Greening Australia is the country’s largest not-for-profit environmental organization. It was founded in 1982 with the aim of restoring the health, diversity, and productivity of Australian landscapes. With representation in all eight state and territories and a national office in Canberra, Greening Australia employs about 350 full- and part-time staff.
||After evaluating a range of options, we chose Microsoft Dynamics GP because it offered what we were looking for, namely the freedom to create reports designed specifically for our needs.
||Helen Delahunty, Chief Financial Officer, Greening Australia
As a not-for-profit organization that relied heavily on grants and fundraising, Greening Australia lacked the resources to invest in high-end financial management technology. Furthermore, the nine state and territory organizations, including the national office, were incorporated as separate financial entities. This presented a unique set of challenges to Greening Australia’s accounting team.
Each organization used MYOB, a small-business financial software package, to manage its accounts. Each office entered and maintained its own financial data. To check and consolidate financial reports, the accounting team had to manually combine data from each office into a Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet. The amount of time this took was a considerable drain on resources.
“We spent a lot of time transferring data from each organization’s system into Excel to create what we needed,” recalls Helen Delahunty, Chief Financial Officer, Greening Australia. “Monthly reports took eight man days out of each month just to complete.”
State, territory and federal governments have separate reporting requirements on the use of government grant money. Around 55% of Greening Australia’s annual revenue of A$50 million comes from government funding. Therefore maintaining accountability is vital for the protection of the organization’s main revenue source.
To complicate matters, the existing software could not accurately track project expenditure against budgets.
“Project managers were frustrated because line items in budgets they wrote would not match the line items in our financial reports,” explains Delahunty. “They couldn’t get an end-to-end overview of their projects, which made them feel like they weren’t in control.”
There was also no centralized timesheet mechanism for reporting and tracking the hours spent on each project.
In mid-2006, a change to the legal structure of Greening Australia meant it had to consolidate its accounts and report as one financial entity.
“The National Board of Greening Australia Ltd became responsible for the fiduciary health of all nine organizations,” says Delahunty. “We had to report collectively as well as separately.
“Our accounts system simply could not be used to create reports that consolidated the nine organizations. We had outgrown its functionality and required something more advanced.”
In late 2006, Greening Australia looked at upgrading its financial management technology to better manage its resources.
Greening Australia began the search process by looking at several financial management packages.
“After evaluating a range of options, we chose Microsoft Dynamics GP because it offered what we were looking for, namely the freedom to create reports designed specifically for our needs,” says Delahunty.
||All purchase orders and timesheet tracking now flow through Microsoft Dynamics GP, so the accounting team gets seamless, consolidated financial results that are more accurate.
||Konrad Berger, Director, Dynamic Edge
Greening Australia worked with Microsoft Partner Dynamic Edge to design a centralized accounting system based on Microsoft Dynamics GP. The financial software package runs on a central server and users in each Greening Australia office can access the system using a thin-client protocol. Microsoft Dynamics GP uses a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database to store its data. In this way, Greening Australia can track every transaction in a single environment.
Greening Australia also used Microsoft FRx Professional reporting software, which can extract data from Microsoft Dynamics GP – for example, pulling information directly from the general ledger to create reports.
Dynamic Edge used Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and the Microsoft .NET Framework to build web-based purchase approval and timesheet programs that it integrated with Microsoft Dynamics GP. The timesheet program also connects directly to the organization’s payroll management software.
“All purchase orders and timesheet tracking now flow through Microsoft Dynamics GP, so the accounting team gets seamless, consolidated financial results that are more accurate,” says Konrad Berger, Director, Dynamic Edge.
The project began in January 2007 and the finished product was implemented simultaneously across most Greening Australia offices in June 2007.
Implementing Microsoft Dynamics GP has allowed Greening Australia to create a consolidated set of accounts across nine offices. This has improved the quality and accuracy of financial data and reduced the workload of the accounts department. The not-for-profit organization now has better tools to track project spending and comply with state and federal government reporting requirements.
Reduced accounting team workload
By creating a centralized financial management system, Greening Australia has dramatically reduced the workload of its accounting team.
“Monthly financial reports used to take a full day to create for each office, which means eight days out of every month were taken up by reporting,” says Delahunty. “Now creating a report takes five minutes.
“With all the offices linked up to the one application, it’s also much easier to create consolidated reports. Before we implemented Microsoft Dynamics GP, I had to wait for information to come in from each organization. Now, I have real-time visibility into the information I need.”
The purchase order and timesheet applications that Dynamic Edge developed have also made life easier for the Greening Australia accounts department.
“All Greening Australia employees can now enter information directly into the system themselves, rather than getting the accounting team to do it for them, which saves a lot of time and effort,” explains Berger.
More accurate accounting data
Greening Australia’s accounting team can easily create detailed reports designed specifically for their needs. Consolidated financial data for each office gives the financial team a much better understanding of the organization’s operations, which has proven helpful for troubleshooting and fixing problems.
||Microsoft FRx gives us the ability to design templates for each of the nine different organisations, so we can provide what each of them requires with complete accuracy.
||Helen Delahunty, Chief Financial Officer, Greening Australia
“A few months ago one of the state organizations was having cash flow difficulties,” explains Delahunty. “Due to the enormous distance between offices, it would usually take days of ‘back and forth’ to resolve the problem. With Microsoft Dynamics GP I had instantaneous access to their results and could offer immediate advice on how to solve the issue.”
Tools for compliance and accountability
Microsoft Dynamics GP ensures transaction integrity so that every transaction and change has an audit trail, which helps the accounting team maintain accountability to governments and other grant providers.
“Each government requires us to report against different line items and outcomes to justify our grants,” says Delahunty. “Microsoft FRx gives us the ability to design templates for each of the nine different organizations, so we can provide what each of them requires with complete accuracy.”
Improved project management
The Microsoft Dynamics GP system also allows project managers to extract information they require, giving them an end-to-end view of each project, which allows for better control.
“For example, a project manager can now ask to see what he or she spent on their project in the last three months,” says Delahunty. “We can pull the exact information the project manager wants to see, without having to load the entire project into the same report like we used to.”
Platform for the future
The scalability of Microsoft Dynamics GP gives Greening Australia a solid foundation on which to develop its operations.
“Greening Australia could double or triple the size of its operations and not have to change its accounting technology,” says Claire Kennedy, Microsoft Dynamics Account Manager. “This scalability makes Microsoft Dynamics GP a reliable investment for organizations that don’t want to worry about upgrading accounting technology as they grow.”
Adds Berger: “In the future, Greening Australia may also take advantage of in-built functionality designed especially for not-for-profit organizations. These special functions include tools for fund management, grant management, and budgeting.”
Just like the trees it plants, Greening Australia now has room to grow.
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of integrated, adaptable business management solutions that enables you and your people to make business decisions with greater confidence. Microsoft Dynamics works like familiar Microsoft software such as Microsoft Office, which means less of a learning curve for your people, so they can get up and running quickly and focus on what’s most important. And because it is from Microsoft, it easily works with the systems that your company already has implemented. By automating and streamlining financial, customer relationship, and supply chain processes, Microsoft Dynamics brings together people, processes, and technologies, increasing the productivity and effectiveness of your business, and helping you drive business success.
For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to: www.microsoft.com/dynamics
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call 1800197 960. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: http://www.microsoft.com/australia/dynamics/
For more information about Dynamic Edge products and services, call (+61) 2 6112 8334 or visit the Web site at: www.dynamicedge.net.au
For more information about Greening Australia products and services, call (+61) 2 6202 1600 or visit the Web site at: www.greeningaustralia.org.au