Background
Established in 2001, Coast & Country Housing is the largest registered provider in Redcar and Cleveland, owning and managing over 10,000 homes. It has an ambitious development programme which includes homes for rent, homes for sale and shared ownership solutions.

Business Requirement
Essentially Coast & Country had outgrown its original Chart of Accounts. Pam Guest, Financial Planning Manager for Coast & Country explains: “We had expanded into Regeneration and Development with numerous restructures and now had different information needs. The original chart was designed prior to transfer from the Local Authority in 2002 with no real knowledge of the future requirements of a Housing Association. It therefore became apparent flexibility to develop a group structure for the future was required.”

“Our existing coding structure restricted the ability to issue new codes, both cost codes and expense codes. Many of our codes were of the same type (e.g. Electricity, Gas, Salaries).
Our old Chart of Accounts held a separate set of codes for the Property Maintenance Division to that of the rest of the organisation and was not lending itself to easy accounting analysis without the extensive use of Analysis Codes.”

“We were happy with OpenAccounts as a total Financial Management solution as it has proven to be a very stable and functional system. The integration between OpenAccounts and our Housing Management system, Orchard Housing, works well and we recognised the coding structure was causing the problems, not OpenAccounts. As a result, there was no real consideration to change OpenAccounts for another system. We recognised that implementing the Project Ledger modules would provide greater detailed analysis without a significant increase in the GL codes required.”

Benefits
Coast & Country now has a simpler and more flexible Chart of Accounts incorporating internal departmental restructures and potential group company structure with one expense code per expense type. In addition, it has enabled:

  • A much improved level of detailed information due to better defined account codes and an operational Project Ledger
  • Less queries in Finance as budget holders bought into and understand the coding required and therefore have less uncoded invoices returned
  • Minimising the impact on the General Ledger by holding a greater level of detail for projects outside of it
  • Elimination of 300+ expense codes, delivering a more usable Chart of Accounts
  • Reporting at estate level with flexibility to increase with new development properties coming on stream
  • Time and effort to be saved in Finance, on a day-to-day level, due to a major reduction in invoice-coding errors.

Significantly, the benefit of a simplified Chart of Accounts is widely understood throughout the business.