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Blog: Automated Accounting Systems and Other Tools to Support Growth

Automated Accounting Systems and Other Tools to Support Growth

Suppose you’re concerned about the growth of your organization. In that case, it’s only natural to focus on topics like membership recruitment and retention, marketing efforts, and ramping up your presence on social media.

While each of those processes matters a great deal, it’s essential not to overlook some of the behind-the-scenes technology and capabilities that enable you to keep the lights on in the first place.

This post focuses on key technology considerations that can impact your ability to grow and share some related best practices.

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Integrate technology across your organization

One of the most important priorities for most organizations is ensuring their various systems can talk with each other. Most associations have some combination of core systems, usually beginning with accounting, Association Management Systems (AMS), and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and sometimes extending to automated accounting systems and other solutions. Often these systems have been acquired and developed incrementally over the course of years, and in some cases, they interact effectively enough. But in other instances, there are disconnects and incompatibilities. When systems cannot talk with each other effectively, it can mean rework, errors, and poor-quality member service.

If you are having problems with systems that don’t interact effectively, there may be technology solutions that can help. Rather than simply creating more workarounds, sometimes the best approach is to speak with a technology integrator and explain your challenges.

Reducing the need for paper documentation

A technology solution that can deliver real value for your members and partners is automating aspects of your accounting system — particularly your accounts payable function. That can free up staff time so that they can focus on solving more complex problems that members are having related to payments or reporting. Transitioning to automated accounting systems can help you move toward a paperless (or nearly paperless) process for documentation and online bill payment.

While your bank may be able to provide partial solutions, in many cases, the supporting documentation doesn’t automatically transfer to your internal accounting software. More effective solutions essentially come with their own bill management and payment lifecycle, creating audit trails at the same time they’re generating payments. The solutions also provide staff in operating units greater visibility into their budgets while safeguarding your organization’s assets.

Cloud-based and SaaS solutions

Another area to look into is moving to a cloud-based and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system. This trend has been developing for some time, but it’s becoming increasingly important — especially regarding data security. In the past, some associations were able to operate with systems that lagged behind the most recent software release. Unfortunately, the increasing incidence of hacking and ransomware attacks makes keeping your system up-to-date more critical than ever. Cloud-based systems can address this need automatically.

A few additional words of advice

It’s worth pointing out that not all technology enhancements have the same impact on efficiency and member service. Don’t be taken in by the lure of the new and shiny. For example, you might get advice to install the latest, flashiest Learning Management System or enhancements to your website. However, these enhancements may not measurably improve your ability to meet member needs — and they also come at a cost. Investing in new technology is only smart to the extent that it helps you accomplish your mission.

When it comes to technology, it pays to question everything and be open to change. With the various automated accounting systems and specialized tools on the market today, you almost certainly have options you haven’t considered before.

Time to get growing?

There are a variety of best practices and models that can point the way to better outcomes. The stakes couldn’t be higher — but by adhering to these best practices and incorporating them into your management strategy, you can optimize your organization’s likelihood of success.

For more information and insight on increasing member engagement, contact Vault Consulting.

Catherine Robbins, CPA, CGMA
Catherine Robbins, CPA, CGMA
Catherine Robbins has more than 18 years of experience serving the nonprofit industry in the outsourced accounting practice group. Her responsibilities include the management and preparation of financial statements, analysis of financial statement...
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