out to 250 service managers by April 2014. This follows a successful pilot earlier this year, where the solution was trialled by 80 finance and service managers. The software is fully integrated with eFinancials the market leading financial management system for the NHS implemented in 2007 by Advanced.

Advanced's financial management software is central to a programme of major improvements, which the Trust introduced after identifying a £30M deficit five months into its 2011- 2012 financial year. Prior to launching the initiative the Trust had identified an urgent need to standardise its processes. Previously, forecasts were produced by multiple departments throughout the organisation using spreadsheets.

The Trust recognised that to improve engagement, accuracy and visibility, they needed to provide managers with real-time access to a single software application.

Neil Callow, Deputy Director of Finance – Business Partnering, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust says: "Collaborative Planning is key to enabling the Trust to control the preparation, monitoring and updating of forecasts.

"We needed to move away from the traditional NHS model, where budgets were set centrally. Previously all budgets were created solely by the finance department and we  wanted to empower clinical service managers to generate forecasts themselves. The software enables finance and clinical service managers to collaborate in order to create more accurate forecasts.

"The Trust has also been able to consolidate records quickly which has facilitated greater consistency in our reporting and has reduced the risk of errors and duplications. Financial staff, service managers and the Board all have far greater visibility of budgets and forecasts and can also create re-forecasts instantly when circumstances change.

ICHT is now using Collaborative Planning to create highly detailed 36 month rolling forecasts, enabling the organisation to formulate long term financial plans. Each forecast is reviewed and updated every month and the ability to factor in changes alongside 'what if' scenarios means the Trust is in a much stronger position to plan and control its expenditure and budget allocation.

"Overall, Collaborative Planning gives us far greater control over every aspect of our financial planning and we are able to provide detailed information to all stakeholders and consolidated forecasts to our regulators. This is essential for all NHS trusts, so that they can remain as efficient as possible, especially in the current economic climate.

"We are particularly pleased with how the solution has engaged non-finance staff in the forecasting process which is fundamental to accurate financial planning and central to the on-going success of the 'Building World Class Finance Programme'  " concludes Callow.

With over 100 finance and service managers already using Collaborative Planning, ICHT is already en route to achieving its goals and radically improving its budgeting and forecasting processes which in turn have supported delivery of savings and improved financial performance.

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