This article will zoom in on financial reporting solutions for non-profit organizations using Sage Intacct, with a focus on features and functionalities to expand your Business Intelligence analytics.
Financial reporting is arguably the touchstone in terms of Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and Business Intelligence (BI) analytical processes, and for non-profit organizations, it is no different. If you’re using Sage Intacct, you know that there is financial reporting functionality built right into the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. But there are plenty of organizations turning to third party products to perform these routine tasks of producing financial statements – why? The independent software vendor (ISV) offerings for financial reporting software are designed with consumer demands in mind, and they streamline and expand analyses for a richer understanding of the data, trends, opportunities, and challenges. This article will discuss the benefits of third party financial reporting solutions for non-profit organizations using Sage Intacct.
First of all, there are a few overarching characteristics that should drive your search for a financial report writer. I always start with ease of use as the top priority for a software that your team of business end users can manage themselves, without the IT department getting involved. If the product you decide to invest in and implement is difficult or even too complicated for your accounting team to use for their regular processes, you risk a waste of your money.
Next up: collaboration. Teamwork in regard to decision-making is common, even for small non-profit teams, so you want to find a solution that focuses on sensible collaboration, eliminating manual merging together of disparate spreadsheets and lengthy back-and-forth e-mail threads. And with collaboration, security follows as an important characteristic to seek. Password protection and distributable access rights are modern ways for you to ensure that sensitive information doesn’t get into the wrong hands. It is these characteristics that should be a framework to evaluate different offerings for your non-profit Intacct processes.
Beyond these higher level criteria, there are several aspects to modern offerings that you should be considering when looking at your ISV financial reporting software options. You should think about how you want to integrate your data; what kind of software platform you prefer; if mobile reporting can assist your analytics, especially with on-the-go decision-makers; where you’re headed in terms of analyses and why a CPM suite might best support your roadmap. In addition to all of these elements, you also want to look at how a financial report writer can specifically address non-profit analytical needs.
Let’s start with a fundamental aspect: Ensuring that the same report writer can be used for both financial reports and operational reports (see examples above). Then next, how you can integrate your data. Modern financial report writers vary in how you can pull data from Sage Intacct. The native Intacct report writer offers a live integration, directly from the Sage Intacct ERP database, so you can achieve a real-time analysis. This is great for professionals who need up-to-date information for more urgent deadlines, but you do also run the risk of slowing down the Intacct server if you have multiple users querying data, sometimes simultaneously.
However, you not get the same flexibility in report design as some of the third party reporting options. If that concerns you, a CPM data store integration, whether an OLAP (online analytical processing) cube or data warehouse, provides a more powerful performance for analyses. It is, however, an additional investment for the technology, and you’ll have to replicate your information from Sage Intacct and other data sources for an up-to-date financial report.
Next up: choosing the right platform. Excel is arguably the most trusted software in finance, so Excel add-ins are rightfully pretty popular in the financial reporting marketplace. The add-in technology takes Excel and expands it with sub-ledger reporting, drill-down and drill-to capabilities, etc. In other words, the ribbon added to the toolbar upgrades the analytical experience within an application that a lot of us know like the back of our hands. On the other hand, proprietary products are also somewhat popular for consumers. Some are packed with power and impressive aesthetics, but because they are not Excel-based in regard to formatting and formulas, there’s likely going to be a lengthier learning curve for your end users. Finally, the Web is the new frontier for technology, with Sage Intacct as Exhibit A, and financial reporting has followed suit.
The accessibility and flexibility of web-based financial report writers should not be undervalued. In the modern business world, there is a significant population of road warriors and remote employees, and non-profit organizations have experienced this shift. To be able to access data and analytics from anywhere you can connect to the internet is extremely valuable. And relatedly, there are now products that offer a mobile reporting application for truly on-the-go professionals to access financial statements wherever they carry their mobile devices. Nowadays, in response to the nature of business, the keyword is flexibility. And there’s little more flexible than hybridity – and a complete suite of BI tools.
Hybrid products can offer you the best of all options. More specifically, there are financial reporting tools that are both Excel-powered and web-based, so you can design, configure, and automate financial reports for your non-profit online with familiar formulas, formatting and coding. Additionally, if you go with a product that is positioned within a full CPM suite, even if you are just in the market for financial reporting right now, you are making a smart investment in a business user friendly future for your analyses. As an example, almost all Not for Profit organizations are heavy users of budgeting, so this can be beneficial to have as an integrated part of the same product suite the report writer may be part of.
What is the Effort to Implement a Financial Reporting Solution for Sage Intacct?
Most Sage Intacct customers want their connected apps, including CPM tools and dashboards, to be cloud based. Key questions that quickly come up are: how hard is it to integrate to Sage Intacct and how much cost and effort does it take to get up and running?
The answer typically is weeks or months of effort and tens of thousands of dollars in services. However, Sage Intacct software partners, like Solver, that work very closely with Sage and its partner channel, have developed pre-built integrations as well as out-of-the-box financial reports, planning input templates and Power BI dashboards. For example, Solver’s QuickStart integration to Sage Intacct can get a company up and running in a single day with 100+ pre-built budget and forecast input templates, Power BI financial dashboards, as well as financial reports. All of these ready-to-use templates can be selected and downloaded at no additional cost from a continuously growing Template Marketplace.
If you can implement CPM tools incrementally, comprehensive suites translate to full integration of your software modules, similar interfaces, and one team of sales, consulting, and support professionals, which is time and energy saved. Let’s talk about financial reporting specifically for non-profit organizations.
Here’s what non-profits need to think about in terms of financial reporting: if you consider how much just the fundraising aspect of your work has evolved over the past twenty years, shifting from special events and direct mail to online and mobile donations, e-newsletters, social media efforts, and so on, in addition to traditional methods, you know you have a lot of data to manage and evaluate. Moreover, Sage Intacct probably is not the only data source you are utilizing, and you likely have professionals across the organization who need to access business user friendly, secure data analyses for richer, collaborative decision-making – and the built-in reporting functionality can fall short for most non-profits of a healthy size. Solver would be happy to answer questions and generally review Solver’s Excel and web-based, easy-to-use financial reporting module stand-alone and component in the comprehensive suite of CPM modules for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities for non-profits using Sage Intacct.