Flexible Finance Managment Solution
Learn how A2Z deployed Zoho Finance to support CEG’s rapid growth.
Cambridge Education Group
The Cambridge Education Group came to A2Z Cloud Ltd. for help in deploying a scalable finance solution that would keep up with their rapid growth.
Cambridge Education Group (CEG) has been delivering academic, creative and English Language programmes since 1952, preparing thousands of students to progress onto the world’s leading universities.
CEG Digital, the newest division of CEG, was formed three years ago to focus on delivering part-time online degrees in partnership with selected UK universities. Courses are delivered to a global market on a flexible, blended learning basis using cutting-edge, tablet friendly technology and sector leading pedagogy.
CEG Digital’s vision is to become the world’s leading provider of online and blended higher education. They are currently partners with 5 universities and offer 17 online degrees to over 1000 students.
CEG knew that they needed a cloud based solution and that they couldn’t achieve what they wanted on SAGE. CEG Wanted a flexible modern solution and identified Zoho as a prime candidate.
CEG Came to A2Z Cloud for their expertise in the development and deployment of Zoho’s software and the two worked together to implement a flexible, scalable finance system.
“We were at a tipping point in the sector. Most universities had a digital or e-learning strategy, but they needed help to implement it. We knew we had the right business model to do that, but we had grown so quickly we didn’t yet have the back office infrastructure to keep up with demand. We needed to re-size, and we needed to do it quickly,”
CEG Digital have grown from three employees in 2016 to over 100 staff located across the world today. The speed of this growth trajectory has been unprecedented and exciting, but also challenging in terms of infrastructure. The IT systems CEG used, in particular, were adequate and robust for the first year of operation, but quickly had to be re-evaluated when it became clear they couldn’t scale as quickly as the rapidly expanding student body
One of the first systems they reassessed was their finance system which recorded payments students made for tuition fees.
CEG knew they needed a cloud based solution, and it wasn’t possible to build what they wanted using their existing Sage accounting platform. They wanted the flexibility of a modern API, the ability to customise branding for each university, and a portal where students could access accurate records of instalments they’d already paid and keep track of those still due
“Implementing a new finance system always has the potential to be complex and protracted,” Sharon says, “but in this case it just wasn’t.
The Senior Developers at A2Z worked remotely, but closely, with our Business Analyst in Cambridge. Within 6 months they had mapped out the business requirements, documented the process flow, built, tested and implemented the system. They were brilliant, honestly.”
CEG are now confident they have a robust system stack that meets their growing needs allowing them to focus their efforts on taking the business to the next stage of maturity.
“If you’re looking for a robust, modern finance system with a clean interface, that is relatively easy to implement. You can’t go wrong with Zoho Books.”
What Led CEG To A2Z Cloud & Zoho?
Zoho kept coming up in their research but they needed the expertise of a Zoho expert to help them refine their business requirements and match them to the functionality Zoho offered.
Enter A2Z and Dash Bunyan!
“We were at a tipping point in the sector. Most universities had a digital or e-learning strategy, but they needed help to implement it. We knew we had the right business model to do that, but we had grown so quickly we didn’t yet have the back office infrastructure to keep up with demand. We needed to re-size, and we needed to do it quickly,” says Chief Operating Officer Sharon MacDonald.
One of CEG’s early concerns was the integration between their CRM, Hubspot, and Zoho. A2Z Cloud solved this by creating middleware in Zoho Creator that automatically pushed the CRM data through to the billing stage.”
“A2ZCloud were very proactive at finding solutions to any issues we raised. The lead Developer, Dash, was outstanding. We gave him a problem, and he’d solved it within a few days. We didn’t have to explain things twice,” Sharon enthuses.
Dash replies “It was really nice to work with a client so ready to be involved. CEG gave us a lot of resources and constant interaction. They had a very well-defined idea of what they wanted. We can obviously work with clients to help define their wants or needs, but it’s much better if they have a good understanding themselves. Having a dedicated Business Analyst helped clarify lines of communication between the end users and our team, allowing us to focus on the development”.
When asked if she could imagine life without the A2Z Cloud developed system and Zoho Books now, Sharon answers “The short answer is No. We couldn’t have progressed the business any further without re-looking at our core IT systems. This could have been quite a daunting prospect, but A2Z took all the angst away.”
“Give Zoho Books and the A2ZCloud team serious consideration when you’re weighing up your IT options. There’s no need to overcomplicate things with larger, more complex systems if you’re a small to medium company.”
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