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Background

In the fall of 2001, a dream was born in the hearts of Paul Basden and Jim Johnson. The two longtime friends were senior pastors of large,  denominational churches in the Southeast; positions that granted influence, respect and job security. Nevertheless, they determined to uproot their families and move 1,000 miles away to fast-growing Frisco, TX with the goal of starting a new church for people who had given up on church, but not on God.

In 2002, Preston Trail Community Church held its first service at the AMC Theater 24 in Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre Mall. By 2005, the church moved to a converted manufacturing plant for electronic circuit boards, where it would thrive and grow for eight years. During this time, the church launched new ministries such as Celebrate Recovery and ReEngage and welcomed thousands of people from the North Texas community through its doors.

In 2014, Preston Trail relocated to its current building, a modern structure that can handle the church's 3,500 members. The new building has four separate worship venues and sits on a 35-acre campus in Frisco. With its expansion in membership and in ministries, insight into financial and operational data became an increasingly important requirement for the church's leadership. Preston Trail's leaders struggled to get the visibility they needed from Shelby, QuickBooks, and their multitudes of spreadsheets.

Executive Pastor's Background

Executive Pastor Dennis Richards comes from the secular business world where he worked in marketing. His first role in churches was as a Communications Director. He later transitioned to the Executive Pastor role. His leadership background has not been in finance. That means that he relies on systems that can put information into his hands in an intuitive way. The use of dashboards and real-time reporting has provided him data in a way that allows him to work with Preston Trail's financial team to map out the church's fiscal strategies.

Challenges

Spreadsheet Bottleneck

Generating reports was time-consuming and error-prone, the church's legacy system had become inefficient and a bottleneck for productivity, and they were drowning in a sea of Excel spreadsheets. Keeping tabs on church metrics was labor intensive and management felt as if they were constantly shuffling paper reports back and forth.

Reporting Confusion

Preston Trail's reporting had become confusing and difficult for even experienced finance team members to keep straight. The church back-office had become the “paper police.” Most ministry leaders feared being called into the finance office. Church executives were in constant need of new reports to help clarify the church's financial needs but never seemed to crack the code on getting it right.

Reporting Delays

The effort required to generate reports left the finance and accounting team perpetually understaffed. They were typically taking 30 days to close the books every month, and lacked real-time visibility into their financial data.

Confidence in Reporting

These delays and manual processing caused Preston Trail's leadership to have a lack of confidence in their reports. This became more apparent as they undertook major building or capital campaigns. Constant requests for more data and better projections had created gridlock for the organization.

Given the challenges they were facing, church management knew they had a lack of clarity in their systems. They always seemed to be looking backward into their financial past and never forward in their projections with any amount of confidence, clarity or accuracy. They simply had outgrown their existing platform and needed a more systemic approach to financial and operational metrics.

Evaluation

At first Preston Trail wasn’t even sure what the ideal system looked like or what church accounting software options were available, which led them to seek advice from other churches and organizations. They quickly realized that their financial systems needed to be improved and updated to utilize current technology. 

More than accounting, Preston Trails' leaders knew that they needed a system based on solid accounting functionality. But they also wanted a platform that would allow them to be more forward-thinking in their analytics and their ability to create custom reports.

Awareness of Options

Through networking and consultants, several requirements became apparent. Preston Trail wanted flexibility and customization in reporting, automated and streamlined business processes, and they wanted to create a more paperless environment with accessibility from anywhere via the Cloud. They also knew they needed to reduce their dependence on IT staff to maintain their financial systems.

The church's staffing budget simply couldn't support upgrading to another more costly legacy system.

Results

"Our mission is very simple: Help people find and follow Jesus Christ. For us, and in our environment, we know that Sage Intacct helps us to reach that mission. It allows our staff to concentrate on the right things. It keeps them from having to fret over reports and managing budgets, yet still puts valuable tools in their hands so that our ministry leaders effectively lead and lead others in living our mission," said Richards.

Positive Impacts on Day-to-Day Operations

Preston Trail benefits from a more accurate and sophisticated system for financial reporting. Church leaders have more confidence in their reports and ministry leaders actually look at and understand the financial reports for their ministries. This lets the church concentrate more on its mission and less on its budget. While budgeting is still important, reaching people for Christ remains Preston Trail's number one goal.

Having a simple overview of budgets and flexible reporting allows ministry leaders to concentrate more on ministry and less on financial matters. Their dashboards and tailored reporting allow for quick up-to-the-minute reports that can be custom tailored with line graphs, pie charts, and bar graphs which are easy to understand.

"Prior to using Sage Intacct we were drowning in a sea of Excel spreadsheets. My background has been as a non-financial leader. That means that I rely on systems that can put information into my hands in an intuitive way. The use of dashboards and real-time reporting has given me data in a way so that I can understand our financial information and be able to work with our financial team in mapping out our fiscal strategies," said Dennis Richards, Executive Pastor at Preston Trail Community Church.

Efficient Reporting With Sage Intacct

Preston Trail's back-office finance team is more efficient. Reports can be produced quickly, which reduces manual processes and paperwork and improves workflows. Even though their systems are light years ahead of where they were a few short years ago in terms of sophistication, they have been able to maintain their staffing levels.

Intuitive Dashboards with Sage Intacct

Because of Intacct, Preston Trail's leaders have been able to satisfy the financial questions that in the past would have required hours of discussions and debate. In 2015, the church's budget submittal process was made so much easier that they actually delivered the budget ahead of schedule and the approval process from the board was done in under thirty-minutes. This was entirely made possible by the improvements that church management has made in their processes and systems since moving to Sage Intacct.

With Intacct, church leaders are able to get the information they need delivered quickly and cohesively. These reports and dashboards are quickly accessible and contain real-time data. These include:

  • Giving: Weekly, Monthly and YTD
  • Revenue vs. Expenses
  • Current Cash Position
  • Attendance

"Today we enjoy a more accurate and sophisticated system for our financial reporting. We have more confidence in our reporting and our ministry leaders actually look at and understand the financial reports they manage," said Richards.

 

Visit our Customers page for more customer stories and church accounting software case studies.


About AcctTwo

AcctTwo is focused on delivering the future of finance and accounting to its customers.  AcctTwo has three main solutions – Cloud-based Accounting Software, Managed Accounting Services, and Software Development, all built around Sage Intacct’s best-in-class financial applications.  Our dedicated team of more than 100 people has helped more than 800 organizations optimize finance and accounting through software implementations, accounting outsourcing, and consulting.  AcctTwo has been recognized by Sage Intacct as its Partner of the Year from 2014 – 2019 and by our customers as the leader in overall satisfaction through their reviews on G2Crowd.

AcctTwo is headquartered in Houston, Texas. For more information, please visit www.accttwo.com or call 713-744-8400.

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"Sage Intacct has allowed us to bridge the gap between efficiency and being a people-oriented caring ministry.”

- Dennis Richards, Executive Pastor, Preston Trail


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