Hope human services cuts budgeting time 50% and adopts flexible rolling forecasts

Disabled man holding hands with caregiver

With rapid business growth and multi-entity complexity, Excel-based budgeting became a labor-intensive pain point at Hope Human Services, a services agency that provides residential services to adults and youth with a range of mental capabilities.

“Budgeting was a manual process that consumed a great deal of time in reworking spreadsheet after spreadsheet,” as Shelton Horton, director of finance, recalls in our new Hope Human Services customer success story. “It was iteration after iteration after iteration, and we also wanted to track numbers at a more detailed level like location and revenue stream.”

The 500-employee company, operating in the Tacoma, Spokane, and Vancouver areas of Washington state, found its ideal solution with Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning. Live in late 2020, the budgeting module was a natural fit with the Sage Intacct accounting platform Hope Human services already had in place.

With the combined Sage Intacct solution, Hope Human Services has realized huge gains in financial scalability and efficiency for its growing business, which has seen significant growth since its founding in 2017:

  • Reduced budget creation time by 50%
  • Eliminated a half-day of work each month on budgets vs. actuals preparation
  • Heightened business insights and collaboration across the company
  • Shifted from static budgets to adaptive rolling forecasts
  • Improved accounting efficiency by a factor of 2x
  • Reduced monthly close time from as many as 10 days to two or three

“One of the biggest benefits in Sage Intacct is how the accounting and budgeting systems talk to each other, so you can easily go back and forth whenever you make any changes,” Horton said. “We have real-time information at our fingertips to make decisions quickly, and a great deal of flexibility as we continue to grow and shape our company.”

A ‘Ridiculously Easy’ Budgeting Implementation

Implementing Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning himself with some help from a Sage Intacct implementation specialist, Horton had the solution up and running with about eight hours of setup time.

“It was ridiculously easy to get our budget data loaded, start working with the information, and get comfortable with the tool,” Horton said. That mirrors the ease and speed Horton realized several years earlier when self-implementing Sage Intacct accounting to replace QuickBooks.

Compared to Excel-based budget creation in the past, involving six tabs of about 300 lines each, Horton needed just half the time to build his 2021 budget with Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning.

“I’m cutting my budgeting time in half with Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning, and we’re able to do rolling forecasts to adapt to any changes,” Horton said.

Now Hope Human Services is using scenario modeling in Sage Intacct Budgeting and Planning to support quarterly rolling forecasts looking out 12 months, compared to its static annual budgets of the past. Horton can easily devise what-if scenarios from best case to worst case, accounting for a range of factors.

“The nice part is you don’t have a stale budget for 12 months as conditions change,” Horton said. “We’ll be able to look at different scenarios and reforecast every quarter to adjust and keep a fresh outlook on the budget.”

Budget vs. Actuals Reporting Drives Informed Decisions

Meanwhile, budget vs. actuals reporting via Sage Intacct is delivering more timely and detailed insights than were possible with Excel reports once a month. Seamless data exchange between accounting and budgeting eliminates at least a half-day of manual data work each month.

“We’re able to provide stakeholders with access to a dashboard so they can see how they’re performing on a budget vs. actuals basis and have more input going forward,” Horton said. “We don’t have to wait until the end of the month to see how things are going — we’ve got real-time data available whenever we need it.”

That’s heightening collaboration between location directors and other stakeholders, while role-based permissions in Sage Intacct ensure that information is viewable only by selected individuals, eliminating control weaknesses of the previous environment.

Better insights through budget vs. actuals reporting are contributing to better business decisions. For example, Hope Human Services didn’t believe one of its programs was especially performing well.

Deeper analysis possible with Sage Intacct showed that, in fact, the program was performing well, prompting a decision to expand that program in 2021. And earlier, in 2019, Sage Intacct usage contributed to a decision to acquire a new book of business.

“Making sure the ROI on the new venture made sense was key, and that was possible because I could quickly pull information, break down the details, and present it to ownership,” Horton said.

A ‘Huge Asset’ in Business Growth

Horton is bullish on Hope Human Services’ ability to continue to grow with the combined Sage Intacct platform for accounting and budgeting.

Ease of use has empowered location-based staff to run their own AP processes, saving time for headquarters staff that Horton is reinvesting in a new focus on operations and analytics oriented around growth.

“I don’t think we’d be where we are today without Sage Intacct,” Horton said. “Sage Intacct has been a huge asset as we grow and further change and define our reporting and structure. The flexibility of the software has been key to our success of tracking and reporting at both the subsidiary and parent level.”

See our Hope Human Services success story for more information on how the services agency has transformed budgeting, reporting, and accounting with Sage Intacct.

Hope Human Services Success Story

Hope Human Services - Cuts Budgeting Time 50% and Adopts Flexible Rolling Forecasts

Crippled woman working as secretary