Altus Dynamics Blog

Top 5 Areas to Take Into Account when Choosing a New ERP Solution

Posted by James Faw on Jan 8, 2014 11:00:00 AM

For many in the Human Services sector, the main focus is on the client and community, as it should be. However without a solid social services software system supporting and monitoring operations, that work becomes far more difficult than it ought to be. Financial management information forms the foundation of any business, whether they are commercially oriented or not. Organizations achieve better performance and planning when financial management data is measured precisely and then made available to decision-makers within and beyond the finance department.

Beyond just bookkeeping functions, effectively managed financial management information enables organisations such as community living organizations to plan, forecast, and track performance toward objectives. Funder reporting becomes less of a cumbersome task and shifts the reporting process from clerical to analytical. Financial management data can help keep individuals and teams focused on tasks that add high value, while providing the information needed to enhance collaboration. But what should social services groups be considering when it comes to the kinds of financial management solutions they should have in place to carry out their work in the community? We’ve outlined 5 areas to consider;

1. Only one version of the truth

It is amazing how many organizations maintain and manage multiple systems and records, both within the same site and across remote locations. This makes it incredibly difficult to see the overall, big picture of what is happening in the organization. A financial management solution houses all the data within an organisation makes a significant contribution to forecasting precision and worker productivity by creating a “single truth”—a core data set upon which all reporting and analytics can be based. Without a single version of their data, organizations can spend too much time trying to reconcile conflicting data instead of forming the strategies to run operations that the data should be guiding.

2. Reporting

Whatever social services software solution an organization has in place is no good if it is just a glorified data graveyard. The information needs to be complete and readily accessible in order to run and produce reports, specific to the requirements of the organization and to funders. This is where the true value can be realised. The better the integrated reporting application and the larger the data store, the greater the value decision-makers can pull from the data and the more responsive the organization can be to funders. A reporting solution should provide the basic recurring reports such as accounts receivable, monthly wages’ activity, program reports and cash flow statements. Additionally it should support the ability to customize existing reports and create entirely new ones to better share relevant data across teams, regional groups, case workers or other stakeholders. Additionally having the ability to empower your staff to access their own specific reports via online portals or dashboards enhances the efficiency of the system and frees up other support staff in finance. Online dashboards with the ability to personalize help to give data instantly with intuitive drill down for your users to analyze and understand. Dashboards with key performance indicators, list forms for analysis and graphs helps to support an analytical and productive work environment.

3. Intelligence supporting better decision-making

With access to financial information, organizations can make better, more informed operational decisions. For a variety of people - top executives, programme leaders, analysts, and local agency managers - success can hinge on having ready access to the most current and complete financial data possible. Integrating data from across the organisation can yield rich insights that might otherwise remain obscured. Financial information gains even more value when it can be exported to a say Microsoft Excel, for further analysis, or searched and categorized by integrated Business Intelligence (B.I) applications. With built in workflows for budget checking and approval processing, employees get real time access to budget status as expenses are incurred. Employee self-service portals provide a simple look with web-based access that supports efficient and productive work environment. As Social Service Sector organizations look toward longer-term planning, they will need data from a unified data store that can be queried and analyzed to help them identify areas for improvement and to capitalize on new opportunities.

4. Integrated payroll processing

Employee management and payroll processing are highly critical processes in a social services organization. Today, employee turnover and attrition is a challenge in social service organizations making solutions and systems ever more important to maintain and sustain operations. Whether there is a union or it’s a non-union environment, tracking positions, rates, wages and complex grids to handle shift differentials creates complexity for successful payroll management. Time entry solutions and scheduling are also key to the successful management of employees and processing of payroll. Integration of schedules, timesheets, positions, payroll and integration of the payroll to the GL is critical to create efficient processes and optimize operational velocity. Managing separate systems to manage these processes can cause severe delays, user unhappiness and IT challenges for growth and sustainability.

5. Effective Client Management

Managing the data around your stakeholders, from patients to volunteers is key for social service agencies effectiveness in their community. Having a real time handle on client outcomes, independent living plans and programs helps to report on the success of the social services organization. Integration of client management also ensures success and ease to accomplish fee reimbursement and funder reporting. A robust contact management solution is a good starting point and platform to build and track client profiles, related programs, staff involvement and reporting outcomes. Integration to other core contact tools like email and spreadsheets or word documents help with letter acknowledgements, lists, and communication tracking which are key components for successful contact relationship management and positive interactions with the community.

To learn more join us on January 16th at 2.30pm EST for a 60 minute webinar on the subject.

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This Post Was Written By James Faw
James Faw is a Founding Partner at Sparkrock. With a diverse background in Systems, Development and Enterprise Application Integration, James fulfills his role as solution visionary at Sparkrock and to our customers. James’ successes have granted him recognition as a visionary within our industry. Currently, James is focused on building winning business solutions through future product development.
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