No nonprofit organization will get eager or significant donors without good financial reporting. The ability to keep close tabs on money going in and out is key to keeping the organization running smoothly. In fact, financial reporting is so important that many nonprofits using Microsoft Dynamics as their overarching ERP software are adding third-party solutions (Independent Software Vendors) to improve this aspect of accounting.
Here are three criteria to consider when choosing a financial reporting tool:
- User Friendliness — If the tool is too complex for your accounting staff to use, it’s a waste of money.
- Collaboration — Even small nonprofits need software that promotes teamwork.
- Security — Access rights and password protection keep sensitive data secure.
Beyond these overarching aspects, there are several elements to evaluate when shopping for financial report writing software. Here are four basics to keep in mind:
1. Let Integration Lay the Foundation
Choose the way you’d like to pull your financial data. Are you able to accomplish your duties simply using the built-in Dynamics tools or do you need more flexibility? Using a BI data store, like an online analytical processing (OLAP) cube or data warehouse, greatly increases your analytical performance. Your preference for an OLAP cube or a data warehouse could narrow down which products you can choose.
2. Choose Your Preferred Platform
Excel is probably the most popular software in the finance realm, so many add-in solutions simply expand on this platform by adding more analytical functions to the toolbar ribbon.
3. Get the Job Done On the Go
With more people working from home or alternative locations, nonprofit employees need the ability to access data and get the job done while away from the office. Hybrid offerings that have both Excel- and browser-based capabilities let you create, automate and manage financial statements from anywhere in real-time.
4. Consider Future Investments
You may only need accounting software for one aspect of the organization now, but if you choose one that is part of a full Business Intelligence suite, you will be a step ahead when it comes time to implement the next piece. For example, most nonprofits have big budgeting needs, so it helps to have both reporting and budgeting tools as part of the same product suite for better compatibility and overall easier management.
If you’re interested in learning more about third-party financial reporting tools, we invite you to attend our free one-hour webinar, Not-For-Profit Budgeting, on April 26.