Serenic Recognized as an “Innovator” in Financial Management

Tribal Government

Vendor Landscape for the Native American Technology Research Center

The Info-Tech Research Group recently released its new Vendor Landscape for the Native American Technology Research Center. We are excited to share that Serenic received high scores and has been recognized as an “Innovator” in the report titled, “Vendor Landscape: Financial Management Solutions.” Serenic is the only software provider to receive an overall “Exemplary” product rating for our nonprofit accounting software, Serenic Navigator. The vendor report helps orgs find the best fit for their needs based on functionality and value for their investment.

The Innovator category identifies software providers that have demonstrated innovative product strengths which act as their competitive advantage in appealing to niche segments such as tribal governments.

Comprehensive Financial Solution for Tribal Orgs

The report notes that Serenic Navigator is a comprehensive financial solution built on Microsoft Dynamics NAV and that, together with our partner Finley and Cook, we bring strong fund accounting, grant management, and GASB compliant reporting tools to tribal organizations like the Muscogee (Creek) Tribal Nation of Indians.

“Tribes looking for a comprehensive solution and a knowledgeable, dedicated vendor should definitely consider Serenic Navigator,” the report states, adding that, “The solution would be particularly useful for any tribes that need flexible accessibility into their solution through the use of Web Client or mobile desktops.”

Info-Tech Research Group Vendor Landscape reports help enterprise IT decision-makers identify a short list of vendors for their IT programs depending on their needs. Included are only those vendors which the Info-Tech Research Group would recommend to their clients. Serenic was one of eight vendors that made the list!

View the full report and share with your colleagues.

The Role of Nonprofit Accounting Software in Time Bound Philanthropy

Some philanthropies focus on long-term goals—raising money for cancer research, fostering democracy, eradicating hunger, etc. It’s not expected that the nonprofits and NGOs with these types of missions should achieve their goals right away. Their missions are not generally bound by hard deadlines or specific timeframes, as long as they continually endeavor to reach their overall tasks.

Other philanthropies are focused on giving help to those that need it now. These organizations are time bound: they have to worry about providing services quickly and effectively, because often people’s lives are at stake.

Both types of philanthropy are incredibly important, and they often complement each other. For example, a nonprofit or NGO that provides medical care to affected populations during an outbreak of a deadly disease (such as the current Ebola crisis in Africa) is reliant on the long-term focused philanthropies that work on developing better treatments and possible cures.

The Importance of Easy, Clear Reporting

A time bound organization typically has the same accounting needs as other nonprofits and NGOs. Transparency and accurate reporting are necessary for the success of any nonprofit, but time bound organizations are especially vulnerable to delays and inaccuracies in their financial information, given their need to make big decisions quickly and access funds immediately. They need any time, anywhere access to current, reliable data.

Time bound philanthropy is often incredibly stressful, especially during a crisis. Delayed access to funding or concerns about budget overruns should be the last thing on the minds of the staff on the front lines of a health disaster.Numbers And Finance

When it’s time to strategize and report, nonprofits and NGOs need accounting software that is quick and easy to use, complete with features such as:

  • Compatibility across departments and funding organizations
  • Automatic language and currency tools
  • Instant access to critical, real-time financial information
  • Accessible from anywhere on the globe

The right financial management software helps organizations have a stronger impact on their mission. Choose nonprofit accounting software that takes away from the stress of running a nonprofit, rather than adding to it.

photo credit: kenteegardin via photopin cc

Empowering Democracy Through Transparency and Accountability

Serenic Software’s tagline is “Empower Your Mission.” We believe that our software solutions are instrumental in helping nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations pursue their missions throughout the world.

And while each of the organizations Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 2.18.53 PMwe work with has a unique mission, all share a passion for the democratic process, as exemplified by their strong desire to provide transparency and accountability to the people they serve. As Rick Cohen of Nonprofit Quarterly put it, “Nonprofits, we hope and believe, are the bedrock of democracy and mechanisms for democratic participation.”

In a world where the economic elite and special interest groups hold the greatest sway over politicians and policy decisions, nonprofits play a vital role in promoting democracy and empowering individuals to exercise their right to be heard.

Nonprofits and Philanthropies Can Exert Political Influence

The Encarta Dictionary defines a democracy as “the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, often practiced by electing representatives of the people by the majority of the people.”

Even though all nonprofits and philanthropies are not politically focused or motivated, all are perfectly suited to enhance democracy, in large part because they so often encourage people to participate in government. For example, Rock the Vote does an excellent job of fostering democracy without subscribing to any single political ideology.

The structure of nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations is also decidedly democratic, allowing input and direction from all levels, along with a strong commitment to transparency and accountability. And because of the grassroots nature of nonprofits and philanthropies, change can be enacted swifter than in government and the for-profit business sector.

Technology Has Revolutionized Accountability

Advances in technology have given average citizens another set of tools they can use to demand greater accountability, not just from government, but also from private businesses and nonprofit organizations, thereby increasing their individual influence on the democratic process.

“Inside every device and every piece of software is the DNA of both democracy and transparency,” wrote Chris Gates, Executive Director of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE), in the forward to “Philanthropy and the Limits of Accountability: A Relationship of Respect and Clarity.”

By taking full advantage of nonprofit accounting software, nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations can hold themselves to a higher, more democratic standard.

Accountability to the People Nonprofits Serve

Transparent reporting is vital to fostering relationships of trust with donors, but accountability is equally important to the very people nonprofits serve. Through transparent accounting, nonprofits can make themselves accountable not only to donors, but to the communities they operate in.

Accountability is perhaps the most important factor in a democracy—without it, citizens can’t effectively exercise their voting rights to enact change within their communities.

Accountability also helps nonprofits adjust and improve their own operations, ultimately empowering them to better achieve their mission. For more information about how Serenic can help “Empower Your Mission” with transparent accounting, explore our fund accounting resources.

The Right Technology Keeps Global Organizations Connected

Today it seems like we are sometimes over-connected with cell phones, social media, and instant access to news at any time. But believe it or not, there are occasions in today’s world where being connected is still a challenge. Today’s NGOs and multi-national nonprofits must stay connected with people around the world. They often cross geographical, cultural, and political boundaries to reach those in need. They manage people who speak different languages, manage funds in multiple currencies, and manage applications on diverse technical platforms. As they spread their cause globally, these organizations encounter hurdles and difficulties of every sort in an environment of increasing government oversight and shrinking budgets. Staying connected in tough!

This is where the right financial technology helps ease the struggles and allows NFPs and NGOs to focus on their mission at hand. To be efficient, effective and timely, here are ways your accounting software can help you stay connected.

Cloud, Portal or Replication Software Options for Accessing and Sharing

You must have access to your accounting system despite unreliable internet, insufficient bandwidth, or an intermittent power supply. In a global solution, look for cloud deployments, access to the internet via a portal or terminal services, or data replication between remote and central systems. This allows for sharing information, for instance when field representatives need to update grant administrators at the central office.

fund accounting for NGOs

Currencies

In every global organization, there is constant movement of funds from the grant manager at the central office to the field offices to the recipient. As the funds move across borders, they are likely to change currencies. A grant might be awarded in US dollars then sent out to regional country offices in Euros where it is used to purchase food with Kenyan Shillings. Your system should automatically convert funds from one currency to another at each step in the process. You need a system that can easily track, manage, and analyze funds in multiple currencies across each of the different entities.

Languages

At the same time funds are flowing downstream, information has to flow upstream. Details about services provided, funds expended, and constituents served must find their way from the field offices up to the central office on a timely basis. Workstations should be configurable with language options so two people sitting side by side can each access the system in their native language. If you’re not careful, you can quickly end up turning your organization into a virtual tower of Babel – where no one knows if the organization is moving in the right direction.

Data Monitoring

Regular data monitoring will help you make better decisions. You’ll want users to have appropriate access depending on their position in the central office, a regional office, or the field. Look for the ability to manage transactions, track awards and grants, allocate overhead, communicate with others downstream, create financial statements, enter transactions in local language and currency, and report clearly.

The right tools can help even the most widely distributed teams stay connected and work together. They can foster communication and help organizations avoid the roadblocks that can distract them from their mission.

For more detailed examples and diagrams, read a whitepaper for missions on the move!

25-year-old International NPO Awarded $60 Million Grant

August 20th, 2014

Partners In Health (PIH) has been bringing the benefits of medicine to those who need it most across the world for over 25 years, and a new grant will help them fight the devastating effects of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) for the next 4 years.

The $60 million grant, awarded in June to PIH by UNITAID (a global health financing system), will be used to bring life-saving drugs to 17 countries with populations afflicted with MDR-TB. The large-scale project, called “END-TB,” will begin enrolling patients and conducting clinical trials this fall.

Managing Multi-national Nonprofit Finances

Founded in 1987 with a single clinic in Haiti, PIH has grown into a large multi-national nonprofit organization with clinics and offices on four different continents.

In 2008, PIH’s budget was just over $65 million per year, and with more than 6,000 employees worldwide PIH needed help managing grant funding and reporting requirements. Serenic Software stepped in, providing accounting tools designed to meet the needs of multi-national nonprofits and NGOs.

Now PIH can generate reports through a shared server, instantly gathering financial information from all of its clinics and offices across the globe to its central headquarters in Boston.

“It’s a huge advantage to know in real time what’s going on at our international sites by viewing reports from Boston,” Rapier said. “Before – with the variety of systems we had in place – that was impossible.”

Allowing Room for Exponential Growth

After six years of using Serenic Navigator, PIH has experienced astronomical growth—the UNITAID grant is nearly as big as PIH’s entire 2008 budget. As exciting of an opportunity as this grant provides, PIH’s plans for the future extend far beyond that; and Serenic will be there along the way to help them with their mission.

Because of PIH’s commitment to transparent reporting and building lasting donor relationships, they plan to continue to grow and strive for their three main goals: care for patients, alleviate the root causes of disease in at-risk communities, and share research and lessons learned throughout the world.

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InsideNGOs Gift Card Winner Announced

Christelle Gorman, Operations Assistant, Global Program for the National Alliance of State & Territorial Aids Directors (NASTAD) is the winner of Serenic Software’s $150 Visa gift card drawing staged at the InsideNGOs 2014 Annual Conference. Christelle stopped by the Serenic booth to learn more about Serenic Navigator, Serenic’s financial management software for NGOs, and dropped her business card into the basket for the drawing. We enjoyed visiting with Christelle and hundreds of other NGO representatives who attended the event in Washington, D.C. July 29 – 31. The passion and dedication the attendees have for their missions was overwhelmingly apparent, as they eagerly soaked up all of the information they could to help their organizations have a stronger impact.

One of the most special aspects of the event for those of us in the Serenic booth, which included Serenic Director of Sales Chris Stevenson, Sales Manager Michael Pawlowski, and Director of Marketing Linda Nicholson, was the opportunity we had to renew acquaintances and reestablish friendships with our many customers who were in attendance. The opportunity to work with people who focus every day on making the world a better place is an opportunity we cherish.

As a new member of the Sylogist group of companies, we at Serenic have a very exciting year ahead of us. We can’t wait to see you all again next year to share in person how that excitement translates into new benefits for customers and enables stronger impacts on the missions they serve.

Serenic Client – Action Against Hunger:

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How Transparent Reporting Fosters Lasting Donor Relationships

Transparency is not just a best practice; it’s an expectation with donors.

The ability to keep donors in the loop, not only with regular reporting but with clear, understandable, and meaningful metrics, is the key to developing long lasting relationships. The better your donors understand your organization, its mission, and how you spend their money, the more likely they are to trust you enough to continue giving.

For many of the nonprofits, NGOs, and public sector organizations that have taken advantage of Serenic’s software solutions, a commitment to transparency has paid dividends in helping to achieve their critical missions. With the right set of tools, transparent reporting isn’t a burden—it enables you to achieve a more positive impact on the world.

Donors Expect Transparency

Transparency isn’t a luxury for nonprofits, NGOs and public sector organizations. Donors expect their money to be put to good use, and they’re demanding accountability from nonprofits.

“Accountability and transparency are becoming more and more critical to NGOs as donors become more educated and critical about where they are giving their money,” said Ann Quandt, Vice President of Finance for Partners in Health (PIH).

In PIH’s case, transparency has paid off in a big way. Their commitment to transparency helped them secure a $60 million grant from Unitaid this June. The new grant will allow PIH to bring life-saving drugs to 17 countries that have been stricken with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

Transparency Builds Trust with Donors

Medair, a humanitarian organization that provides relief to remote and devastated communities across the globe, has been using Serenic Navigator since 2006.

Since 80% of Medair’s funding comes from government partners, transparency is of the utmost importance. “The biggest risk financially is loss of confidence,” said Jim Ingram, CEO/Finance Director of Medair.

Serenic Navigator helps Medair manage over 120 grants and 120 funds. They operate across the globe, and so they deal with multiple currencies.  The accounting tools in Serenic Navigator allow Medair to stay up to date on exchange rates, automatically figuring them into their reports.

Tools for Effective Transparency

Serenic’s suite of nonprofit accounting software provides you with more than transparent reporting. Our flagship software, Serenic Navigator, is a table driven system that gives you the tools to analyze and report your data:

  • Compelling Charts
  • Full integration across multiple platforms
  • Three-dimensional analysis
  • Customizable account schedules
  • Much more

Your organization’s success depends on the relationships of trust you build with donors. Find out more about our software products, and how we can help you achieve your mission.

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Preparing for New Super Circular Audit Requirements

For nonprofits or NGOs that receive federal awards, recent changes to A-133 audit rules take effect later this year. Previously, organizations receiving federal awards exceeding $500,000 included a mandate that the recipient undergoes an A-133 audit. Going forward, that threshold has been raised to $750,000 for audits of fiscal years beginning on or after December 26, 2014, and requires that a single or program-specific audit be conducted.

An audit has one primary requirementRecent changes to A-133 audit rules – provide evidence that the recipient has complied with award requirements and the federal dollars have been utilized as intended. For organizations that wait until the end of the year to create or accumulate records in support of their compliance efforts, preparing for the audit can be a nightmare.

To make preparation simpler, we recommend the following:

  • Take a proactive approach.
  • Apply a strong combination of formalized policy and procedure guidelines.
  • Rely on a solid software toolset for help in streamlining business processes.
  • Keep detailed documentation.

By taking this advice, we feel organizations can minimize the effort gathering evidence for the auditor and spend their time focusing on their mission.

Dealing with the federal government is complicated enough. Award recipients needn’t be in a position where the cost of compliance exceeds the value of the reward. With the right software, staying compliant doesn’t have to mean increasingly complicated business processes. When used properly, it can streamline the process by helping centralize information, safeguard assets, ensure appropriate approvals and adequate documentation for expenditures, and automate reporting even in the funder’s required format.

To read a complete whitepaper on audit complications and streamlining compliance with audit rules, check out our whitepaper online.

AICPA Survey Points to Big Data, Increased Scrutiny as Big Concerns for CPAs

Although “big data” has been sort of a buzzword in the business world, it’s becoming more and more of a concern for accountants, including those working in the nonprofit sector. In a past blog post we’ve discussed ways nonprofits can leverage big data, and it appears that the issue of analyzing electronic data is only going to become more important in the near future.

According to The 2014 AICPA Survey on International Trends, published July 30, 85% of CPAs in forensic and valuation services cited big data as their biggest concern going forward. This is a shift from past surveys, which typically placed hiring and retention as the top priority.

Data numbers and line graph

The second most pressing concern for respondents of the survey was increased complexity and scrutiny, coming from different sources such as judges and governing bodies.

Although accountants working for NFPs and NGOs were not included in the survey, these two issues—big data and increased complexity and scrutiny—are big concerns for the nonprofit sector. Peter Brinckerhoff, a former Executive Director of two regional nonprofits and author and internationally renowned lecturer on nonprofit management issues, has stated that transparency and accuracy are two of the most pressing issues for nonprofit financial management.

The Importance of Transparency for Nonprofits

In a whitepaper written for Serenic Software, Brinckerhoff states, “Transparency is no longer optional, either inside or outside the organization.”

Nonprofits, if anything, are under more scrutiny than private sector companies. As Brinkerhoff states, your financials are “on public display at many nonprofit watchdog websites, such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator.”

Reporting requirements are getting more complex, as well. Nonprofits work directly with auditors, and they need to stay on top of all state and federal requirements for reporting, including new requirements for IRS forms 990, 990N, and 990T.

“You might as well have a reporting system that facilitates this easily,” writes Brinkerhoff, “not one that you have to spend hours pulling numbers from.”

The Opportunities of Big Data for Nonprofits

Financial information is a huge part of big data, and making sense of it is a unique challenge that CFOs, board members, and accountants must grapple with.

Brinkerhoff writes, “You still can’t manage what you don’t measure, and like it or not, financial measurements are part of the mission outcome.”  Increasingly, the ability to measure and analyze big data will be crucial to a nonprofit’s financial goals and overall mission.

The biggest opportunity for big data is the potential to gather and analyze financial data in real time, and use it to make important organizational decisions.

Only advanced software solutions give your nonprofit organization the capability to both analyze big data and provide the necessary reporting for complete transparency.

 

Photo by: Tom

 

Serenic HCM Achieves Milestone for Microsoft Dynamics Accreditation

Serenic Human Capital Management (HCM), our HR and payroll software, has passed the Software Solution Test for Microsoft Dynamics, which is a major requirement for Certified for Microsoft Dynamics® status.

Certified for Microsoft Dynamics is Microsoft Corp.’s highest standard for partner-developed software. This certification represents a significant step in elevating the standard for partner-developed software solutions for industry-specific business applications. Solutions with a successful software test have demonstrated development quality and compatibility with the Microsoft Dynamics product. Rigorous testing on the solution’s integration with Microsoft Dynamics is completed by an independent third party.

“By requiring the software solution to meet our highest standards, Microsoft is assuring customers that these certified solutions work with their investments in Microsoft Dynamics,” said Doug Kennedy, vice president, Microsoft Dynamics Partners.

Microsoft Dynamics HR and PayrollSerenic HCM is a suite of products including payroll benefits like multiple employer, flexible calculations, automatic accruals, direct deposit, setup wizards, time journal, and much more. HR includes fields to track and analyze user-defined data, position management, recruitment, communication tracking, pay structures, and many other benefits. We are the exclusive developer of HR and payroll products for Microsoft Dynamics NAV.

“Without Serenic it would be nearly impossible – and cost-prohibitive – to pay weekly. Since Serenic HCM is infinitely scalable, it’s not a big deal – just a push of a button and very little effort to pay weekly versus every other week.”
– Rick Drass – Vice President of Information Technology at Tervis Tumbler

“The automation of the payroll process had huge benefits in creating more efficiency, reducing the process time from five days to not more than half a day, and eliminating defects caused by manual processes previously. Payroll now is a fully integrated application within our ERP system.”
– Frida Farah – Corporate Services Director for Breakfast & Co.

If interested in reading more, check out our whitepaper for ways to address your payroll needs and manage the process yourself vs. outsourcing.

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