Canadian Baptist Ministries is a global mission organization committed to sharing God’s love through word and deed. They believe that God brings healing to a broken world through local churches. With over 140 years of experience, they have seen that words and deeds intertwined in Christian community work together to bear witness to God’s transforming grace.
Their primary mission is to partner with local churches around the world to bring hope, healing and reconciliation through word and deed, and are dedicated to developing sustainable ministries with their partners which enable them to increase their long-term capacity.
What was holding them back?
Previous to implementing their Sparkrock solution, Canadian Baptist Ministries struggled with providing transparency and accountability from their legacy DOS-based system, Accpac. The software was too cumbersome to allow them to optimize fund and grant management, provide budgetary control, or manage complex reporting requirements, and manual processes were slowing down their efficiencies.
This solution did not integrate well with their other management software, with specific issues arising between their financial and donor management systems. There was a lot of manual intervention needed to manage grant and funding related processes and it was taking them long periods of time to close the books. Not only was CBM’s old system non-integrated, but it was also partially paper-based and involved Excel spreadsheets and the need to import and export large amounts of data from disparate systems. Expenses were coming in from the field mainly in a manual format, and then they would have to manually tie the two together in their systems. Of course, because this process was paper-based and not automated it took a lot of extra time and manual effort to be able to match their expenses and revenues.
Their close dates took anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks beyond receiving the financial information into their organization, and they quickly grew to realize that a world class organization could not accept this delay as a standard any longer. With statutory pressures growing, they realized they needed to be able to understand their revenue streams and budgets in real-time if they wanted to have the maximum impact on their mission and the lives of the people they serve, and this triggered them to begin to look for a system that was better-tailored towards their specific needs as a Nonprofit.
How we helped
Now that CBM has their Sparkrock Finance Management system implemented and stable, Rob Jackett, Director of Administration for CBM notes that "the Sparkrock solution works really well because it’s a fully integrated solution right from revenue back into the back end. As soon as you input a piece of information or know the piece of information is live, the data flows seamlessly across the system and you can see exactly where you stand in regards to financials and revenue. The ability to access this information quickly, trust the integrity of our data, and close our books in a timely manner - we’re now closing our books in 10 days as opposed to 4-6 weeks - is a really great change."
Even just the level of discussion needed to implement the solution brought CBM closer together. It’s forced the organization’s different departments to talk more and cooperate when internal processes and actions need to be coordinated, requiring a more involved team approach to the tasks of the organization. If one department makes a mistake, another department will catch it – increasing data integrity and reducing inaccuracies they used to struggle with.
How they now leverage technology to serve more people
One of the largest advantages of switching to Sparkrock's Finance and Accounting solution is that CBM can now easily access up-to-the-minute financial information. "One of the things we’re able to do now that we weren’t before" notes Jackett, "is that we’re able to get to important data that we weren’t before, or if we could get to it then it was in streams of paper – the report would be 100 pages long. Now we’re able to data mine in a much more effective and efficient manner, so we’ve reduced our cost of administration and reduced our cost of analysis. We’re quicker and can make smarter and more timely decisions."
The project management module implemented by Sparkrock is also very important to CBM’s ministry. All of the history of the project revenue that’s coded within the system is there. There’s a project card which details all of the information regarding the project in terms of the project number, the description of the project, who the beneficiaries of the project are, who the leads are on the project (both from an internal and an external partner perspective), descriptions of what the activities are, along with any reporting that comes back. All of this documentation is able to be easily attached within the module, so anyone who has access to the system - and they have people that access the system from different locations around the world - are able to go in and get the details of the project. This feature, to be able to have that information readily accessible and up-to-date, is critical to their successful program delivery at the management level, the project level, and the program level.
Ultimately, the better and easier the administrative team can do their work, the less time field workers have to spend doing admin or paper work, worrying about staff getting paid, or questioning the integrity of their data. This gives them more time and resources to spend on their programs and provides better services and support to the people they serve around the world.