Posts Tagged ‘Sage Fund Accounting’

Online Version of Sage Nonprofit Available

Posted on Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Sage distributed a press release announcing the launch of Sage Nonprofit Online, delivering hosted online access to a bundle of nonprofit solutions.

Included in this solution is Sage 100 Fund Accounting (formerly Sage MIP Fund Accounting), Sage Fundraising 50, Sage Fundraising Online and Sage Grant Management.  All are available at an economic subscription price.  The bundled online solution, which provides remote access from any Internet connection, ensure user always stay current with the latest updates and reduces duplicate entry with integration between the systems.

Subscription pricing reduces initial capital outlay to improve cash flow and simplify budgeting.  The new pricing option allows nonprofits to pay only a single price per user per month for Sage Nonprofit Online, which includes automatic upgrades and tax updates, hosting fees, maintenance and support.  The cloud-based solution for managing financials, grants, online fundraising and CRM starts at $349 per month.

Please contact us if you would like to learn more about this new option.

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.

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.

What is the role of the Sage Business Partner (BP) and why do you need one?

Posted on Friday, December 10th, 2010

Sage Software is a leading giant in the development and distribution of business related software products.  Sage relies on authorized Sage Business Partners to sell and implement Sage software solutions like Sage MIP Fund Accounting, Sage Abra HRMS, Sage FAS, to name just a few.

Not all Sage BPs are the same.  Here are some questions to consider as you consider which BP is right for your organization. Which Sage products are represented by the BP? How important is the location of the BP?  This is the era of electronic communications and with remote access through such services as “GoToAssist” a BP can many times address your problems remotely, more quickly than driving across town to your site!  How well does the BP in understanding your needs and adequately addressing solutions to meet them?  How long has the BP worked with the Sage product that is being considered?  What do other customers have to say about their BP?  Ask for references and by all means check them out!

Your Sage BP can help you identify the best solutions for your needs; they can handle your acquisition of the Sage software, assist you with step-by-step implementation, and offer training that makes your staff confident and proficient on the software. After all, the Sage software solutions we work with are very robust and deserve the most effort with their implementation processes. As your Sage BP we want you to receive the best return on your investment. We strive to understand your total business and address your needs appropriately.

The decision to select the right BP is every bit as crucial as selecting the right software solution. Make sure that you select a partner who is committed to your success and has the expertise to get you there.

 

Helping nonprofits, human resources departments with fund accounting and HRMS software, reporting, and accounting services; Huckstep & Associates is proud to have customers throughout the central United States including Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Texas and Wisconsin.

Another Successful High Road to Success

Posted on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Well – the final reports are in. The evaluations are great. The hub-bub is over. We’ve all settled into the day-to-day outside of the crush of getting ready for the conference. And – the Thanksgiving Holiday is behind us, and we are steeped in plans relative to the location and content for the High Road Conference in September of 2011.

The High Road to Success conference sponsored by Huckstep & Associates and Z-Tech (Austin, TX) is a conference/training event for users of Sage MIP Fund Accounting, as well as the Sage Abra HRMS system. But – more than that, it’s a time to gather information and gain training time from both the sponsors and other users, and to spend time away from the office to gain concentrated knowledge relative to your fund accounting or human resource systems. We offer serious training time with several of the best in the business, as well as time with other users of these software packages. And, we bring in outside speakers who have excellent credentials in their specific areas.

The first High Road to Success conference was in 2007 in Breckenridge, CO. It was a great time in a beautiful location, although several felt the effects of the 9,600 foot elevation, including myself. But, the beauty of the mountains took over, and it was a wonderful time of learning.

In 2008 we were in San Antonio along the Riverwalk. The host hotel was the Sheraton Gunter, and some internet research suggested that the hotel was reputed to be haunted. No one saw a ghost that I know of, but Hurricane Ike threatened that week, and by Friday, folks from the South were bringing their dogs to the hotel to get away from localities where the hurricane threat was more serious. There wasn’t a drop of precipitation in San Antonio that Friday, but the dogs in the hotel provided quite a bit of entertainment.

In 2009, we were in Chicago two blocks off the magnificent mile, and the evenings had all sorts of possibilities for great food and/or entertainment. The training days always provide extensive mental challenge, and so it’s always rewarding to spend an evening with friends you’ve met at the conference for some conversation and camaraderie.

This year, we opted for St Louis, in the downtown area near the Arch and all of the downtown historical sites of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Again, we were in a historic hotel, which had been a bank in a former life, and the gift shop of the hotel was housed in the former bank vault. Nearby is the Old Courthouse, where the first two trials of the pivotal Dred Scott decision were made back in the 1847-50 era.

The bottom line is that by way of locations for the High Road to Success conference, we are committed not just to having an incredible agenda of great training opportunities on MIP and Abra, we are committed to bringing our clients to an area where there are opportunities for learning and fun.

Now we are planning for the location and dates for our 2011 conference. Our conversations with participants in St Louis re-confirmed our previous decision to offer the conference in September in 2011. They also confirmed that we need a location that is easy to get to by way of air travel, and provides opportunities for evening great food and/or entertainment. We are considering Nashville, Fort Worth, Kansas City, or Minneapolis for 2011 – and would love to have your input as we move toward finalizing the dates and locations. Of course, we can’t set the specific date until we know the location availability. So – please do let us know your choice. We’d love to meet you there.

 

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.