Sparkrock Blog

The True Cost of Manual Processes

by   Cait Abernethy on 09.19.17

As a Human Services agency, you’re constantly tasked with “doing more with less.” With tight budgets and even tighter restrictions on how you spend funder dollars, making sure your organization is running as efficiently as possible is a must. In our experience though, most human services organizations are so busy focusing on service delivery and putting out fires that they have little time left to focus on internally-strategic things such as determining the average cost of many of their day to day processes or figuring out more efficient ways to manage these tasks. And, because funding is tight, purchasing a new management system that could automate many of these processes seems too costly so many agencies continue to rely on paper-based or manual methods.

But what is the true cost of completing tasks manually? While the 3-4 minutes it may take to do something simple like walking over a purchase request to a supervisor’s desk for approval may seem insignificant, if you have to do it a couple times a week, and then multiply that by a year, you’d be shocked by how much time you’ll have spent walking back and forth between desks just to do this one minor task. But obtaining approvals isn’t the only offender when it comes to surprisingly-costly manual processes. Some other tasks that add up to significant time and costs wasted are Expense Claims, Purchasing and Inventory Management, Timesheets/Payroll, and Employee Scheduling.

Topics: Finance , Outcomes-Impact , Workforce , Technology

How to Build a Successful K12 ERP Finance Implementation Team

by   Laura Isaac on 08.15.17

So, you're thinking of implementing a new ERP system at your school board? We get it, it can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. The reasons to move to a modern financial system are endless, but the hurdles to get there can seem daunting. No one likes change, and no one has the time to implement change on top of everything else that they have on their plate. Right? Well, I hope that I can shed a bit of light on how we at Waterloo Catholic DSB embarked on our ERP implementation so that it can help you in your upcoming project.

Topics: Finance , k12

5 Signs your ERP System is Failing your Nonprofit Organization

by   Cait Abernethy on 08.04.17

As a nonprofit, you're looking to put every dollar towards your mission. So, it’s likely that when you were first starting out you chose a finance solution that wasn’t too costly or complicated and fit your basic needs. But as your organization grows, tools such as Accpac or Quickbooks may no longer be robust enough to handle the increasing complexity of your budget management or reporting requirements. If you're still using one of these smaller finance and accounting systems, take a second to ask yourself these questions:

Topics: Finance , Technology

5 Brilliant Tips to Avoid a Cash Flow Crisis at your Nonprofit

by   Nicola Dickinson on 06.20.17

Last year, 450 Toronto-area Goodwill workers were locked out  due to a "cash flow crisis" that led to a shutdown of the long-standing charitable organization, delivering a devastating blow both to staff and those who rely most on the non-profit organization.

The question is: why did this venerable Nonprofit, which earned $28.1 million - including more than $4 million from the province of Ontario - in 2014, collapse so suddenly? Goodwill CEO Keiko Nakamura did not provided clear answers, so we can only wonder what may have caused some of these issues.

Since we work with many Nonprofits - helping them leverage the latest in technology to manage their finances effectively - we've decided to pull together 5 ways that your Nonprofit can make sure you don't experience a "cash flow crises" of your own:

Topics: Finance

Why a Role-based Permissions Strategy is Critical for Human Services Agencies

by   Cait Abernethy on 06.02.17

Protecting your network and financial data and ensuring the integrity of sensitive client information rate high on the priority lists of every Human Services agency. In addition, more stringent privacy laws have imposed new levels of confidentiality on institutions that deliver health-related services, and as a result, permissions management has become a critical component in ensuring information security and access control.

Topics: Finance , Workforce Management

Greater Governance for Better School Boards: 3 Actionable Tips

by   Nicola Dickinson on 06.01.17

We know that good governance means you’ve got a good framework for decision-making, set responsibilities and roles for employees and constituents, and a mission to provide students with an education that will set them up for success.

But what about great governance? Taking that extra step towards peak performance boils down to two key factors: is your school board organized, and is your integrity always at 100%?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell. No two school boards govern the exact same way. Governance guidelines are based on anything from past practice, to by-law rules, to pure policy. There’s no baseline for what creating great governance looks like - only a set of expectations that you need to fulfill, and a checklist of results that should be coming to fruition.

So here are some actionable tips for maintaining great governance at your K12 School Board:

Topics: Finance

From the 'First Date' onwards: 3 Important Steps When Picking a School Board ERP

by   Cait Abernethy on 05.17.17

Picking an ERP system to implement in your school board is very similar to picking a significant other. You want them to be reliable, hard-working, easy to deal with, anticipatory of your needs, and – let’s be honest – visually appealing…you’re going to be spending a lot of time with them, after all.

You and your new ERP solution will (hopefully) be entering a long term relationship, so it’s vital that you choose one that meets all of your needs and makes your day to day role easier. Here are three important steps to take when entering into a relationship with a new ERP solution:

Topics: Finance , k12

Searching for a Single Truth: 3 Problems Solved by an Integrated Finance System

by   Meghan Holmes on 05.08.17

We know building financial reports for your organization isn't a fun task, especially when your data is stored in different systems. Having information in multiple systems means you now have to gather and compile financial results and budgets from different sources and then import that data back into your finance system for reporting. This can create a lot of unnecessary headaches for you and your finance team.

Luckily, there's a better way to handle your day-to-day finance activities that will ease your pains and provide you with a single source of truth - the one financial dashboard to rule them all (as Frodo might say).

Topics: Finance

Guide to Hiring an Exceptional Executive Director at your Nonprofit

by   Cait Abernethy on 04.26.17

Hiring an executive director is one of the most important actions that the governing board of a nonprofit agency will take. The board depends on its director to achieve the agency’s purposes and objectives within the constraints of its budget on a day-to-day basis—not an easy task to accomplish year in and year out. Also, the working relationship between the director and the board, the staff, volunteers, clients, funding organizations, and other service agencies can significantly influence the agency’s effectiveness and reputation in the community. But finding a great Executive Director can be a tricky process as they are senior positions, but tend not to be as well paid as in the private sector, meaning that hiring someone who is in it for more than just financial compensation, someone who is in it because of passion, is critical.

 

Topics: Finance , Outcomes-Impact , Workforce Management , Workforce

What's Keeping Nonprofit CFOs Up at Night?

by   Melissa Alvares on 04.03.17

 

In many ways the stress on Nonprofit CFO's is a lot more than their For-Profit counterparts. This is because any finance scandal in the Nonprofit world means that public funds are at stake and, more importantly, the people that were supposed to be helped with those funds do not get served.

Even though there have been some eye-catching headlines in the past with regards to reporting and misuse, in general finance professionals in the Nonprofit sector are highly skilled and have a strong sense of values. Many are also extremely innovative because with limited funds they tend to re-invent traditional business models in order to maximize the money they have to fund their mission.

In a study by American Nonprofits, more than 900 individuals who characterized themselves as CFOs or equivalents were surveyed about their job. Here are some of the key findings related to what's keeping them up at night:

Topics: Finance

5 Questions Every K12 School Board Should Ask their Technology Provider before Purchasing Software

by   Nicola Dickinson on 03.21.17

Ontario school boards do everything they can to keep their employees happy and create safe and effective learning environments for their students. At the same time, these boards operate with limited administrative budgets, so every penny counts and being productive is very important. This means that choosing the right technology partner for your Finance, HR and Payroll needs can be a daunting task. It takes a lot of time to evaluate vendors and trust that the company pitching you a solution is the best one for you. That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the 5 most important questions you should ask any solution provider before purchasing their software:

Topics: Finance , Technology , k12