Purchasing & Accounts Payable Management Software for Education

Northwood Schools runs four interconnected independent schools and employs about 200 people. Together, the schools serve more than 3,000 students in various grades and day school settings. In addition to providing traditional academics, the schools offer numerous extracurricular opportunities in athletics, the arts, and community involvement.

PLANERGY was especially appealing as an education spending software for Northwood Schools because of the reporting features that give senior administrators better visibility of spending within the departments. By having access to view all school purchasing activities within the organization, leaders make better decisions about budgeting, and accounting is easier.

Key Challenges

Key Benefits

The Story


Independent school group, in multiple locations

Key client

Finance Manager



Company Size

200 employees


Documentation of spending was a main problem for this school group. No one seemed to know how much money was being spent throughout the organization, or what exactly was being purchased. Any existing records were kept by individual departments in various manual systems, such as Excel, or even just plain old paper files. They needed a better school budgeting system

In many cases, teachers and secretaries were authorized to make purchases, but because there was no education spending software in place, there was little oversight into what they were buying or how much the supplies cost, especially at the upper administrative levels. Additionally, nearly every person at the organization saw purchasing as a burden. Tracking down documentation for a purchase once the bill showed up was a headache, as was getting pen-and-paper sign off from the right authority when a larger purchase needed to be made.

Often, employees relied on vendors’ records to track orders and invoices. And, since there was no consistent purchasing data — not to mention no centralized spending management system—budgeting usually happened after the fact when an invoice showed up in the accounting department’s inbox. The lack of a paper trail often led people in the accounting department to resort to cutting corners when it came to bookkeeping.

School leaders had two goals in mind: first, they wanted an education spending software that gave them the ability to see current information about who was spending what. Even in circumstances where no budget restriction existed, they simply wanted accurate and up-to-date details about purchases across the organization. Second, they wanted a faster way to approve purchases when necessary.

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Today, certain administrators have full visibility into what front-line employees buy without having to wrest control of the process. Within seconds of pulling up a simple report, they see school purchasing histories across the board, at the department level, or even at the individual level. They can then compare these details to set budgets and make changes as needed.

Individual department leaders have access to view their own department budget and spending data, but not that of others. Armed with this information, they make smart decisions about what books, school supplies, or classroom furniture they should buy.

When someone is making a large purchase that requires sign-off from someone higher up the ladder, PLANERGY’s approvals feature saves time for everyone involved. With the simple click of a mouse, a request is sent via email to the appropriate person, who, in turn, approves or rejects the request just as easily. Additionally, PLANERGY centralizes education purchasing information for the four physically-separated schools, so there are no inconveniences when a person needs permission from someone at a different location.

The accounting department’s workflows have improved dramatically. With access to view what orders have been placed, as well as the status of those orders, the accounts payable team no longer must guess if something has yet been paid or which GL code to assign a purchase. Three-way matching is accurate and effective, as every invoice is compared with the original order and delivery to ensure precision in payment. In addition, PLANERGY integrates with the organization’s SAGE 200 software, so accounting data is always exact, and no one wastes time manually entering information into two education management systems.

When PLANERGY was implemented, employees were happy to have the new tool available to them as it made their day-to-day work easier and faster. The schools started with 50 PLANERGY licenses, and later expanded to 100 because of how well it worked as an education purchasing management system for their people.


“Within seconds we can pull a simple report to see school purchasing histories across our schools, at the department level, or even at the individual level.”

Northwood Schools Logo

Donald Freeman

Finance Manager

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