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Nonprofit Project Accounting: CIBHS Gets out of a Script Trap

Nonprofit Project Accounting: CIBHS Gets out of a Script Trap

How much time and information do you need to manage a project or event? For one nonprofit, that was the organization’s bread and butter—a wide variety events and conferences per year. What can their journey teach you about saving time? Read on to find out.

The California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions

Dedicated to helping mental health and substance abuse professionals, the California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions is a nonprofit that manages nearly 300 online courses and a variety of in-person events and conferences.

With such a wide variety of events and courses targeted to different professionals, providing different amounts of credit, and costing different amounts of money, the nonprofit had to manage the entire process with only twenty program managers.

This meant that every single transaction had to be completed quickly and accounted for accurately—there was no room for error.

Choosing middle market cloud accounting software made sense for them: multiple managers, many different transactions, and a plethora of customers.

So, CIBHS implemented a cloud accounting platform. NetSuite.

They quickly found that they were in for a wild, inaccurate ride.

“After implementing NetSuite, we quickly learned that it was poorly suited to our project-based environment. In addition to the annual subscription fees for NetSuite, we ended up having to spend an additional 6 figures on a customization package with the company’s own consulting group – and it still didn’t solve all our problems. We had no predictability into our costs and feared that what amounted to a 30% hidden tax for customization would only grow over time,” said Tiffany Detinne, controller at the California Institute of Behavioral Health Solutions.

Simply put, the costs started to stack up with NetSuite.

  • A hard-coded SuiteScript customization ($)
  • Three days per month of manipulating PivotTables in Excel to Make up for the weaknesses in the customization ($$)
  • A hidden 30% ‘customization tax’ that would continue to grow ($$$)

Knowing that the costs would continue to stack up, the time spent would continue rising, and the previously-unknown customization tax would drain the organization, CIBHS decided to make a switch before NetSuite drove them to bankruptcy.

  • They needed visibility
  • They needed to save time by minimizing reliance on Excel
  • They needed to be able to simplify a complex project workflow
  • They needed to climb out of the ‘script trap’
  • They needed to reduce cost of ownership and gain a more predictable monthly cost

To simplify, CIBHS needed out of NetSuite, and they needed out quickly.

They found it in Intacct. With multi-dimensional general ledger tagging, flexible reporting based on what matters to a project based nonprofit, and the ability to do this without custom coding and complex reporting.

What they got exceeded expectations and thrilled the finance department.

“Because I can tag each item with several important dimensions, it is easy to slice and dice our financials by individual events, teams, customers, or even specific employees,” said Detinne. “As a result, our CEO and I can meet with program managers monthly vs. quarterly to discuss how we’re tracking on projects and review key performance indicators such as project profitability, actuals-to-budget and contract completion—so there are no more surprises to our business. I also have more time to closely monitor important nonprofit metrics like our daily cash position.”

What makes Intacct so beneficial for CIBHS, as well as the thousands of other customers? User-friendly yet robust financials, easy to generate reports that provide the right information at the right moment, and an easily accessed secure financial platform that works well with a variety of other software.

Whether for-profit, not-for-profit, or nonprofit; public or private; domestic or global; Intacct is easily implemented, robust, and can save you time and money.

Learn more about Intacct for nonprofits and project-based businesses, and learn more at an upcoming webcast on July 1, 2015: The Benefits of Integrated Project Accounting and Financial Management.

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