Alongside their commitment to supporting a better life for everyone affected by epilepsy, national charity Epilepsy Action must contend with some complex financial management challenges. Multiple sources of income, stringent controls over spending and restricted fund requirements, to name a few. That’s before we throw the cost-of-living crisis and an increasingly difficult fundraising environment into the mix.
Undaunted by such challenges, Tony Spinks, Director of Corporate Services with Epilepsy Action, decided to re-assess the systems and processes that would enable the charity to thrive no matter what. His #1 priority was the need to improve management reporting. In particular, he wanted real-time data to make better, quicker decisions about how they allocate resources.
“We need to be absolutely on top of our financial position. We need complete visibility of what income and expenditure we have coming down the line to make the best decisions for the people who rely on our services. We were using Sage50; it was functional but wasn’t giving us the next level of management reporting we needed.”
Epilepsy Action needed a mid-market accounting solution
With lots of options on the market, choosing a new finance system can be mind boggling. As Tony recognised, Sage 50 is good for start-ups. But Epilepsy Action is a medium-sized organisation with around 70 staff, and they needed the next step up. However, when Tony looked at the Microsoft products and NetSuite, he concluded, “we didn’t need anywhere near that.”
When an invite to an AccountsIQ demo webinar landed in Tony’s in-box, he took 30 minutes out of his day to watch.
“I thought ‘this could be the answer to my problem’. I got in touch and started the journey. The more I saw of the system, the more I was convinced AccountsIQ was what we needed.”
Changing finance system is not as scary as many people think
Epilepsy Action went live with AccountsIQ on 1 January 2023. In the run-up to go-live, Tony and his team structured their training around the AIQ Academy online learning platform. To make it more effective and enjoyable, they introduced a practical, team-based approach to the training.
“The Academy videos are great, but we learn best by doing. We sat down as a team for an hour every Friday to put what we’d learnt into practice. For example, we’d watch the video about how to approve purchase invoices and then go and actually do it. AccountsIQ provide a test environment so it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, you’re not messing with live data, and you can’t break it.”
Once they’d got to grips with the extra coding functionality that AccountsIQ provides, Tony and his team found the rest of the process of changing finance system easy.
“AccountsIQ is easy to use and our implementation consultant, Helen, was great. Her catchphrase was ‘we’ll just get it done!’ I found the whole process really easy. It’s not as scary as people make out.”
Three months down the line and all the transactional processes are running smoothly. The team are already noticing some significant time saving, particularly around the purchasing processes which used to be very manual. Now, they’re looking at where they can make even more efficiency gains.
“Automating processes is already saving us a huge chunk of time but there’s lots more time saving to come. I’ve got the OData connector working and I’m building the reporting templates. It’s this combination of time saving and financial visibility that will allow us to do more data analysis and really add value to our organisation. Everything I wanted is starting to happen.”
Register for our webinar: How will your charity prosper in the cost-of-living crisis?
Our next Charity Finance webinar is 26 April 11am. AccountsIQ Business Development Manager, Andrew Faulkner, will be discussing how charities like yours are using AccountsIQ to ensure they have complete financial visibility to make better informed operating decisions and navigate uncertain times.
We’re delighted to be joined by our special guest, Marlene Terblanche, Finance Manager with London Early Years Foundation. She’ll be sharing her experience of implementing AccountsIQ across LEYF’s 40 nurseries.