Posts Tagged ‘NonProfit’

HR Actions for Sage Abra HRMS Worth a Close Look

Posted on Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

When we work with HR Directors, a common challenge is that so much of their time is spent on moving paper, checking and rechecking form processing and other redundant administrative tasks – time better spent on the strategic concerns of the organization.

“Can you help me automate so that I’m not buried in paperwork?”

The answer is “Yes!”  Not only can we help automate starting with award-winning Sage Abra HRMS, we can show you how the system can be used to save time, save money, and reduce manual handling of paperwork.

We recommend Sage Abra HRMS as the core of your HR solution.  The system is scalable and offers a number of attractive complementary modules including HR Actions for Sage Abra HRMS.

HR Actions is one of the most popular solutions we’ve been showing organizations.  The ROI is readily apparent and it truly is a great help to gaining greater efficiency in the collection and approval of employee data.

HR Actions is web-based and helps you streamline the collection and approval of employee data – from request to hire to termination, status changes, performance appraisals, and a whole lot more.

HR Actions for Sage Abra HRMS solution highlights:

Accelerate HR and Payroll transactional processing throughout the employment lifecycle

  • Eliminate paper forms
  • Updated forms are immediately available to the organization
  • Electronic routing and approval of forms speed the service delivery process

Keep employee information available and up-to-date across the enterprise

  • Provide managers online access to direct and skip-level reports’ personnel files, including completed forms and attachments.

Reduce HR’s dependency on IT support

  • HR can define and build dynamic web-based forms and routing rules without any programming skills

Enforce company policy while minimizing errors

  • Forms are easy to complete, with fields that only display appropriate choices
  • Specify what fields must be complete for a form to move on to the approval process
  • Forms are routed for approval based on business rules you define in a point-and-click environment

Eliminate data entry from paper forms into Sage Abra HRMS

  • Once approved, one-click updates to Sage Abra eliminate data entry from paper forms

You monitor and control forms throughout the entire routing process

  • A real-time dashboard lets you see the status of every form being routed throughout the organization
  • Control the flow of a form – stop it, skip an approver, or push it through the approval process

If you’d like to operate more efficiently and make better use of your time – HR Actions is worth taking a look at.  Please let us know if you’d like to learn more – give us a call at 800-269-6466 or drop us a note info@huckstep.com – we’d love to chat with you!  Also don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter @HuckstepAssoc.

 

With headquarters in Springfield, MO, Huckstep & Associates serves clients in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin providing sales and support for Sage Software Products, Time Keeping Solutions, Third Party Add-Ons To Sage Products, Hosted Solutions, and IT Solutions.

Cost Allocation – What about your written plan?

Posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2011

by Jeannie Huckstep, CPA, CITP

Cost allocation is a terrifically important project for every accountant who manages federal grants.     In our work, we are often called upon to implement a cost allocation plan as a part of a software implementation.    My process always starts with this question:     “Could you please send me a copy of your current written allocation plan?”    And, typically, my question is met with silence, or a “deer in the headlights” stare if I’m on-site.

As a result of that initial question, and my subsequent experiences with clients all over the country, I’ve come to the firm conclusion that only the “best of the best” have that plan document that has been drafted initially, updated annually, and then observed faithfully.    The requirements for allocation of administrative costs to federal grants are contained in OMB Circular A-122, and are stated very clearly.

It’s really not that difficult, as the circular only requires that your processes are reasonable.    Virtually every one of the clients that I work with currently allocate their administrative costs in some manner, and virtually all have the written plan document in place.    I always caution them to create a reasonable plan for their organization, and to avoid what I call “splitting hairs”.

It’s the new ones that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit with about cost allocation where I see the lack of attention to this significant compliance area related to their grants.   In my initial discussion regarding allocation of administrative costs, I urge them not only to plan the process, but to document it, review periodically, and then document the review.   My current clients have all been through that discussion/exercise with me, and we continue our cost allocation discussion through our regional Sage Nonprofit user groups, our annual High Road to Success user conference, and other communication avenues that we employ to stay connected with our Sage NonProfit clients.

The reality is that with the appearance of the ARRA Funds at the beginning of the recession, and their enhanced compliance requirements, cost allocation became more of a target of interest to both auditors and monitors.     And, we believe that initial interest through the substantial compliance requirements of the ARRA Funds has become the “new normal” in the grant funded world of the nonprofit organization.    So, this is a very important area.

Are your cost allocation processes and procedures documented, and reviewed annually?    If not, your organization is at risk when the monitor or the auditor visits.    You want to be certain that your processes are in place, that they are consistent from period to period, that they are reasonable, and that they are well-documented.      The ultimate goal is to make it easy for the auditor or monitor to verify that you are performing the procedures in the manner prescribed by your written plan, and that your plan meets the requirements of OMB Circular A-122.

 

 Helping nonprofits, human resources departments with fund accounting and HRMS software, reporting, and accounting services; Huckstep & Associates assists organizations throughout the central United States from Minnesota to Texas and Colorado to Michigan.

Is QuickBooks the best software option for a small non-profit organization?

Posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

There are many considerations to think about when selecting an accounting software program.  One consideration that is rarely thought of is what could happen if the taxpayer’s tax return is selected for an IRS audit.  The IRS is now both equipping and training its auditors on a couple of the most commonly used software packages.  This may only be a start down a rocky road for the taxpayer.  The IRS has purchased licenses for software products and can accept backup files for “most accounting software programs that are used by small business customers.” (IRS website Q&A).

The majority of the attention on this new audit procedure has been focused on QuickBooks and PeachTree as they are the most common “off-the-shelf” accounting products used by small businesses.  And, we are seeing in several of the public tax forums discussions regarding IRS auditors requesting copies of backups for these products as a part of the audit.

You may ask a question like, “Why should I care if an IRS auditor wants a backup of my accounting software?”  You should care!  Tax practioners are concerned about the open access this gives an auditor to the organization’s information.  And, then there is the interpretation of what is contained therein.   Given a full backup of your accounting data, the IRS auditor would have open access to transactions from prior and subsequent years that are not within the scope of the audit.

With this new development, IRS has been very clear that financial accounting software files cannot be modified to delete activity for periods that are not currently under audit.   Remember Enron?    The big issues there really started with Destruction of Records.   The destroyed records were outside of the retention requirements, but had not been destroyed in a timely manner.   The destruction began when the organization was notified of an audit – a Big No-No.

So, given this development, you cannot delete activity from subsequent periods so as to limit the auditor’s view into solely the records covered by their audit request areas.  The IRS position is that “…..the new or modified company file is not a copy of the books and records of original entry.  The altered electronic file would not meet the requirements of the Information Document Request.” (IRS website Q&A)

The typical small business owner, or nonprofit organization who considers a purchase of accounting software typically is looking only at whether or not the package they are considering can provide them with the internal reports the organization needs to run the business at hand.    But, as you can see, there are many more things to think about.    In the event of an IRS audit, it is important that you only provide appropriate responses to the questions that are raised.    But, given certain of the low-end accounting packages, you run the risk of opening yourself and your organization to the entire world of the IRS agent should you receive a request for a full copy of your accounting system.

There is lots to think about in your choice of an accounting system, but this is a new development that should definitely be factored in to your decision.     We all love technology, but sometimes it is a double-edged sword.

For information on accounting software options, and their impact on your organization, please feel free to contact Huckstep & Associates, LLC at (800) 269-6466.

 

Huckstep & Associates is proud to have customers throughout the central United States including Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Wisconsin and specializes in accounting services, nonprofit fund accounting software, reporting and human resource management systems (HRMS).

Should You Consider a New Accounting System in the Current Economy?

Posted on Monday, August 1st, 2011

With all of the current cutbacks to federal grants, an organization might be thinking that spending money to “reinvent” their accounting system isn’t a good idea.   But, the reality is that if there is budget to make it happen, it’s really the perfect time.

Virtually all of our clients experienced the significantly enhanced compliance requirements that came along with the ARRA funds that were brought about to boost the economy during the worst of the recession.     Clearly, organizations had to boost their compliance efforts as well during that time.    All things considered, we believe that we will see the level of compliance requirements that came about with the ARRA dollars become the “New Norm” with federal and state grant funding.

Actually, funders of all types are much more discerning today in the ways they look to spend their precious dollars.   And as they review the grant proposals they receive, they are looking for the most bang for their buck.   That means that they want to fund “the best of the best” operators to deliver the services that they intend to provide.  That means as they pour over the applications, they are looking at your historical program operations, the successes, and, of course, the failures if there are any.

But even more, they are looking at how you manage your business.   Does the financial information that you provide look organized?  Is it complete?  If they ask you to provide financials by grant, and by month for the prior year, can you prepare their request quickly and easily?  Or do you have to print a trial balance and then pick out the numbers from that, and then prepare the requested information using Excel?   When you have to take numbers from your trial balances, and manipulate them into financials, there is a huge margin for error.

We are in the age of technology today, so you don’t want to be left holding the bag when you are met with a serious request for information when you are in the middle of negotiations for additional funds for your programs.   Fund accounting systems put information at your fingertips by tracking each of your grants as if it were a separate company.  So there is no commingling of funds, no mixing of various dollars, no need for a programmer to generate your reports, and you have the world of your accounting system at your fingertips.

With a true fund accounting system, it’s clear that you have your act together.  And, it’s that – that puts your organization in the best light in the eyes of a potential funder, whether that is a federal or state grant, or simply a local Foundation that provides dollars to provide services of some type.

The bottom line is this:   There has never been a better time to take stock of your financial accounting system, and move into the “New Norm” of compliance.

 

Specializing in accounting services, nonprofit fund accounting software, human resource management systems (HRMS) and reporting, Huckstep & Associates is proud to have customers throughout the central United States including Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

Your Accounting System –Isn’t it supposed to replace manual processes? Part II – Cost Allocation

Posted on Saturday, May 21st, 2011

by Jeannie Huckstep, CPA, CITP

Part I of this series really took a serious look at what happens when accounting staff are required to perform their reporting work using manual processes at a time when technology forward-looking systems such as the Sage MIP Fund Accounting product exist.

The major question of Part I was this:    What processes is your staff doing manually?    And the article then concentrated on the reporting area, and discussed the inefficiencies and potential for error when manual reporting processes were utilized to overcome an ineffective fund accounting system.

Another highly inefficient process to handle manually is the allocation of administrative costs.   And, grant-funded organizations have the requirements of OMB Circular A-122 issues to address, and with which compliance is critical.

It really requires a specialized fund accounting system to handle the cost allocation process appropriately.    The systems typically utilized in a For-profit entity, and the low-cost value systems simply don’t cut it in this area.    And, settling for one of those systems destines your accounting staff to the manual completion of the allocation of the organizations administrative costs.    What a highly inefficient way of doing business, which is also highly prone to error.

The Sage MIP Fund Accounting product, on the other hand, is a master of electronic allocation of pooled administrative costs, and saves an incredible amount of staff time, and lends the normal validity and reliability of an electronic process.

How about if you could pool your allocable costs within your accounting system, and then use an electronic process over which you have control to allocate the costs to grants or programs on the basis that you design, on the timeframe that you define?   Talk about usability of an accounting system – it doesn’t get any better than this!

By way of basis definition, the Allocation Management module of Sage MIP Fund Accounting offers various calculation methods in the allocation process.   Many organizations allocate occupancy costs based on square footage by grant or program.   Other costs are often allocated according to direct hours worked by grant, as evidenced by the hours reported by grant within the payroll module.  Some organizations allocate administrative costs other than occupancy based on direct salaries by grant, or direct salaries and benefits by grant.    Where data that exists within the system can be the allocation basis, the functionality of the process is that it “looks” at the basis information, and does the job electronically, and in the end creates the allocation entries.

By way of timeframe, the system can look at reported payroll hours, or reported direct salaries based on the prior month, the prior quarter, or whatever your written cost allocation plan defines, and certainly what the OMB Circulars prescribe.   This “look” at the information is another electronic process that YOU define, and that results in the system creating the entry that your staff are likely creating manually.

As your organization begins to look for a replacement fund accounting system, the functionality detailed above is a critical area that any nonprofit governmental grant funded organization, or any governmental organization should consider.    The days of doing manual work to overcome the shortcomings of a low-level accounting system makes no sense in today’s economy.   The Return on Investment calculation will clearly give significant positive results when manual work is factored into the ROI calculation.

Let us know if we can help you improve your ROI and operate more effectively.

 

In Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin, Huckstep & Associates supports nonprofits, governmental, and for-profit organizations by building and maintaining the best professional team of accounting and human resource experts and support staff.

Your Accounting System –Isn’t it supposed to replace manual processes? Part I – Reporting

Posted on Sunday, May 8th, 2011

by Jeannie Huckstep, CPA, CITP

When we begin a discussion with a prospect as they are considering a replacement of their current system, or have already decided that they want to move to the Sage MIP Fund Accounting product, we always begin that discussion with several questions.     We begin our discovery process with these two.   The first is:  How much work is your staff doing manually to compensate for the inflexibility, and inability of your current system to encompass all of your reporting needs?   The next question is this:   What are they doing manually, or on Excel spreadsheets, that your current system simply won’t handle in an electronic manner?

The answer to the first question always revolves around reporting.    And – the list of points I’ve heard in answer to this question is long.   Most often, staff within the organization is required to print a trial balance from their system, and then resort to a spreadsheet to put the pieces of information that the trial balance provides together in the required presentation format.   Can you imagine the work hours required if the organization has 30 grants on which they need to create monthly reports for the funders or the grant managers?

Typically, someone on the accounting staff prints the account code information, and then locates the information for the appropriate grant (if it exists within the accounting system), and then combines the numbers onto a spreadsheet that is formatted appropriately for presentation.   What an inefficient and unreliable way to do business.   Anytime manual processes are involved, they are prone to the normal “people” errors that simply go away when an electronic process is utilized.

If your staff has to use manual processes to overcome the shortcomings of their current system, it’s time for a change.     Very clearly, the technology is available TODAY to replace manual processes of this nature with appropriately designed electronic processes.

Please let us know if we can help you eliminate tedious, time-consuming manual processes.

 

Freeing nonprofit, government and for-profit organizations to focus on mission and strategy, Huckstep & Associates is proud to have customers throughout the central United States including Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin.

The 4 Audiences Who Will Cheer When They Receive Better Reporting from You

Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011

The past few years have been grueling ones for nonprofits and you need look no further than your own finance department to see the evidence.  As CFO or Controller, are you spending most of your time gathering data from multiple systems, and juggling multiple spreadsheets?   Are you spending longer hours compiling the financials and yet your month-end close times are getting longer and longer?  If your answers to those questions are “Yes”, it is time for a change – a long overdue change.   Here is a short list of those who will definitely “Cheer” as you bring change to your organization.

Board – sometimes the board really doesn’t recognize their fiduciary responsibility with relation to the organization for whom they are invited to become a member of the board.   But the reality is that with all of the controversy that came about as a result of the Enron/WorldCom situation, potential board members are definitely much more likely to educate themselves with regard to the potential risk they take when they accept a seat on your board.   They will definitely “Cheer” when they see that you, as CFO, are doing everything you can to keep them well-informed with regard to the financial status of the organization.   Provide them extensive reports that are printed directly from your accounting system.    That is definitely the “Key to the Cheer”.

Auditor – these guys really won’t cheer – after all, they are accountants J.    But –the reality is that when the auditor gets the documentation they need from the client, and everything they are handed makes sense, they get that nice warm fuzzy feeling that all is likely OK at your organization.    They see you as competent .    They will spend some time confirming that perception, certainly.   But, since you really are “taking care of business” – your life during the audit will be easier.  You will be the one cheering at that point.

Donors – There’s so much in the press these days with regard to negative things happening within organizations, that donors now are watching the news.    You want to make certain that if you find yourself in the press, that it’s for the good your organization does in the community.    When donors see/hear good news, whether it’s on the front pages of the newspapers, or from the newsletter you send out listing all of the clients you’ve served over the last month, they won’t just cheer, they will increase their donations.

Funders – In many organizations, the funders need to be at the top of your list of those you really need to express.    If during their reviews of your organization, they see competent staff, with full reporting capability from your accounting system, they will “Cheer” as you bring change to your organization.    When you look good by way of your stewardship of the funds they have awarded, and you manage with serious competence, remember, they look good as well.   And, they do hold the purse strings, so it’s imperative that they are satisfied with your “tone at the top” regarding compliance.   Do we really believe that they are oblivious to the red flags going up in their heads when they see that much of your accounting system exists on spreadsheets?    The answer to that is a Definite NO!   The representative of your funder entities are more than likely accountant-types at the origin.    And, it’s likely that they feel that when they award dollars to a recipient organization, it’s like they have awarded their own dollars.

So, you see that when you really invest your time, and your position in taking your organization to the next level by way of competence in the management of the financial and compliance side of your organization, you reap pretty incredible benefits.    And – you really become essentially indispensable to your organization.   In this economy, isn’t that an incredible result of your efforts??    There’s simply nothing better for your comfort level than hearing/seeing the cheerleading section when you hit a home run with your reporting capabilities.    Let us know if we can help you develop a Cheering Section!

 

With headquarters in Springfield, MO, Huckstep & Associates serves clients in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin providing sales and support for Sage Software Products, Time Keeping Solutions, Third Party Add-Ons To Sage Products, Hosted Solutions, and IT Solutions.

Cost Allocation with Sage MIP – Part I

Posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Is your Cost Allocation process completed on Excel worksheets, and then hand-keyed to your financial and grant accounting system?   Many financial accounting systems don’t really support the allocation of administrative costs to programs or grants, as they really aren’t geared for the grant funded nonprofit or governmental organization.    And, often organizations unknowingly purchase a simple financial accounting system that is much more geared to a for-profit entity, yet there really is a huge difference in the needs of these two types of organizations.     This discussion is geared to complexity of the NonProfit organization that is highly funded by federal and state grants, and therefore has need to appropriately allocate their administrative costs in a reasonable manner to the various grants.

Of course, every organization is required to have a written cost allocation plan.     This plan becomes your roadmap to your allocation process, and if you are a NonProfit organization, and your grants originate from the federal government, then your organization must comply with the cost allocation requirements of OMB Circular A-122.

The Sage MIP Fund Accounting program offers three methodologies under which your allocation of costs can be carried out with ease.   The first is to use the MIP distribution codes at the time you enter invoices.    As an example, suppose your allocation plan indicates that all occupancy costs will be allocated to grants based on square footage utilization by grant.    You measure the space, and build a distribution code where each grant lists its space in number of square feet.    You may have 15 grant lines in that distribution code, and each has its assigned square footage entered.    The total of the 15 lines equals total square feet.   When making your entry for the monthly rent, you utilize the square footage distribution code, and it does the work of calculating the cost assignments based on the square footage by grant.    And, for any other cost for which an allocation by square footage by grant is reasonable, you use the same distribution code.

You likely have different bases for other types of costs, but it’s important to keep it reasonable.   Maybe you split all other costs based on direct salaries by program, or maybe over total expense by program.   But – you simply build distribution codes in Sage MIP for each basis defined in your written cost allocation plan.    At the end of your month, all of your allocation work is done, and you haven’t used a single spreadsheet!

The second possibility is for your organization to pool the administrative costs.    Maybe you can work with a single Administrative Cost Pool, but different general ledger codes in that pool are spread differently, just as above.    But, you would rather spread all costs at the end of the month.    So – you create your location to house the pooled costs during the month.    And, at the end of the month, you use your distribution codes to spread your costs using journal entries.     You avoid the many transaction lines when you use the example above on a $20 invoice that is being spread to 30 grants.    Your allocation is clean, and again, it didn’t take spreadsheets.

But – the best of all is to use the Sage MIP Allocation Management module.    We often call this module “distribution codes on steroids”.    You use the same administrative cost pool (or pools), and you build allocation codes that meet the criteria defined in your formal cost allocation plan.    At the end of the month, you simply run the allocation routines, and you validate the work they did, and post the transactions that are created by the allocation route.

Life without allocation spreadsheets…..wouldn’t that be a Wonderful World?

You might also be interested in reading:

Your Accounting System –Isn’t it supposed to replace manual processes? Part II – Cost Allocation

Cost Allocation – What about your written plan?

 

Helping nonprofits, human resources departments with fund accounting and HRMS software, reporting, and accounting services; Huckstep & Associates assists organizations throughout the central United States from Minnesota to Texas and Colorado to Michigan.

MichiganWorks! Honors 25 Alumni

Posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011

Huckstep & Associates was proud to be a Bronze Sponsor of this event hosted by MichiganWorks!

One of the perks of our job is a close hand look at the inspiring things MichiganWorks! and other nonprofits do for our communities.
Listening to the stories of these individuals who through the assistance of MichiganWorks! are now working and enjoying the confidence that comes from meaningful work is truly moving.

Be sure to read an inspiring story of one of the Lansing alumni here.

Huckstep & Associates is proud to have customers throughout the central United States including Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Wisconsin and specializes in accounting services, nonprofit fund accounting software, reporting and human resource management systems (HRMS).

Best Practices, NonProfitNew Year’s Resolutions Part I – Introduction

Posted on Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Well – it’s been an interesting Year!    And, 2011 is upon us.    So – what do we plan to do differently in 2011?

There are lots of areas to consider, and over the next few blog entries, I’ll be looking at, and discussing, those that certainly I believe are seriously important to your accounting system.    For instance, we’ll be looking at records retention, backups, month-end closes, cost allocation, manual processes, and various other areas where we believe there is room for serious improvements to your processes and procedures.    We’ll be talking about audit concerns as well.

While the economy has been lagging, technology has been in a serious fast-forward world over the last year or two.    Who would have thought that the iPad would sweep the world?   Who would have thought that we could now purchase an external hard drive with a 500GB capacity for just over $100?    Who would have thought that we would be using smart phones with huge screens, wi-fi capability, ready access to our e-mail and our office servers?     It’s absolutely amazing!

But, with the amazing part comes incredible complexity, ease of use, and excitement (depending upon your tech comfort level).

Bottom line, is we are all “drinking from the fire hose” these days.    There is more information that is being disseminated than most of us can ever understand.   But – just like the economy, and the world in general – life is changing.    And – we “gotta get there”!   But – most important is that we have to strengthen our processes and procedures, so that no stone is left unturned.

Join us over the next few weeks as we decrypt several of the latest issues into layman’s terms, and help you to understand the changes that have either already happened, or are imminent.

We invite you to join the conversation!     It is our intent to discuss what we see, but we really need the input of those who either agree, or would love to disseminate an alternative opinion.    It’s only through discussion, as well as consideration of alternative ideas, that we grow!

For now – catch us same time – same station – January 1, 2011!

 

With headquarters in Springfield, MO, Huckstep & Associates serves clients in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin providing sales and support for Sage Software Products, Time Keeping Solutions, Third Party Add-Ons To Sage Products, Hosted Solutions, and IT Solutions.