AcctTwo’s Head of Nonprofit, Allison Webb, is the latest guest on the Christian Nonprofit CFO’s podcast, hosted by David Beroth.
David’s podcast focuses on enhancing the stewardship of church finances with increased CFO insight and expanding ministry impact. Church financial software for financial leaders in ministry are often ill-equipped to address, let alone overcome, the many challenges they face. Too often they pivot from crisis to crisis. In this mode they run on the tactical treadmill instead of proactively contributing strategic value to their nonprofits. Unfortunately, the full impact of their ministry suffers without the right Christian accounting software. Proverbs 19:20: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”
- Identifying the Problem
- Evaluating Options
- Implementing a Solution
Identifying the Problem:
Many ministries and faith-based financial leaders must weigh investing in internal infrastructure with their programmatic and mission-based activities. It’s a hard decision, but Allison’s example of when financial data goes wrong, might hit home with many of you.
“I worked with an international organization, this organization was crippled each month because they had to close their books and get data sent in from their international field offices. They had to manually pull together data in spreadsheets and manipulate the numbers to produce financials. There were so many offices that were delinquent, so the data wasn't prepared timely and wasn't always accurate. It was evident by the numerous journal entries that they'd have to do when the field offices failed to report on-time, not to mention the hours upon hours it took the centralized team to prepare and re-prepare monthly information. They were providing potentially incomplete and inaccurate data to key leaders and asking them to make decisions for the ministry,” Allison Webb, AcctTwo's Head of Nonprofit. A few key areas, which might cause an organization to replace their financial software:
- Growing multi-location needs
- Increasing complexity in financial needs
- Creating custom reports and analytics
- Dealing with a difficult on-premise financial software
It can be overwhelming thinking about all the different accounting software solutions and vendors out there. When it’s time to start evaluating options, here are a few tips Allison spoke about on David’s podcast:
- Stay focused on what you’re looking for
- Look at multiple solutions and/or vendors
- Do your research by talking to your peers, colleagues, and do extensive online research – it's important from a referral and reference standpoint to be able to talk to those that either use the software and/or vendor
- Get industry specific references
- Request a demo – see the product first-hand and invite multiple people that will be using the software
“As you send out your RFP, you’ll want to evaluate their responses. For example: How did they respond to what you were requesting? Did they tell their story? Or, did they try to tell your story and provide solutions, and how they are going to be helpful to you. When reviewing an RFP, I have my auditor hat on. Sometimes in accounting, you need to look at responses, especially considering size, complexity, and a big component is always price. However, I don't want price to be the only factor. When I was an auditor, clients would decide based on price. Later, you find that they were living with only having 50% of what they needed. During the RFP process, you have to say: what solutions are really checking all the boxes, and how can we make this investment to really be the best for our organization,” Allison Webb, AcctTwo's Head of Nonprofit.
Implementing a Solution:
After identifying the problem and evaluating options, it’s time to implement your chosen accounting software. During the implementation process, you become an air traffic controller and clear communication is critical. Try meet with all the different team members and have those on board and create an encouraging environment. Generally, implementing a solution like Sage Intacct, can take 3-4 months. Here are a few tips from Allison to make that time as productive and effective as possible:
- Meet in small groups, so that you have the opportunity to ask and answer pertinent questions – your development and contributions team are going to have different questions than your AP and disbursements group
- Talk to your Senior Pastors, President, and/or Senior Leadership during the implementation process – they're going to have different questions than your Director of Finance, Controller and Finance Staff
- Create a schedule – it is going to be key to keeping people (and the project) on track
- When building out your implementation schedule, consider year-end, audit prep, and other seasonal activities that you will need bandwidth for – flexibility and realistic expectations are key to your success
Implementing accounting software generally only happens a few times in your career. You’re not going to be perfect or have all the answers, talk to others that have done it and learn from their experiences.
Listen to the full podcast!
About Allison Webb:
Allison is AcctTwo’s Head of the NFP, she is a highly regarded CPA with over 20 years of audit and advisory services at both national and regional public accounting firms. Prior to joining AcctTwo, she spent 16 years at CapinCrouse LLP and 4 years at Aprio LLP (formerly HA&W). As a Partner at CapinCrouse LLP, Allison worked with churches, foundations, universities, international mission organizations, private schools, and relief and development organizations.
In addition to her CPA work, Allison is a frequent speaker at nonprofit conferences and seminars. You might recognize Allison from her speaking engagements at AcctTwo’s Faith-Based Finance Collaborative and Sage Intacct Advantage. Allison is a registered CPA in Texas. She holds a BA in Accounting from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.
On a personal note, Allison is originally from Atlanta, Georgia. She has been living in Dallas, Texas for four years. She has been married to her husband, Kenny, for 20 years and they have two beautiful girls, Kayla (16) and Lexi (12). Allison works out of AcctTwo’s Dallas, Texas office and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (713) 744-8427.