Sparkrock Blog

Nice to Meet You! Why you should be at the next Sparkrock Meetup.

by   Nicola Dickinson on 11.17.17

How many times have you gone to a "networking event" to meet and connect with those in your industry, only to leave feeling overwhelmed and disappointed with the conversations had? Often these events have good intentions to help people build professional relationships, but miss the mark on delivering a quality experience. They are crowded, unstructured, and not specific enough on the focused industry. Well we're here to make a change, and give you the opportunities you've been looking for.

Topics: Finance , Sparkrock , Product Innovation , Support & Success , k12 , Human Services , Networking

Ontario's Bill 148: How will it impact your organization?

by   Stefanie Gause on 11.13.17

With the province of Ontario's announcement that it will hire 175 Employment Standards Officers by 2020, employers can expect more payroll audits in the coming years, and financial penalties for noncompliance to the new employment standards.

It turns out that the Fair Workplaces Act (Bill148) is about a whole lot more than a minimum wage increase. In fact, many of the agencies I work with will not be directly impacted by the wage increase at all, but there are a slew of other changes that will have significant budgetary and operational ramifications. Social and community services agencies need to ensure they are well informed about this legislation before it comes into effect in 2018. 

I strongly recommend fully reading through the proposed changes to the standards (see link above), but I've pulled out a few of the notable amendments for discussion in this article.

Topics: Finance , Workforce

Budgeting Tips and Takeaways for Human Services Leaders

by   Stefanie Gause on 10.24.17

While I was at the Providers' Council Annual Convention in Boston, I attended a great session on NFP budgeting, led by AAFCPAs a local CPA firm. I was struck by their core message - finance needs to be a strategic partner to the rest of the organization. Nonprofits need to think beyond day to day bookkeeping – paying the bills, managing funding contracts, etc. Budgeting is one of those key strategic activities and unfortunately too many NFPs don’t have the time or tools to manage this area of their business effectively. It’s crucial that today’s NFP finance leaders get past transactional work and collaborate with leaders on the program side to help deliver on the organization’s mandate.

Topics: Finance , Outcomes-Impact , Leadership

Key Takeaways from our recent K12 Meetup!

by   Nicola Dickinson on 10.11.17

On September 28th, Sparkrock brought together over 30 attendees, across 12 Ontario school boards, to discuss issues and trends most prevalent in the province, and listen to the amazing guest speakers that were lined up. The day proved to be an exciting and engaging one as we kicked off the event at the Ontario Science Center with an open discussion highlighting key objectives and challenges faced by the boards in Ontario as well as key initiatives designed to increase the Sparkrock K12 ERP solution’s value and effectiveness.

Topics: Finance , Product Innovation , Support & Success , k12

Overtime - The Silent Budget Killer

by   Cait Abernethy on 10.03.17

We’re going to throw a stat at you that might sound ridiculous, but depending on the size of your organization you could be victim to it too: Human Services organizations, on average, end up spending nearly $1 Million dollars annually in overtime pay.

Topics: Finance , Workforce Management , Workforce , Operations

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 Financial 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