Innovative approach to multi-dimensional reporting killer AccountsIQ feature for Arts charity, Artichoke Trust
Artichoke Trust is a charitable organisation which works with artists to create large-scale public art events across the UK. Artichoke’s ambitious outdoor art projects include the Lumiere light festivals and Antony Gormley’s One & Other Fourth Plinth commission. As a charity managing multiple projects at once, each with varying budgets and funding sources, Artichoke Trust has unique accounting requirements when it comes to project accounting which need to be SORP compliant. In particular, it requires a granular level of detail to ensure accurate recording of core project costs as well as the ability to record project costs against phases.
Neil Goulder, Director of Finance & Operations at Artichoke Trust, had been using Sage Financials as his accounting tool but admits it had a “number of serious shortcomings”. When he learned of Sage’s plan to withdraw the product, it was an opportunity to look around for alternatives which might better fit his particular requirements in Project Accounting and provide the structure he needs for SORP compliance. Neil says,
I started to look for a good Cloud-based replacement that is strong on dimensional reporting and analysis codes. Among a dozen candidates was AccountsIQ. I took a peek at a demo system and really liked it. Great, scalable product, with an innovative approach to multi-dimensional coding.
‘Conditional’ dimensions for accurate posting
Strong dimensional analysis is key for Neil. AccountsIQ allows for up to six customisable dimensions linked to a unique BI code, plus an infinite number of codes that can be assigned to each dimension. Reporting is possible across all dimensions and codes. AccountsIQ’s key strength is that only valid permutations of Analysis Codes can be used when data is input, which significantly reduces the risk of human error when it comes to tracking costs. Neil explains,
Dimensions are really important to us. We looked at Sage 50, but that only had two dimensions. We needed at least four, covering cost centres; projects; project phases; and individual light installations. There are some very expensive systems which can do it but there aren’t many affordable systems which offer this level of flexibility. That was an absolute ‘must’ from our point of view. AccountsIQ is the only product I’ve seen that allows you to create these ‘conditional’ dimensions.
Greater efficiency through automation and streamlined workflow
AccountsIQ features an automated bank reconciliation functionality that has helped Neil speed up the period end reconciliation process.
I really like the way the Bank Rec module works. The system with Sage Financials was so overcomplicated we never used it and worked in spreadsheets instead. AccountsIQ is very straightforward. I like the way it recognises past transactions and fills in as much of the information as it can, which really speeds up the process.
Neil is able to upload paperwork against transactions which makes it much easier to provide information to auditors and also facilitate a mostly paperless environment. Ultimately, AccountsIQ enables Neil to keep all of his data in one place, largely automated, without the need for other spreadsheets or manual processes.
With smart use of the dimensions coding structure, I can get every piece of information needed into AccountsIQ so that I don’t have to maintain control accounts manually in Excel. It saves us a huge amount of time.
Ease of access to data for SORP reporting
AccountsIQ’s Excel Add-in offers further efficiencies for Neil, allowing him to use a real-time data link from AccountsIQ to create tables in Excel which are fed into the SORP compliant statutory accounts prepared in Word. This means updates are refreshed instantly as changes are made to Statutory accounts.
AccountsIQ is brilliant at accommodating the structure needed for the SORP. We pull the information into our format live from AccountsIQ through Excel. It’s an incredibly quick and efficient process.
Having initially set an ambitious release target of two weeks, Neil was able to implement AccountsIQ at Artichoke Trust in a record-breaking two days. This was in large part due to Neil’s own tenacity in getting to grips with the BI codes and how they could best be mapped to his needs. AccountsIQ’s development team gave Neil access to a test system so he could model the BI codes before going live. He had also exported and cleaned the static data from his old accounting system such as customer information, bank account details, and the nominal ledger structure. This level of preparation allowed Neil to go live with AccountsIQ so quickly. He says,
I hoped we might break all records and implement it in a fortnight as our new accounting year started on the First of April. I signed a contract Wednesday morning and we went live at 4:30 the next day.
Summing up his experience
The elements that have really made a difference are AccountsIQ’s innovative implementation of analysis codes, the attaching of invoices, and the bank reconciliation module. These are things I didn’t have before, and they work beautifully. These features have made the biggest difference to the way I work, giving me the information I need. Of all of these, BI codes are the absolute killer feature that puts AccountsIQ head and shoulders above the competition.
AccountsIQ solves the often complex accounting and reporting challenges of many charities and works with Enclude a charity technology consultancy based in Ireland. See how our charity accounting software helps over 100 not for profit organisations, such as Whales and Dolphin Conservation and Hampshire Cultural Trust.
Read our blog on automating finance for charities.