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How to NOT Turn Data into Actionable Insights

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When nonprofit organizations use their data properly it creates a huge competitive advantage because they’re making critical business decisions on real-life numbers that are aligned with their mission. With the amount of data in the world (2,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes are generated every day to be exact), this is easier said than done. Let’s look at some common bad habits in reporting, and how Sage Intacct’s powerful reports and dashboards help create a data analytics revolution for nonprofit accounting.

 

Poor Processes

Julian Lombardo, a certified accountant, and manager with Forbes Andersen Technology, shares a story of the impact he’s personally felt from working with inefficient reporting and dashboards, “From my own experience, I managed provincial and federal funding at an NPO which contained various reporting requirements. It always took hours, and it was stressful to prepare the funding documents. Everything was manually exported into Excel which then needed to be validated and analyzed.”

 

When it comes to a nonprofit’s key performance indicators (KPIs), Sage Intacct tracks these critical metrics by configuring real-time data to display on personalized reports and dashboards. Management can choose the right KPIs that matter to them and their job. For example, the founder of a nonprofit can’t make strategic decisions based on the donor conversion rate or program efficiency decisions based on employee hours spent per program. They need to know revenue visibility or operational efficiency.

 

Too Much Data

In case you weren’t already tracking, we are in a constant state of information overload, both at work and in our personal lives. This is especially true in the nonprofit world where we’re busy collecting and organizing data on donations, grants, donor contacts, campaigns, expenses, income, volunteer hours, and so much more. This information is important! However, sometimes, having too much of it interferes with service delivery. Most people feel like throwing everything onto a report provides a better picture of what’s going on, but actually, the opposite is true. If the data doesn’t drive clear and informed decisions, then it’s likely useless and possibly doing more harm than good.

 

Sage Intacct helps nonprofits solve this problem by allowing users to customize and filter out data by a variety of dimensions that are especially important to nonprofits – role-specific responsibilities, program areas, locations, funding sources, and more. This ensures users get only the information they need or are authorized to have. Using Sage Intacct, finance leaders can maintain with ease various fund, grant, and donor reporting, which is typically very cumbersome with most other disjointed nonprofit accounting systems. With an ERP for nonprofits, you don’t need to fight with multiple system reports when gathering information because it does this automatically within one centralized platform.

 

Not Enough Data

With the immense amount of data that’s out there now, static reports don’t cut it anymore. They don’t provide enough information to make informed decisions. Instead, the user requests another report from a different department, which sometimes takes days. Finally, when you get the report in hand, the data is outdated and you’re no closer to the answer than you were before.

 

Sage Intacct’s drill-down capabilities allow all its users to slice and dice the data and view it from different angles. This provides a more holistic view of the nonprofit’s financial health without added work and delay. Finance leaders can easily provide board members and executives with greater transparency and insightful reporting with tailored views, automated reporting, and drill-down capabilities.

 

Bad Data

Data-driven decisions based on erroneous data are often worse than making no decisions at all and cost the U.S. around $3 trillion per year. Sage Intacct’s ERP for nonprofits offers open APIs to connect your business to applications that house external data, like CRM information, and payroll or budget data. Keeping all your data in one centralized platform means you don’t have to go fishing for information, then spend time compiling it in an understandable way. Leave the reporting to automation and minimize human intervention to reduce the chance of errors and basing decisions on bad data.

 

Speaking from Experience

Continuing with Lombardo’s real-world story he says, “Having a system set up correctly from the start would have saved 6-8 hours of my time, provided accurate and timely reporting, and would have allowed me to focus my efforts on other areas such as budget management.”

 

Sage Intacct’s ERP for nonprofits helps their finance leaders deepen the impact of decision-making and improve finance operational efficiency and effectiveness. We’ve been in the nonprofit accounting business for years, and so have first-hand experience with the troubles of inflexible and inaccurate dashboards and reporting. Numbers are important to any business, but this is especially true with nonprofits, where every dollar counts.

 

Finance leaders can evolve from a gatekeeper to an accelerator with better data for decision-making and more time with reducing excessive manual data entry. Being able to use strategic skills and focus on the big picture to achieve the nonprofit organization’s mandate is a rewarding experience and Sage Intacct is the catalyst to making it happen! Let our team at Forbes Andersen Technology show you how.

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