AccountsIQ and Enclude enable the Archdiocese of Dublin to go fully digital
The Archdiocese of Dublin is the largest Diocese in Ireland, with 197 parishes and funds under management that require reporting under new charity SORP regulations. The Archdiocese required an accounting solution that would meet their complex reporting needs whilst also providing a user-friendly system that parishes could easily adopt. This allowed a step-change away from paper, spreadsheet and bookkeeping systems. It was an ambitious project primarily due to the number of parishes and users and offering a good user experience was crucial in getting all the parishes digital and consistent in their processes.
The key requirements identified from the strategic review were:
- A highly secure cloud system with inclusive disaster recovery, upgrades and support in one service [SaaS]
- A finance system that is clear for Diocesan and Parish users to set up and easily adopt across the Diocese
- Consolidation of all 197 Parishes into a single reporting charity number was key which also facilitates a simplified internal and external auditing process
- Integration with a custom pastoral management system using API integration
- Extensive budgeting and reporting by department, fund, parish and project through a Business Intelligence layer [BI Layer]
- Systems integration capability to facilitate invoice capture, expense management, banking and approval workflow.
Following the strategic review and tendering process, the Archdiocese appointed AccountsIQ, partnered with Enclude, a non-profit technology consultancy firm, to implement a digital system to integrate pastoral management with accounting and provide consistent, consolidated reporting.
Collaborative and personalised implementation
One of the challenges was the scale of the project. This meant the team getting to know all the people involved and creating a community-based approach to the project given the number of stakeholders involved. Ide Finnegan, Head of Finance and project director for the Archdiocese of Dublin explains:
Implementing AccountsIQ across all our parishes was a very significant project for the Archdiocese. There were challenges along the way, but we received great support from AccountsIQ throughout the process. It particularly helped that the implementation manager was also an accountant who understood what we were trying to do. This made the process much smoother.”
An integrated Salesforce solution
A seamless interface with the Archdiocese’s pastoral management system built in Salesforce was provided along with a custom cash collection form, built and deployed to allow parishes to easily lodge collections automatically into AccountsIQ with built in coding in accordance with SORP. This allows a central view to manage funds for the assets of the various registered charities and the trustees to whom they report. Essentially a simple capture method for the user, allowing complex reporting to be made more efficient.
Simplified consolidation across numerous entities
The Archdiocese required a consolidated financial reporting software across its 197 parishes and trusts. With numerous entities and a high volume of transactions, the consolidation requirements were complex. AccountsIQ’s simple to use, but sophisticated consolidation engine, enabled the Archdiocese to simplify the process by automating much of the consolidation and reducing manual inputs. It also simplified reporting for auditors through consolidated debtor and creditor reports. The Archdiocese is now looking to implement AccountsIQ’s automated accounts payable using OCR technology, the expense capture app and fixed asset register modules to further consolidate their processes.
Meeting the needs of multiple users
The Archdiocese of Dublin has 197 parishes and trusts each with its own Parish Finance Committee and unique user requirements. AccountsIQ understood the requirement for a flexible system that could meet the needs of a wide and varied range of users. AccountsIQ’s user-friendly features facilitated user adoption amongst parishes, particularly amongst users with less experience of Cloud accounting software. In this way, AccountsIQ offers a clear user experience at the front end, while enabling complex accounting solutions on the back end.
We realised early on that we had to offer an accounting solution to parishes that was more than a compliance exercise. With AccountsIQ we could offer them something more, an easy to use template for accounting that cut back on paperwork and saved time on manual processes. This efficiency has positively impacted uptake within parishes,” explains Ide.
A Cloud-led paperless approach to accounting
Cloud technology was a major factor for the Archdiocese in choosing AccountsIQ and Enclude. Previously they had used an on-site system (installed on PCs) which was impractical to roll out to each parish. The finance team recognised that the Cloud would dramatically simplify implementation and provide ongoing benefits for reporting and auditing.
AccountsIQ and Salesforce integrate seamlessly in the Cloud and use secure API technology to transfer data between both systems. This naturally provides an audit trail for donations and the ability to automate direct debit calls, auto-reconcile banks and prepare tax refunds for donations above €250 per annum from generous donors. The bespoke consolidated reports are all accessible through pinned electronic documents, thus cutting back on tedious paperwork. This automated and paperless process also makes life much more efficient for the charity’s auditors.
AccountsIQ’s ongoing development and commitment to R&D means that the system is constantly evolving making it an accounting solution for the future. The Archdiocese anticipates that it will explore more opportunities to benefit from AccountIQ’s evolving suite of tools, particularly the expense module, accounts payable capture and approval, fixed asset register and open banking.
One of the good aspects of AccountsIQ is that it’s constantly improving. The system we started with on day one has evolved significantly. AccountsIQ has delivered the best possible solution to the Diocese and Parishes and continues to release new features and functionality that make our systems efficient and compliant.”
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