When evaluating new accounting software, Nonprofit Finance Directors are increasingly interested in understanding how quickly they will see a return on investment (ROI) following their investment.
Superior Nonprofit Accounting Software ROI Equals Good Stewardship
Whether your funds come from grants, donations, fees or a combination of sources, an enormous amount of work went into receiving those funds. Spending funds usually means thoughtful analysis in weighing the cost against the benefit. Investment in the right tools and technology can improve financial reporting and processes, programs, and servicing constituents. That’s why nonprofit accounting software ROI is such an important calculation when evaluating fund accounting solutions. Savvy Finance Directors are looking for superior ROI when selecting a new nonprofit accounts solution – and many of them are finding the best results with cloud-based, AICPA endorsed Intacct Financial Accounting.
Where to Look for Nonprofit Accounting Software ROI
Save time with automated and streamlined processes Typically the biggest payoff comes from the time saved with automated and streamlined processes that come with Intacct. That means you can continue to operate effectively without adding additional headcount to accounting and be poised for growth without the growing pains.
Higher employee productivity With low value activities automated, staff members can tackle more strategic projects, better prepare for board meetings, assist program managers with what-if scenarios, play a more advisory role in budgeting, delve into key metrics to assist the development team in better campaigns, provide key outcome measurements for website content – the list goes on and on. Not only will the accounting team enjoy greater productivity, they can help other organization managers become more productive and effective through the insight they will gain from better data more quickly delivered.
Real time visibility Speaking of better data more quickly delivered, the dimensional aspect of Intacct reporting combined with user-defined dashboards means that executive management, department heads, board members and anyone else you care to connect, can have real time access to the data, financial, and metrics that are key to their area of concern.
Develop directors can have a dashboard providing real time fundraising campaign results, the day’s top donors, year over year campaign effectiveness, actual to budget, fundraising effectiveness, to name just a few. They can determine the key metrics they wish to see.
Likewise program managers can have a dashboard providing budget information, outcome measurements, program financials, and quarter-by-quarter performance. It’s up to them. What does your Executive Director wish to see? What does your Board what to keep tabs on? With Intacct, you can work with them to create a dashboard that gives them the real time information they need. When equipped with accurate, up-to-the-minute data, managers are in a much better position to make the best decisions regarding their programs leading to better outcomes and better service to constituents, which is the most important ROI result.
Anytime, anywhere access With a cloud-based solution, it doesn’t matter where system end-users are. As long as your team has access to the Internet and a browser (and assigned permission to access the system), they can log in to the system and perform their duties from home, from the field, or while attending a conference. This means productivity won’t come to a screeching halt due to inclement weather or work-related travel. Reclaiming what would have been lost hours is another contribution to greater ROI.
No infrastructure and on-going operational costs Later on in this article, we’ll give you a break down comparing “on-premises” software to “cloud” (also referred to SaaS or On-Demand) on-going cost comparison. But consider this, when nonprofits opt for cloud-based solution (and most RFPs and inquiries we’re seeing include cloud requirements) a big chunk of the ROI comes from the organization no longer having to sink money into the hardware, network, servers, etc., that have been an on-going requirement in the past for on-premises solutions.
No additional upgrade costs Legacy, on-premises software (usually designed in the ‘80s) publishers deliver upgrades on an annual basis. More often than not, these upgrades necessitate a disruption of use and help outside technology partners and/or IT staff to install the upgrade. Third party technology partners typically charge a fee to conduct the upgrade and there’s the need for scheduling the upgrade. Because the process involves getting everyone off the system, it might be handled over a weekend to minimize work disruption. This cost and disruption disappears when a nonprofit moves to a cloud-based system.
Continuous product innovation One of the things nonprofits using Intacct really like is the continuous product innovation. The only cloud-based accounting solution endorsed by the AICPA, Intacct has been vigorous in adding features and functionality. Even better, it’s all done behind the scenes, which means no interruptions (or additional cost) for solution upgrades. Every time you log in you’re logging into the most recent version of the software. And all enhancements are added when they’re available (not once every year). Cloud solution providers are keenly aware you can cancel your subscription. They must continuously earn your business and ongoing innovation is means by which they bring increased value to your subscription.
Industrial-grade infrastructure with guaranteed service levels and operational excellence By moving to the cloud, your solution and data will be hosted on state-of-the-art servers residing in the most technologically advanced hosting facilities. With Intacct, this comes with guaranteed service levels and operational excellence. It also means a level of server-level security that would be cost-prohibitive for all but a few organizations to attempt to replicate. Back-ups are conducted automatically and data recovery is safeguarded. Disasters are not something we think about when we’re engaged in our day-to-day responsibilities and activities. But recent, widespread events, from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy, from devastating floods to wild fires, have shown how organizational information can be destroyed or drastically impaired leading to an interruption in services when constituents can least afford it. Hosting in the cloud is a potent insurance measure that would enable you to get the organization information systems up and running as quickly as possible and continue with your mission.
Ongoing Cost Comparison
Because of the dramatic difference in technology and software solution delivery, when comparing the cost of cloud solutions and on-premises solution it’s important to factor in the total cost of ownership – not simply the cost of the software (which is only the tip of the iceberg as depicted below). Here is a graphical representation of total costs based on research by the Yankee Group DecisionNote Technology Analysis.
In order to get an accurate picture of what the short term and ongoing costs will be to your nonprofit, you need to determine the dollar amounts that correspond to each segment of the “iceberg”. Then total the cost of all the segments and see, when all cost factors are estimated, which will be the more expensive investment – which has a higher TCO (total cost of ownership). At this point, the estimated ROI should be considered as an offset to the TCO. Based on those calculations, you’ll know which solution is the better investment.
JOSEPH EVE Works With You to Document Nonprofit Accounting Software ROI
When work with organizations, we assist them in calculating nonprofit accounting software ROI. We also offer our Finance Transformation services to help you analyze your current workflows to identify areas of improvement and cost savings. We understand that you don’t want to be wrapped up in months’ of evaluation that disrupts and distracts your operations. On the other hand, you won’t realize the cost-savings available if you simply automate less-than-ideal processes. So we aim to conduct a thorough review as quickly as possible, documenting the process for you and ultimately delivering a policies and procedures manual for your operation.
Cloud implementations are known for their rapid deployments. We’ll work with you to keep the disruptions and distractions to a minimum. Soon you’ll be enjoying easy-to-use financial accounting software – and with better automation of processes and workflow, you’ll spend less time on the minutia and more time on the strategic needs of your nonprofit organization.