By Paul Sparkes, commercial director at true-cloud accounting software provider, iplicit.
Growing charities with complex financial needs require an agile solution that increases productivity and frees up man hours to focus on the things that truly matter – helping to enhance its mission impact.
To assist in achieving this, many charities have adopted cloud technology solutions that offer greater functionality, uptime capability, and better security. At the entry-level, the rise of Xero and QuickBooks shows no signs of slowing down, with larger organisations investing in the likes of Dynamics and NetSuite to help manage their day-to-day.
But what about medium-sized charities?
That costly, outdated on-premise tech that’s sat in the corner of the office is becoming something of an anomaly. Finally, there is a cloud-native proposition that makes sense for the charity finance departments whose requirements are beyond entry-level systems and who don’t have budgets for tools that have been designed for organisations with 500 staff or more.
So, what are the red flags you need to watch out for that tell you it’s time to switch accounting software providers and embrace true cloud?
1. You rely on manual processes
When it comes to day-to-day finance tasks within your charity – think expense submissions and approvals, or partial VAT calculations – are you relying on email trails, Post-It notes, or ‘verbals’ to track and complete them?
If so, this should trigger a warning that something isn’t quite right.
Applying Excel-based, short-term fixes, and manual workarounds to maintain your legacy systems isn’t going to help your charity grow and thrive – it’s going to hold it back.
It’s also the biggest tell-tale sign that you’re ‘making do’ with insufficient functionality.
Therefore, if your employees are spending lots of time manually inputting data, it’s time to look at another solution. This will not only help your teams to save time – with intuitive workflows and process automation – but it will also reduce the potential for human error.
2. You’re fighting to gain valuable insights
Are you finding it difficult to locate accurate data that really matters – and that would help departmental leaders to make organisation-critical decisions?
Are you spending weeks compiling donor, trustee, and fund reports manually, using myriad Excel spreadsheets along the way?
If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to either of these questions, you’ve most definitely outgrown your current finance solution.
Modern-day charities need actionable insights in seconds, not weeks, and the data needs to be available in real-time to deliver true value – no matter how many locations or legal entities are involved.
With a true cloud, charity-specific system, making trend-spotting far simpler and decision-making swifter – helping to drive income growth and operational efficiency forward quicker and more efficiently.
3. You’re unable to do your job from home
For charities with multiple sites across the globe and multiple legal entities to manage, flexibility and ‘access from anywhere’ is crucial.
If you need to go into the office to approve a document or gain access to a file, this is indicative of a restrictive, clunky, and unagile finance system.
Cloud-native accounting technology, on the other hand, supports the geographical flexibility of authorised users being able to access intuitive dashboards, reports with real-time data, and documents from any location. You could call it an ‘enabler’ when it comes to hybrid and remote working models.
4. You’re struggling with system integration
While integration between on-premise systems was commonplace for many years, trying to connect on-premise technology with other cloud-native applications is practically impossible by virtue of the architectural challenges and the security threats posed.
Nowadays, charities are increasingly using a variety of cloud-based applications to run their daily operations – including donor, membership, grant management systems, and other organisation-critical software – meaning they require seamless integration and high-speed/highly secure remote working access.
If this is a pain point for you, it’s probably a sign you’ve outgrown your current system and need to migrate to a true cloud solution.
5. You’re paying too much to maintain the system
If your provider keeps invoicing you at the end of each month, or year, with additional fees for system upgrades, maintenance, and feature add-ons, it’s time to step back and evaluate the technology’s return on investment.
As every sector professional knows, charities’ budgets must be controlled tightly, and each penny must work as hard as it can for the financial stability of the organisation.
A thorough understanding of the cost model is vital to ensure spending stays on track and income generation remains a priority, but if you experience unaccounted costs, this can severely impact your operations.
True cloud providers, which operate a monthly subscription model, and whose maintenance and upgrade costs are included within this, offer a more transparent and future-proofed option, which can help to prevent any ‘nasty surprises’.
To find out more about iplicit’s cloud-native finance software and some of the charities that use it, visit the website.