GLL, a charitable social enterprise, oversees the management of over 100 public leisure centres within London and South East England. Committed to providing leisure and fitness facilities at affordable prices, GLL is an employee-led charitable social enterprise that exists for the benefit of the community.
Aiming to get community members involved in healthier lifestyles, exercise and sport, the organisation is the largest leisure trust in the country. Employees buy shares and have voting rights. Awarded the prestigious Social Enterprise Mark, GLL reinvests financial surpluses that it generates into the communities where it operates; providing long-term benefits for its customers, employees and the communities themselves.
Growth is a constant at GLL; it has been steadily expanding, bringing additional centres under its leisure management umbrella. The growth and development in the network of centres GLL manages has resulted in tremendous increases in its finance operations and for its bank reconciliation workload in particular.
With daily reconciliation subject to constant increases in volume and a complex workflow from the increasing number of legacy systems in use, GLL’s previous reconciliation solution was faltering. GLL began a selection process – it couldn’t afford a hiatus in its reconciliation operations.
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Although growth was the background to GLL’s selection process, it didn’t divulge everything to the contenders presenting solutions, “We didn’t need a ‘big solution’ and we didn’t have the budget either,” says Sandra Smith, Head of Finance and Business Administration at GLL.
GLL invited a short-list of companies to demonstrate their systems at its Royal Arsenal headquarters in Woolwich. “Groupit was clearly a contender at the demonstrations,” says Marianne Howcroft, Management Accountant at GLL. “We knew that GLL’s operating environment can be a tough testing ground so one of our questions at the selection stage was, will we be able to break it and what happens when we do? We’d learnt that good support is vital, we wanted to make that a clear criteria and in our ultimate choice we’ve had excellent support” Marianne adds.
Aurum Solutions was invited to make a second-stage demonstration to allow GLL to pose in-depth questions and to show Groupit’s abilities in detail. The second stage meeting completed, GLL selected Groupit as the frontrunner. “Effectively there was another criteria,” says Sandra, “we needed to move fast, we could not afford a gap in reconciliation operations which, due to our existing system’s unreliability, was becoming a bigger and bigger threat. Aurum Solutions responded brilliantly and the time from the second meeting to installation of Groupit was only two weeks.”
Working with Tim Andrews from Aurum Solutions allowed GLL to quickly get on with creating the data import routines and develop initial matching rules. “I now create my own matching rules,” adds Marianne, “we found Groupit to be quite intuitive in the early days. The support from Tim really allowed us to make a flying start.”
"We found Groupit to be quite intuitive in the early days. The support from Tim really allowed us to make a flying start."Sandra Smith, Head of Finance and Business Administration - GLL
“Aurum Solutions has a very responsive support team,” says Sandra, “We’ve always had our ‘How do I?’ questions answered immediately and when we’ve needed it, the remote ‘dial-in’ support access has worked well.” Sandra adds: “in our early days we threw some impossible problems at Groupit, the support team understood what we were trying to do and was really effective in straightening things out. We learnt a lot from those instances which was good”. Any drawbacks? “There’s a lot the system can do, and that means there’s a lot of documentation which can appear daunting” says Sandra, after some thought.
“Our previous system needed large amounts of data to be manually formatted, Groupit just reads this data straight in. It adds to overall effectiveness and reconciliation no longer takes a whole day like it used to.”
Using Groupit has resulted in significant benefits for GLL: “Our previous system needed large amounts of data to be manually formatted,” says Marianne, “Groupit just reads this data straight in. It adds to overall effectiveness and reconciliation no longer takes a whole day like it used to.” There are further advantages for GLL in everyday operations: “loading data automatically not only speeds matters but also reduces the opportunities for errors or tampering, I know that data cannot be tampered with and we have the reassurance that the audit trail shows everything that is transacted on the system.”
Training further members of GLL’s reconciliation team has also gone well. “They found Groupit intuitive and picked it up very quickly” says Marianne, “I think it’s a great testament to Groupit that the team learnt how to become efficient quickly.”
"[The reconciliation team] found Groupit intuitive and picked it up very quickly."Sandra Smith, Head of Finance and Business Administration - GLL
Has using Groupit lived up to GLL’s expectations? “Yes, definitely,” says Sandra, “we just need more time to harness its ability further, we know there are areas where we can use its capacity to automate parts of our workflow which will save even more time.”
Asked to comment on overall value Sandra concludes: “Although Groupit wasn’t the cheapest software we looked at, its extra capability has paid off in terms of value for money. We know we can continue to grow with Groupit.”
Growing and developing are key for GLL. The organisation’s ambition is to be the benchmark for quality leisure services management within the public sector. Aurum Solutions is proud to have GLL as a customer and to be contributing towards achieving their ambitions.