Although nonprofit in nature, the needs of the finance departments supporting the charity and support sector in Canada mirror those of their for-profit peers.
Stephanie Kolibaba, Director of Finance at the Edmonton-based nonprofit The Family Centre, speaks to Sage Advice about how her finance team embraced digital transformation to undo bottlenecks, reduce manual processes and analyze better data in the organization.
A nonprofit’s challenge
The Family Centre is a counselling and resource centre that provides a safe space for everyone. The centre supports people of all ages, cultures, ethnicities, experiences, gender expressions, gender identities, religions, and sexual orientations and helps its clients navigate through change, raise healthy children, develop strong and healthy relationships, and heal from trauma.
With a mandate like this, it’s imperative that the Family Centre runs a smooth accounting operation in order to ensure that the organization’s resources are used properly and in full.
“Even though we’re not for profit, we have a cost accounting type situation because obviously as a non for profit, we want to use our resources…all of our resources,” explains Stephanie Kolibaba, Director of Finance. “We don’t want any surplus at the end of the day, and we definitely don’t want a deficit. We want to make sure that every dollar is used and is going towards our community and directly to our clients.” The more Stephanie shared the challenges her finance team had to overcome, the easier it was to draw parallels between a scaling for profit business with a growing non-profit organization.
“We were doing a $23 million budget in excel and you cannot imagine how painful that is.”
For finance managers in a bustling business over-relying on Microsoft Excel, this may be an all too familiar situation. Many scaling organizations develop accounting requirements such as revenue recognition and multi-entity consolidation, but unfortunately, their existing financial software was not purpose-built for these emerging business needs. This puts pressure on the finance teams to design cumbersome workarounds to fill their reporting gap. For some businesses, this burden is often accompanied by the following challenges.
- Exporting data to multiple spreadsheets
- Creating additional journal entries each month
- Using a third-party tool to report revenue that doesn’t integrate with the primary accounting solution.
These workarounds lead to entry errors, incorrect or outdated data, process inefficiencies, wasted time and resources, and a lack of control and compliance.
“We went from heavy segmenting with no consistency to an organized dimensional system that allows me to slice and dice the information without manually having to do that.”
Before the switch to the cloud, The Family Centre’s core financials and accounting solutions were limited to canned reports without catch-all dashboards. This meant that the organization was fitting their financial reports around the programs’ limitations and not on the requirements of the finance team. Furthermore, the solution would deem requests for detailed information has too much to manage.
“Reporting was a big issue for us, and our previous Sage Solution was not built to do reporting. It was built to do transactions. It’s difficult to extract the reporting information we need. We were struggling a lot to get all the information we need on one report. The reports needed to be better and faster and not something that I had to spend 80% of my time to create, versus applying that information to how we can do things better,” says Stephanie.
Sage Intacct allows for heavy customization of reporting, thus ensuring users can pull reports that only contain data that is relevant to their organization. A configurable workflow is no longer ‘a nice to have’, it’s a fundamental requirement for businesses seeking a solution that can power their journey to scale.
Slimming down the chart of accounts
One of the most critical components of the finance team’s operations is the chart of accounts. This is an index of all the financial accounts in the general ledger of a company. It’s the organizational tool that provides a digestible breakdown of all the financial transactions that a company conducted during a specific accounting period, broken down into subcategories. In the case of the Family Centre, as the operations began to scale, the binder of accounts started to swell. Once Sage Intacct was implemented, this changed dramatically.
“One of the biggest things was our chart of accounts. We went from a binder full of accounts, (and there was no way I could explain this to other managers outside of finance), we went from 3500 accounts down to 200. It’s thanks to this dimensional reporting,” says Stephanie.
No stress cloud updates
Having previously dealt with an on-premises legacy system, fixes, updates and repairs were next to impossible for a team with no dedicated IT resource. For growing organizations, or simply organizations without an IT headcount it’s essential that they are equipped with a cloud-based solution that can provide frictionless updates and add new functionality to businesses and nonprofits.
“I’m no IT expert, and we don’t have an IT department but I would have to try and rustle up some help there was an update to our existing solution because it was on-premise and now this is no longer a thing…every update is already in there. It saves a lot of time and stress,” says Stephanie
A highly adaptable and customizable solution was required
“Customization was a big factor in my buying choice and Sage Intacct was highly customizable. The budgeting module, although an add on, was the thing that really sold it to me.”
If you were to ask Stephanie about her buying journey on the route to Sage Intacct she would admit there were some failures along the way, as they tried to figure out what the organization really needed. The Family Centre sought an automated and integrated solution. One consideration was the integration of the existing database that could talk to the chosen accounting system.
One of the key recommendations that Stephanie has to offer to like-minded nonprofits or business starting their purchase journey is to lean on an accredited Sage partner to help you find exactly what you need. Stephanie and the Family Centre leveraged Asyma Solutions.
“I straight up told Asyma Solutions ‘let’s be partners’. They heard what we needed and who we were as an organization. This was the first time someone had really taken the time to listen to our requirements,” explains Stephanie.
Finally, a complete view of company finances
The Family Centre went from heavy segmenting with no consistency to an organized dimensional system that allows the finance team to slice and dice the information without being bogged down in manual processes. This gave the team the time to actually analyze the data and make critical changes to the way they run operations.
“It’s like we went from looking at a 2D image of our financial business to a 3D comprehensive view of our business with a clarity you wouldn’t expect, it’s liberating,” concludes Stephanie.
The Family Centre’s steps to success
- Took stock of everything they wanted and needed
- Shopped around the market
- Did not settle for lack of customization
- Talked to a solutions partner
- Reduced manual processes
- Developed dimensional reporting
- Reduced number of accounts from 3500 to 200
- Continued to enjoy instant cloud-based updates
- Now enjoy a 3D comprehensive view of their organization
Discover Sage Intacct
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