NAV improves control and reporting for Centacare Ballarat
When Centacare Ballarat outgrew the capabilities of its PC-based accounting software package, it sought a financial application with robustness, flexibility and familiarity. To manage and control its 60 separate cost centres, the Catholic social service organisation chose Melbourne-based national ERP software specialist Evolution Business Systems (EBS) to install and support a solution designed around Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
With more than 220 employees, 13 offices and a multi-million-dollar annual budget, the Victorian-based Catholic social service organisation is funded by both Federal and State governments to support specific activities. Its wide range of disciplines includes homeless support, advocacy for aged housing, mental health and drug rehabilitation programs, marriage counselling programs and employment services.
EBS have good industry experience and have developed a good understanding of the needs and challenges of Not-For-Profit organisations.
Epitomising this complexity, Centacare Ballarat operates 60 different cost centres within its $16 million budget, reflecting different funding programs and agencies, each of which have rigorous reporting requirements. Additionally, Centacare often pays expenses on behalf of its clients, which means that its accounting system has to maintain records for more than 3300 suppliers.
Early in 2010, Centacare Ballarat recognised that its existing accounting software was no longer meeting its needs. A major limitation was MYOB’s inability to load budgets for each cost centre. To prepare monthly reports, data had to be exported to third party software, a process that could take all night,
especially as the data file grew in size near the end of the financial year. Sometimes, this process even crashed during the overnight export.
While MYOB had a wide range of reports, these did not meet the specific needs of a Not For Profit organisation like Centacare Ballarat and could not be modified. The software also had poor network performance and crashed on a regular basis, requiring all users to log out of the system in order to restart it.
Centacare Ballarat finance manager Antony Rucco said the organisation’s requirements had exceeded the capabilities of the software. “Clearly, it was no longer meeting our needs,”
Primary drivers for Centacare Ballarat moving to a new financial system were its need for improved reporting, better network performance and a chart of accounts structure that better aligned with its operational structure.
Mr. Rucco said Centacare Ballarat had examined available financial solutions and sought recommendations about service providers. “There are quite a few good domestic and international products available,” he said.
“One of the reasons for choosing Microsoft Dynamics NAV is that we use a Microsoft platform here. We have a SharePoint intranet; we use the Office suite and Windows. It has a common look, touch and feel with other Microsoft products, which people were familiar with.
“Microsoft Dynamics NAV requires an SQL database engine, which we already had for other programs, so it fitted seamlessly into our infrastructure with no tweaking required. Also, a lot of our configuration requirements were met easily by Microsoft Dynamics NAV.
“Our accounts people are settled in with the new software and find that it’s better to use than the previous application. The system is bedded down now, but we’ve only just scratched the surface of what we can do with it.”
Mr. Rucco said Centacare Ballarat selected Evolution Business Systems (EBS) as its preferred provider based on recommendations and EBS’ professional reputation. “We wanted access to a company that was large enough to meet our needs, yet small enough to be responsive,” he said.
“EBS has been great to work with and delivered the NAV project on budget and one month earlier than first planned. Due to a concerted team effort on both sides and a sound, structured implementation methodology, the project achieve a best-case ‘go live’, which reduced the original implementation time by one third. This significantly reduced the disruption of the changeover and gave us access to a better system quicker.”
Mr. Rucco said major benefits of Microsoft Dynamics NAV were its robustness, its flexibility and its ability to streamline business processes. “For a start, it is very robust,” he said. “Previously, we had problems with MYOB sessions disappearing, which could happen a couple of times a week, forcing everyone to log out. Now, we simply don’t have this application instability occurring, which has saved us a lot of downtime.
“The data and reports in Microsoft Dynamics NAV are very logical and intuitive for finance people and the system has a great search function. It is very easy to export Microsoft Dynamics NAV data to Excel or PDF and it’s simple to manipulate the data. We can also import and export budgets directly with Microsoft Dynamics NAV very easily which has saved us many manual hours of manipulation and configuration of data. A nice feature is we can do sensitivity analyses – creating ‘what if’ scenarios.
Mr. Rucco said the streamlined business processes enabled by Microsoft Dynamics NAV had led to greater responsiveness from the Finance department. “Our month-end reporting process, which used to take 10-12 days to finalise, is now completed in half this time,” he said.
“This improvement allows us to distribute reports electronically to our Finance committee before their meeting, which gives them time to consider the reports and formulate advice to the board.
“By streamlining processes and saving time keying in data, Microsoft Dynamics NAV has given Finance more time to focus on value-added activities for other people in the organisation rather than just count the beans.”
Mr. Rucco said he would feel comfortable recommending Evolution Business Systems to other Not For Profit organisations. “They are starting to build up quite a good portfolio of Not For Profit clients,” he said.