“Month-end reports that used to take up to 15 days are now being completed in half the time and I am confident we can reduce that further.”
Antony Rucco, Finance Manager, Centacare Ballarat
Centacare Ballarat (Centacare) provides counselling and welfare services to citizens who live within the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat in Western Victoria. As a charitable organisation, they are required to provide detailed financial reports to funding bodies as well as their own finance committee. However, by mid-2010, their MYOB accounting system was struggling to cope. Month-end reports took up to 15 days to produce, and staff could not easily produce bespoke reports.
With the help of Evolution Business Systems (EBS), Centacare deployed Microsoft Dynamics® NAV 2009, and upgraded its database server to Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 R2, with supporting analysis and reporting modules. This enabled the organisation to examine its data more easily, produce reports for specific cost centres and provide management with more up-to-date information.
As a result, Centacare keeps a closer track on all its programs, demonstrating to funding agencies exactly when and how their funds have been spent. In addition, month-end reporting times have been cut by almost a third, freeing up Finance Department staff to focus on other value-added activities.
||“The most important requirement was the ability to provide accurate and verifiable reports to our funding bodies without them taking an excessive amount of time or manual labour.”
Centacare Ballarat (Centacare) emerged in 1991 from the family welfare services of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Ballarat. With the help of Federal and State Government funding it has since expanded to 13 offices across Western Victoria, and today its 220 employees provide support for the homeless and mentally ill, rehabilitation programs for drug addicts and youth offenders, and a variety of other welfare programs.
As a charitable organisation, Centacare is accountable to funding bodies and government departments for the way they spend their A$16 million annual budget. However, by mid-2010, the organisation’s PC-based MYOB accounting software had become unwieldy.
“We couldn’t easily get detailed general ledger information at a cost level from our accounting system,” says Antony Rucco, Finance Manager, Centacare Ballarat. “To produce budgets for different cost centres, we had to export data from MYOB using a third-party tool, and this could take all night. Producing month-end reports took approximately 12–15 days, and all our reporting required lots of manual intervention.”
While MYOB produced a wide range of reports, staff in the Finance Department wanted more flexibility. They specifically wanted the ability to analyse data at each of the organisation’s 60 cost centres, as well as the ability to scrutinise general ledger data, so they could provide on-the-spot responses to queries from the finance committee.
“We also wanted the ability to look at data in a different way,” says Rucco. “For example, we wanted to be able to group cost-centres together, so we could compare the costs of delivering similar services in different parts of the diocese or compare the costs of delivering different services in the same area.”
“The need to create bespoke reports and financial analysis became more critical as we grew over a wide geographic area. But for us, the most important requirement was the ability to provide accurate and verifiable reports to our funding bodies without them taking an excessive amount of time or manual labour.”
In early 2009, Centacare began reviewing alternative accounting packages. Rucco asked Microsoft Certified Silver Partner for Enterprise Resource Planning, Evolution Business Systems (EBS) to demonstrate the enterprise resource planning tool, Microsoft Dynamics® NAV 2009, which is part of the business management software suite, Microsoft Dynamics®.
“Dynamics was an attractive option for them because they already used Microsoft SharePoint for document management, and an SQL Server for their bespoke purchase ordering system,” says Paul Woods, Director, EBS. “They were familiar with Microsoft products and had already done some very advanced development work.”
Over the course of a year, Centacare examined a variety of accounting packages.
“We examined deployment and training costs, licences, on-going annual fees and likely support expenses to establish total cost of ownership,” says Rucco. “Dynamics NAV compared very favourably, and we were also attracted by how easy it would be to use. We wanted our staff to adapt easily to the new system, and the interface was already familiar to staff who used Office or SharePoint.”
||“Dynamics has made reporting to our funding agencies much easier because we can create reports right down to the transactional level for each program.”
“We also wanted reliable support and strong vendor relations,” adds Rucco. “Development was an equally important issue: we wanted to maintain a degree of control and not get locked in to something we couldn’t change.”
In late 2010, EBS helped Centacare deploy Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009. They upgraded the organisation’s SQL database server to Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 R2 which now takes finance data directly from Microsoft Dynamics. EBS also used Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Analysis Services to construct a data cube and Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Reporting Services to script new reports.
The data cube establishes the parameters of the data from which reports are generated. Centacare was able to establish each of its cost centres as separate dimensions within its data cube, and attribute individual program costs to the specific programs that funding bodies sponsored.
EBS also created a Web services interface for Microsoft Dynamics NAV using Windows® SharePoint® Services Web Services, so that staff could export purchase order requests directly to the accounting package. The project was complete within two months.
“It was very fast,” says Rucco. “We went live on the first of August, one month earlier than originally planned.”
With Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009, Centacare has established a robust accounting package that can produce regular and bespoke financial reports quickly and with minimal manual input. This helps Centacare keep its programs on budget, and provide transparent reporting to funding bodies.
Microsoft Dynamics has improved the organisation’s ability to demonstrate value to the bodies that fund it.
“Microsoft Dynamics has made reporting to our funding agencies much easier because we can create reports right down to the transactional level for each program,” says Rucco. “If for example, we have funding from the Department of Families for a specific program, we can show everything that we have spent their money on.”
Microsoft Dynamics also provides greater assurance that financial data from all offices is correct.
“It provides us with a clear audit trail,” says Rucco. “There is no way of circumventing processes and procedures, so the data is secure, and we have a permanent record. This is very helpful during our audits”
Greater ease of use
Microsoft Dynamics owes some of its success to the fact that staff in Rucco’s finance department find the software easy to use.
“The data and reports in Microsoft Dynamics are very logical and my staff work intuitively with them,” says Rucco. “In addition, it’s very easy for us to export Dynamics data into Excel spreadsheets.
“A few days ago, a colleague that has worked at the heart of our finance department for several years told me how easy she found working with Dynamics, and I noticed she had even been able to reconfigure the screens herself.”
For Centacare, ease of use translates directly into a major business benefit: faster reporting.
“We are now working to very tight month-end deadlines,” says Rucco. “Month-end reports that used to take up to 15 days are now being completed in half the time and I am confident we can reduce that further.”
Microsoft Dynamics also provides greater flexibility. Rucco can give his finance committee specially requested data very quickly, which means executives work with information that is current and can track progress on programs more closely.
“I can also distribute reports electronically to our finance committee before their meetings, so they can give the numbers greater consideration.”
Reduced labour costs
By eliminating most manual data transfers and expediting reporting, Rucco has reduced the amount of labour devoted to financial reporting.
“We are saving the equivalent of a month’s work per year on reporting,” he comments. “Since there are only 12 of us in the department that is a huge saving.”
“This means we have more time to focus on value-added activities. We can go out and help our colleagues, rather than just balance the books.”
Microsoft product that was featured
Microsoft Dynamics® NAV 2009 is a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) software solution for mid-sized organisations that is fast to implement, easy to configure, and simple to use.
With Microsoft Dynamics NAV you can implement proven industry-specific functionality relevant to your needs—even for the most highly specialised industries and organisations. It is a cost-effective complete ERP software solution tailored precisely to your unique requirements—one that helps businesses better manage and improve cash flow, increase efficiency and impact the bottom line.
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services call the sales and information line on 1800 197 960 Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm AEST. To find a partner or solution, visit http://pinpoint.microsoft.com/en-AU, For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to: www.microsoft.com/australia/dynamics.