Serenic Navigator Helps Partners in
Health Better Manage Financial Operations to Support Its Mission
"After reviewing available products for mid-sized organizations, we found that
few could handle multiple currencies and languages, but Serenic Navigator could.
It also was attractive to us that Serenic understood the developing world and
the challenges of working in remote areas better than the other software
providers we considered.”
- Donella Rapier, Partners in Health’s Chief Financial Officer
Partners In Health (PIH) is a multi-national non-profit organization that seeks
to raise the standard of healthcare for the poor everywhere through its service,
training, advocacy and research programs. These programs, part of PIH’s efforts
to break the vicious cycle of poverty and disease, help more than 2 million
patients per year.
PIH was founded in 1987 with one clinic in Haiti and a vision to bring the
fruits of modern medicine to those who need it most – showing the world that
providing comprehensive medical care to entire communities is not just possible,
but essential. PIH has three goals: to care for its patients, to alleviate the
root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around
the world. The organization and its founder’s story are chronicled in a
best-selling book, Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul
In early 2008, PIH faced business challenges typical of many multi-national
nonprofit organizations that have experienced significant growth and need to
manage operations across continents. With more than 6,000 employees worldwide,
the organization reached a budget level of $65 million this past year. PIH’s
Boston headquarters needed real-time financial information from the field in its
major locations – from Haiti and Peru to Russia and Malawi.
“With recent growth, we needed to more efficiently manage donor funds and
spending across locations using different languages and currencies,” said Donella
Rapier, PIH’s chief financial officer. “Our organization’s reliance on grant funding
made real-time reporting absolutely essential, and we needed to significantly
improve our systems capabilities.”
PIH wanted to replace multiple financial systems it was using, including a
Peachtree solution at its headquarters and a homegrown system in Peru. It was
using only Excel at its sites in Africa and at its headquarters to manually consolidate
financial information across the organizations. PIH was searching for a fund
accounting system that could provide a common solution across all locations and
in multiple currencies and languages.
“After reviewing available products for mid-sized organizations, we found that few
could handle multiple currencies and languages, but Serenic Navigator could,”
said Rapier. “It also was attractive to us that Serenic understood the developing
world and the challenges of working in remote areas better than the other software
providers we considered.”
Since mid-2008, PIH has rolled out Serenic Navigator in four of its planned six sites, with
another office nearly ready to go live. Rapier noted the organization has already
seen benefits, which will increase as more offices go through the implementation
"Financial operations are a huge part of our organization, so having Serenic Navigator has helped enormously and improved the effectiveness of what PIH is doing," she said.
Today, more than 64 users across four of its global locations are using Serenic
Navigator Advanced Management Edition – certified for Microsoft Dynamics
NAV – as well as other applications within the Serenic Navigator extended product suite.
Benefits PIH cites to date include:
Serenic’s fully integrated product suite allows PIH to combine financials, procurement
and donation management. “Serenic Navigator’s capabilities have made our process
much simpler and saved a ton of paper and time – removing days of work from
our previous process,” Rapier said.
Prior to Serenic, the financial department underwent an arduous procedure to
generate monthly reports for managers in hard copies for review. Handwritten
notes had to be entered and final copies generated. Now PIH can do all reports
electronically with access through a shared server. Managers can make comments
online, so reports can be more quickly and easily generated and emailed to recipients.
“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.” Once the implementation process
is complete in all six planned locations, Rapier looks forward to doing a monthly
consolidation across sites.
Simplified Fund Management Using Dimensions
PIH used Serenic Navigator's dimensions feature, which is unique to Serenic Navigator,
and standardized around a single chart of accounts across the organization to better
understand its financial picture at the top level. A dimension is data that you
can add to an entry as a kind of marker so that the program can group entries
with similar characteristics and easily retrieve these groups for analysis purposes.
Dimensions can be defined by the user and tailored to a company’s needs and
business processes. They are used throughout the program on entries in journals
and documents, as well as budgets.
PIH has leveraged dimensions to easily report on many elements, such as fund,
organizational unit, project, purpose and more, without the need for a complicated
chart of accounts or the need for a separate project/grant sub-ledger. The
organization also can have a standard chart of accounts globally while having the
flexibility for each country office to have several of their own specific reporting
“The flexibility of Serenic’s dimensions feature allows us to organize work in many
different ways,” Rapier said. “Discrete segments give us a tremendous amount of
functionality and the flexibility to define separate dimensions specific to our organization
that we can drill down into to see more detail.”
Centralized Global System Across All Languages, Currencies and
Individual Country Requirements
Centralized access to its international information was critical to PIH. The organization’s
offices are often required to report locally to their respective countries
and donors while also consolidating expenses paid for in Boston. Serenic Navigator’s
dimensionality and reporting flexibility allows for that, while maintaining a
standard chart of accounts globally. In Peru, for example, PIH needs to report
on a separate Peruvian chart of accounts mandated by the government there.
Serenic’s reporting allows that office to map from the PIH chart of accounts to the
local reporting requirements.
Serenic Navigator’s Replicator tool was very attractive to the organization when it
selected the product, and it is preparing to implement that feature. Replicator is a
data integration solution that offers universal and unique data exchange between
two or more Serenic Navigator databases. PIH found that it did not have strong enough
connectivity in its country offices to work from one common database in Boston.
It will use Replicator to allow each country office to work with the software locally.
Replicator will then synchronize changed data only between the country
office and PIH headquarters to provide everyone with the most up-to-date global
reporting information possible.
“We expect Replicator to be a big benefit once it is up and running, helping us
to communicate across our remote offices where we need to synchronize data
sets and where connectivity issues can create problems,” Rapier said. “Certainly,
Serenic’s multi-languages feature has been extremely helpful for global communication
and more accurate accounting. We are currently using Spanish in Peru
and will implement the French version in Haiti.”
Serenic Support and Ease-of-Use
PIH was able to implement Serenic Navigator at four sites within six months, in
part, because it was very quick for users to get onto the new system. “It’s very
intuitive for users, because it looks and feels similar to other Microsoft products,”
She reported that PIH’s program leaders, who are each in charge of operations
in a particular country, are very happy with the system. They like the ability to
define reports that they can see each month to analyze specific funds and projects.
Another advantage Rapier cites is that Serenic users at multinational non-profit
groups can learn from one another. Informal user groups supported by Serenic
can share insights among members who share similar challenges. “It’s a big
advantage to have users’ groups forming and to have Serenic prioritizing its product
development for the specific needs of those of us with operations overseas,”
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