Technology & Innovation

Case studies: How your non-profit organization can boost its finance function

Finance teams are driving value for their organizations today and into the future—and they’re doing it through digital transformation and financial management modernization.  

Technology is an enabler. It’s a disruptor. And those organizations who view that as an opportunity can really get ahead of the curve.  

But there’s more to it than just technology—to achieve true digital transformation, a business needs to support the golden triangle of people, processes as well as tech. 

In a recent webcast called Gain the Power of Opportunity with Financial Management Modernization, Sage Canada shared the journeys of two finance leaders from Canadian organizations that recently underwent digital transformation and financial management modernization.  

The lessons learned from each of these professionals are valuable to anyone looking for opportunities to take their organization to the next level.  

Exponential growth forced a software change at AdaptAbilities  

Based in Edmonton, Alberta, AdaptAbilities is a non-profit organization that creates possibilities for individuals with special needs and their families by delivering essential programs. Their team is passionate about self-care for families and ensures they get a break from caregiving to support their own wellbeing.  

 It’s a $7 million organization that experienced exponential growth over the three years leading up to coronavirus, on average 25% per year.  

 With such rapid growth “there were, as you can imagine, growing pains,” explains Jennifer Neal, Director of Corporate Services.  

“When I arrived, they were on QuickBooks and our internal controls were weak,” recalls Jennifer. “We have an in-house database system, we call it our ERP, but it’s basically a CRM and there was no link between QuickBooks because there’s no API. All of our processes were manual. Our system wasn’t cloud based, which wasn’t an issue up until coronavirus hit. People had to connect to a virtual private network from home and that didn’t always work.” 

Adaptabilities has several different programs and several locations, but within one location, there could be two or three programs.  

“That complicated things,” Jennifer says. “We didn’t have the ability to efficiently analyze each program along with each location and its profitability—we’d have to export many different reports and case them together through Excel. And it was just a long process, it wasn’t efficient, and more often than not, it didn’t get completed.” 

She decided AdaptAbilities needed a next-level financial management solution in order to build for the future and achieve what Jennifer calls “future proofing.”  

Watch the webcast recording 

Next steps: solution provider recommends Sage Intacct 

 Adaptabilities turned to solution provider Asyma Solutions for help.  

“Quickly we realized that Asyma Solutions was the best partner for us, and they put us in touch with another nonprofit to talk about Sage Intacct,” recalls Jennifer. 

The training, support and Sage Intacct customization that AdaptAbilities received from Asyma Solutions exceeded Jennifer’s expectations. “We’re still in the process of learning—it’s a very robust system, but it’s really exciting and I can’t wait to get with our developer and link the CRM and continue to streamline our activities,” she says. 

Right away, the finance department saw noticeable benefits with Sage Intacct. “We’ve been able to strengthen our internal controls, we have the automated workflow of approvals for payables and journal entries now. That’s eliminated a lot of paper,” Jennifer says.  

She adds the cloud-based nature of Sage Intacct allows her team to access it anywhere, any time. 

Restructuring at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award calls for a software upgrade 

The Award empowers young people to learn and grow through non-formal education, all while working towards a globally recognized accreditation. 

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is in about 130 countries and territories, so it’s a big deal around the world and it’s really important for 14-to-24-year-olds who want to challenge themselves and grow into a better version of themselves,” explains Remi Straus, Finance and Corporate Services Director for the Award in Canada. 

In 2021, the organization decided to restructure and centralize operations. “We were going from 11 separate charities across the country, one national office that used Sage 50 with 10 divisions across the country, into one award,” recalls Remi.   

With the restructure, it became clear that the organization needed to upgrade their software to match. 

“We were challenged with restricted fund management and consolidated reporting because you’ve got different ways of reporting to the government, say, as opposed to your auditors,” explains Remi. “We had people working remotely and Sage 50 is largely a desktop solution. Bank reconciliations were largely manual, and we needed a solution with the restructuring.” 

Enter, Sage Intacct 

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Awards in Canada worked with BAASS Business Solutions Inc. to find the right financial management solution. “They gave us demonstrations like no other,” recalls Remi. “And we knew that they would be behind us to implement what we needed.” 

He particularly liked that Sage Intacct supports budgeting and planning in different dimensions. “That was what really hooked me in,” recalls Remi. 

The organization has multiple criteria to manage—including knowing where the money’s come from, which fund it’s from, what it’s for, the project, location, team, employee, customer, vendor, receipt requirements, and more. Remi explains that with Sage Intacct, they’re now able to slice and dice these different dimensions to create custom reports. 

Watch the webcast recording 

People, processes, technology 

Remi offers a great perspective on how people, process, and technology all impact each other.  

“You change one element and it all shifts, they’re all related,” he says. You change technology and it’s going to change your processes. Maybe it’s going to change how people need to work. It’s not about getting rid of people—it’s about changing what work they’re doing.” 

Jennifer Neal at AdaptAbilities has her own take on the role of technology. She believes the better the technology, the more organizations can empower employees to use the data to help in decision making and make recommendations to senior management.  

“If they’re spending less time entering a journal entry or whatever it is that they happen to be doing, such as reconciling a bank manually, they’re better able to just take a step back and look at things and analyze,” says Jennifer.  

Watch the webcast recording 

Final thoughts 

Digital transformation and financial management modernization is an exciting journey with many quantifiable benefits.  

While every company’s journey is different, the ultimate goal is the same: prioritize investments to get the biggest impact, automate those tedious accounting tasks, and build organizational policies directly into your modern financial management system. This is a crucial way to add value to your organization, your constituents, and your shareholders.  

If your organization is getting serious about future proofing, now is the time to create a modernization plan unlock the capabilities of your finance team, increase efficiency, and have a positive impact on insights.