Municipal agency modernizes financial operations with Sage Intacct

Two female co-workers talking with food in their hands

The California Intergovernmental Risk Authority (CIRA) is a self-insured joint powers authority that handles the insurance claims, benefit programs, and risk management needs of public entities. Bringing together the Redwood Empire Municipal Insurance Fund (REMIF) and the Public Agency Risk Sharing Authority of California (PARSAC), CIRA is a brand new organization with a mission to provide cities and towns with shared risk financing, quality coverage, and customized services and solutions.

We recently connected with its executive director and finance director to learn about REMIF’s initial journey from Sage 100 to Sage Intacct, the organization’s recent merger, and how modern financial management is helping the newly formed agency ensure efficiency and transparency.

In our latest customer story, the team from CIRA shared how Sage Intacct helped them achieve results such as:

  • 75% more efficient finance operations
  • $100,000 annual savings by consolidating headcount post-merger
  • 95% faster financial close
  • Increased member trust and confidence

Amy Northam, the executive director at REMIF and now the deputy general manager of CIRA, summed up this impact, saying, “I can’t tell you how happy I am with the transformation. Implementing Sage Intacct made a night-and-day difference in our organization. It gave us confidence in the numbers, so our members have confidence in us as well—that’s been a game changer.”

Rebuilding trust through data accuracy and transparency

REMIF was established 45 years ago to help member agencies mitigate their self-insurance risk by spreading liability across a group of public entities. While these organizations benefit from pooling their resources, it’s been very important for REMIF itself to keep everything separate. Its finance team had to maintain distinct financials for every line of coverage and member account, something that its previous Sage 100 accounting system wasn’t designed to support.

The limitation of setting up a different chart of accounts for each fund grew cumbersome over time as the small team found itself stretched thin and relying on too many Excel-based processes. This eventually led to unfortunate reporting gaps and delayed discoveries, such as a few instances when REMIF realized it had been undercharging its members—resulting in fund deficits and audit findings that weakened the confidence of its board. A few years ago, Northam nipped this issue in the bud by hiring a finance director who quickly helped the agency migrate to a new cloud-based, multi-entity system of record: Sage Intacct.

REMIF’s finance director, Ritesh Sharma, remembers, “The implementation was smooth, and Sage Intacct allowed us to add internal workflows, smart events for approvals, segregation of duties, and a clear audit trail. After we automated so many day-to-day tasks, our finance team was able to step back and look at the big picture more often. They now spend less time processing transactions, and more time learning financial best practices, proactively managing cash balances, and more.”

This transition has brought benefits to the broader REMIF community as well. Sharma shared, “Six months after we went live, we did a presentation to the entire membership about our modern financial system. We talked with their city managers, attorneys, human resources, and finance people about our new financial reporting, dashboards, processes, and audit trail. That showed greater accountability, which built a lot of trust and confidence.”

Years later, Sage Intacct continues to deliver key advantages to the organization. “One of the biggest benefits is that we’re now paperless,” noted Northam. “So when COVID happened and we were forced to go remote overnight like everyone else, we had very few hiccups because our financial transactions were already electronic and in the cloud.” And when it came time to prepare for the merger with PARSAC, REMIF’s finance team had the bandwidth to help out with all of the integration processes and new procedures needed to set up the combined go-forward organization (CIRA).

Robust fund accounting boosts confidence

According to Sharma, the agency’s fund-level accounting was dramatically improved with Sage Intacct. The system allows CIRA to separate costs between different programs and categories, as opposed to trying to make do with only entity-level reporting in Excel.

“As accountants, we need financial statements that tell a story, such as ‘How is the overall funding pool? How is each fund doing? What is our claims liability?,’” he said. “Since we update these details frequently based on what’s happening, our board can easily see their outstanding liability, as well as what we need to fund for the next year.”

The combined organization enjoys accurate, comprehensive visibility into each line of coverage, helping its leadership better monitor variations in fund performance, make adjustments as needed, and proactively report important data back to member cities and towns. Northam shared, “Sage Intacct provides the information we need to see when we’re on track, or when a particular line is over or under-funded. It makes it very clear exactly how much of a reserve or deficit we have, so the board can decide whether to offset future pricing increases, return dividends back to the members, or adjust member pricing at the next renewal.”

Sharma added, “We have more accurate, detailed, timely information so there are no more surprises. We use Sage Intacct’s dimensions to track budgets against liabilities for individual lines of coverage, as well as the total budget for the pool.”

Financial controls are particularly critical for governmental organizations like CIRA that deal with public funds. Sage Intacct helps the agency make sure it has the right checks and balances in place.

“We have all kinds of controls in place across AP and AR, and it instills confidence in our members and our auditors that we’re double-checking every aspect,” said Northam. “We also give our auditors view-only access to the software, which is a huge time saver. They used to be on site for a week or two, pulling checks or other information, and there’d be lots of back-and-forth. Since implementing Sage Intacct, our auditor hasn’t even set foot in the office, because now they can access it all themselves and have the digital backup right there.”

To learn more about CIRA’s increased financial visibility, as well as the end-to-end financial processes the organization automated with Sage Intacct, read our new customer story.

Public Insurance Fund Drives 75% Efficiency Gain with Sage Intacct

Case Study - CIRA