I was talking with the CFO of one of our not for profit clients the other day and he made a wonderful observation – “our business is very simple really. We get money from the government which we then just have to spend delivering programs to the community” followed by a pause long enough to have me thinking “that doesn’t sound right” and then he continued “of course then comes the hard part, reporting it all back again, the reporting demands from the board and other stakeholders come thick and fast and we have to respond quickly”. Ah ha – that sounds more like it!
And this is always the rub for the not-for-profit sector – they have to be able to turn on a dime to respond to extensive inquires on how the funding was spent from a multitude of angles across the organisation and broken down by the myriad of programs being delivered to the community. This is the killer blow for many NFPs – the endless slog of reporting every month.
So many in the sector fall upon spreadsheets to solve the problem and to a CFO there is agreement that this is not the ideal method for all the reasons everybody knows about.
Our NFP sector clients using Infor SunSystems have all the same challenges as any other member of the sector in terms of fulfilling the constant and changing demands for information. Where they are ahead of the pack, however, is through the natural sophistication that SunSystems brings to the problem. The combination of the flexibility of the analysis dimensions and the ease of use of the analysis reporting tools like Advanced Inquiry and Query & Analysis (aka Vision) enables them to slice and dice the transactional data in any way they want and to generate on-the-fly or extensive reporting packs quickly and accurately.
The valuable progression from ‘lag’ reporting to ‘lead’ forecasting can readily be addressed by extending into the fully integrated Infor PM budgeting, forecasting and planning features. Indeed the winner of our 2011 Business Improvement Award in this area was a Victorian NFP – more about this another time.