Scripture Union Queensland
Scripture Union Queensland has enhanced the speed and accuracy of its financial management function by moving to SaaS.
Improving the lives of young people, underpinned by a commitment to the Christian faith, is what motivates the team at Scripture Union Queensland (SU QLD). Its mission is to bring God’s love, hope and good news to children, young people and their families. Its vision is to see each child and young person connected and supported in community, serving others, and experiencing fullness of life.
The non-profit organisation works with churches and community groups to support children through school chaplaincy, camps, at-risk programs and outreach. More than 400,000 Queensland students are supported by Scripture Union’s chaplains and around 5,000 young people attend their annual camps.
For more than 10 years, SU QLD relied on multiple software applications to manage its finances and reporting, which were difficult to use and required the transfer and duplication of data.
Director of Finance and Administration for SU QLD, Sally Davis, said the cobbled-together system posed risks because it relied on the knowledge of specific team members and was manually resource intensive.
“We didn’t have a fully integrated system, coupled with the fact that our reporting systems were clunky,” Davis said.
“Our accountant had it humming along the best she could, but the trouble was that everything depended on her being there to make sure it was working.
“We weren’t agile in terms of being able to produce information or reports quickly. We had to download data and then manipulate it to get what we needed.”
Scripture Union Queensland wanted to embrace a more flexible, scalable and cost-effective solution.
“A SaaS solution aligned with our overall strategy of moving everything to the cloud and we also wanted something that would talk to our CRM and other parallel systems,” Davis said.
Scripture Union Queensland modernised its legacy finance systems by implementing TechnologyOne’s Financials Software as a Service (SaaS) solution in March 2020.
SU QLD assessed a number of vendors across four main areas: user and functional requirements, the vendor experience, commercial value, and legal and compliance.
“We had a big list of requirements and obviously, as a NFP, the dollars and cents matter, but we also wanted to work with a company that had a reputation and longevity for delivering a good experience for not-for-profit organisations,” Davis said.
“Each vendor was graded on these criteria and TechnologyOne came out in front.”
TechnologyOne’s ERP solution tailored for health and community service providers is incredibly easy to use and seamlessly integrates with other software used to manage clients and service delivery.
“It was also good to have a Brisbane-based vendor who is actually interacting with you directly—SU QLD, and other SU’s across the country, have used agents to facilitate implementation in the past and it hasn’t always worked well,” Davis said.
TechnologyOne’s SaaS ERP solution has reduced the finance team’s frustration and increased its responsiveness.
“TechnologyOne’s solution is much more intuitive,” Davis said.
“Before, a simple question would take days to come back with an answer, whereas in our current system you can get the information readily. We have anticipated the types of reports that we need and they’re ready to run as soon as somebody asks a question.
“We’ve been able to analyse data and produce Annual Performance Reports, which we just didn’t have time for before. It’s improved the understanding of our performance across our management team and the Board,” Davis said.
Core processes like accounts payable, accounts receivable, bank reconciliation and financial reporting have all been streamlined. Previously, the organisation’s profit and loss statements and balance sheet had to be done outside of the finance system, because it couldn’t handle SU QLD’s project structure.
“Our chart of accounts is a bit complicated. So, being able to create our own customised reports within TechnologyOne is a lot easier,” Davis said.
“In just one click we can complete over 20 management reports for every department each month—it went from days to produce those reports to less than a minute. Just Incredible. More time can now be devoted to adding value by analysing and providing commentary on results.”
Davis said SU QLD has saved time, effort and money, despite a reduced headcount.
“One of our finance team members left at the start of the year—that’s meant fewer people doing the same amount of work, but because of TechnologyOne we’ve coped well.”
In just one click we can complete over 20 management reports for every department each month — it went from days to produce those reports to less than a minute. Just Incredible.
Scripture Union Queensland's perspective
Clarity on goals, and good communication and project governance, were key to the success of Scripture Union Queensland’s digital transformation.
“I think the first thing is to be very clear about what you want the system to do for you and then measure it accordingly,” Davis said.
“We had an experienced project management board who provided advice and asked the hard questions that made us stop and think.”
While the project faced some initial resourcing hurdles, this was overcome through open communication and a collaborative approach. Central to this approach was a well thought-out, phased project plan with specific deadlines, dependencies noted and responsibilities allocated to the appropriate project team members. The detailed project plan was kept on a shared platform and updated daily, visible to all project team members, including the TechnologyOne PMO.
“Communication is key, whether it’s within your team or with the vendor,” Davis said
“There were definitely challenges that arose on both sides during the project, that were amicably resolved to all party’s satisfaction.
“I was impressed by TechnologyOne’s level of honesty—there was no buck-passing. They just committed to investigating and fixing the issues.”
David added: “They anticipated things before we realised we needed them and made really good suggestions.”
SU QLD’s senior leaders, including its Chair and CEO, expressed their thanks in a letter sent after go live, praising TechnologyOne’s consultants’ “unwavering support, leadership, advice, counsel, guidance and direction”.
They wrote: “The highly mature technical and project leadership skills that you demonstrated were essential and critical to the ultimate success of the project."
Partnering with TechnologyOne from purchase through to go live also increased SU QLD’s confidence in a positive outcome.
“You don’t get information lost in translation when you work with the one vendor,” Davis said.
“In the lead-up to our project I interviewed a number of other not-for-profit entities and they agreed that having a third-party implementer came with many pitfalls.
“I find that if the company themselves have skin in the game, so to speak, the relationship is much stronger and certainly there’s more trust. Essentially the outcome is better for everybody.”
SU QLD is part of a global Scripture Union movement that began in the late 1800s and now operates in over 130 countries. In 2021, the 10 Scripture Union organisations operating within Australia plan to join forces.
Sally Davis said the adoption of TechnologyOne’s SaaS ERP solution had put SU in a better position to manage the financial aspects of the merger smoothly.
“The fact that we’ll be able to readily report on each region or entity, as well as any consolidation of those, is valuable. Our system has more depth and can do more in terms of national reporting, which I anticipate will also lead to some cost savings,” she said.
“Growing our mission across Australia is the aim of the merger. Behind that is also finding efficiencies and reducing costs where possible—doing more with the same amount of resources.”
Spotlight on SaaS
Cloud-first systems are a key element of Scripture Union Queensland’s strategic plan.
“As we’d already implemented a number of other SaaS products, it was much easier to choose a SaaS financials solution that would integrate with those systems,” Davis said.
Implementing TechnologyOne’s SaaS ERP solution partially contributed to SU QLD cutting its IT infrastructure costs.
“We were running two separate data centres, which meant that we had a large hardware investment that we had to renew every four or five years,” Davis said.
“Moving to SaaS was a more agile approach that meant we didn’t have to invest in hardware or try to anticipate our future processing needs.
“With SaaS as part of the mix (i.e. SaaS and IaaS) our infrastructure is now scalable, and we can buy as much capacity as we need month-to-month.
“We are saving money, we are more agile, and our back-up systems are significantly better because we’ve got built-in redundancy.”
TechnologyOne delivers a true SaaS model by partnering with Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) to provide secure and scalable cloud architecture.
TechnologyOne SaaS Platform Director, Daniel Sultana said: "Through our partnership with AWS, we are providing Scripture Union Qld with a highly secure, reliable and efficient SaaS solution. This means they can focus on their core business of helping improve the lives of young people, rather than the underlying technology."
When the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the need for social distancing, Scripture Union Queensland’s whole team was able to quickly transition to remote working.
“We were happily in a situation where everybody had a laptop and could work directly from the cloud because we’d adopted various SaaS solutions across the organisation,” Davis said.
“So it really was a matter of people picking up their laptop and going home. That’s how simple and easy it was.
“TechnologyOne was a major part of solving the finance part of the puzzle—helping us bring everything together to create a fully-integrated cloud environment.”
About Scripture Union Queensland
Scripture Union Queensland is a Christian organisation seeking to bring God’s love, hope and good news to children, young people and their families. It works with local schools, local churches of all denominations, and community groups, towards a common vision: To see each child and young person connected and supported in community, serving others, and experiencing fullness of life.
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