The Client

A nonprofit organization that provides adoption and foster care services. Founded in the 1930s, the entity serves families in more than 20 counties across Michigan, maintaining three offices in northern Michigan.

The Challenge

Multiple operational challenges drove this nonprofit to re-evaluate its financial workflows and look into adopting a cutting-edge accounting solution. At the time, the nonprofit was using the accounting solution FundWare by Blackbaud and was struggling to manage its monthly financial reporting requirements. The accounting team was tasked with pulling together reports and presenting them to the board of directors, a grueling task requiring considerable manual labor. For example, in-house accountants had to export data from Blackbaud and enter it into spreadsheets for further processing. This workflow, combined with the tight monthly timetable, left the accounting team scrambling. The nonprofit also maintained an extensive chart of account structure with more than 200 accounts, many of which were essentially duplicates created to make up for a lack of sub accounting capabilities. On top of this, FundWare was not scalable, so the nonprofit was forced to hold back on fundraising events, programs and extending their services to the public, which was an infrastructural snag that inhibited overall organizational growth.

 

With these challenges in mind, the accounting team set out to pinpoint an easy-to-implement solution that could simplify existing accounting practices and scale to accommodate growth. Unfortunately, this journey did not begin on a positive note. The nonprofit conducted an initial search and partnered with Blackbaud to implement their latest solution Financial Edge, that seemed to meet their needs. However, serious issues arose during implementation when Blackbaud was under the assumption that the nonprofit would be doing most of the installation activities themselves. Keep in mind, this nonprofit did not have an in-house IT resource and relied on an external IT consultant who had helped them in the past but wanted to ultimately steer away from maintaining their own network and extend that to the cloud. Since the nonprofit did not have the resources or expertise needed to oversee this project, they faced major challenges during implementation and were forced to abandon Financial Edge. 

The Solution

With their failed implementation of Financial Edge, this nonprofit restarted its accounting software search efforts and connected with The TM Group. Unlike Blackbaud, The TM Group relied upon a consultative approach to managing an implementation, working with the nonprofit to evaluate its true operational needs, formulate an applicable software package and put into motion streamlined financial management workflows centered on a transformative backend accounting infrastructure.

 

The TM Group helped the organization implement Sage Intacct which includes functionality designed specifically for nonprofit organizations. Filled with numerous mission-critical features, the software could help the organization deal with their mounting accounting issues, starting with the increasingly frustrating monthly financial reporting process. The TM Group recognized that the robust reporting components included in Sage Intacct could enable accountants to pull presentation-ready financial reports without manual processing work. Instead of exporting accounting data to Excel for further preparation prior to monthly board meetings – a process that normally took four days – the finance team would be able to access reliable data in mere minutes. Sage Intacct also had the ability to ameliorate the problems stemming from the client’s overextended chart of account structure. The TM Group surmised that Sage Intacct, via multidimensional accounting controls, could help the organization eliminate superfluous accounts, clean up its sub accounting workflows and ultimately improve reporting accuracy. Finally, Sage Intacct could facilitate optimal scalability through its expandable cloud-based infrastructure, meaning the organization could easily grow its financial systems without IT support to support new operations.

 

In addition to consulting and training, The TM Group offered a collaborative approach to the implementation, making an effort to offer support from day one of the project to go-live and beyond. This benefit was especially important considering the client’s very recent experience with a competing software provider. The TM Group knew the nonprofit did not want to suffer another roll out failure and therefore resolved to offer guidance and lend a helping hand at every turn. 

The Outcome

Accountants for the nonprofit embraced new monthly business processes centered on Sage Intacct’s rich financial reporting features, drastically reducing the time and effort required to assemble board packets. The software also enabled the organization to drastically pare down its sub accounting structure, reducing the number of line items by almost a third. Additionally, the multidimensional accounting capabilities included in the product reduced the likelihood of this issue developing in the future, as users can now easily attach descriptors to each transaction, negating the need for additional accounts. On top of this, the client was able to add new dimensions to further bolster its reporting practices. Today, accountants for the organization can monitor financial operations at multiple locations and trace transactions to specific funding sources and programs. They can also categorize funding. Together, these capabilities support streamlined financial management operations and facilitate scalability, allowing the operations teams and executives to view a clear picture of the nonprofit’s financial health.

 

The TM Group helped lay the groundwork for these transformational outcomes through hands-on implementation assistance and an effective multistage training program, which began with  self-paced, web-based training. The users who participated in this instructional training accessed role-based videos covering key tasks. For example, the users involved in accounts payable workflows were able to explore Sage Intacct AP prior to deployment and learn how to configure vendors, create invoices and pay bills. With this base-level understanding in place, employees could easily transition into the second part of the program: an in-person module addressing organization-specific setup and configuration. These tools ultimately empowered the internal accounting team and prepared them for the implementation and go-live.

 

In the end, The TM Group was able to help the organization get back on its feet after its initial implementation failure and deploy an innovative financial management system that not only led to short-term improvements but also prepared the organization for future growth.

 

Does your nonprofit organization want to improve your accounting and business processes? Connect with The TM Group, who have been managing software implementations for decades, providing small to medium sized organizations with customized services designed to help them find success today and in the future. Connect with The TM Group today to learn more.