Monthly Archives

February 2023

How to Evaluate Software and Technology as Part of Digital Transformation

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person typing on laptop keyboard

If you’ve followed along in this article series about digital transformation, you know the importance of conducting a systems review and inventory and identifying your organization’s unique bottlenecks and pain points. Once you have this basic information in place, it’s time to consider software to help you complete your digital transformation.

Gather Your Team

Because most of the software that you’ll need will be used by multiple departments, it’s important that each department using it has a say in the final choice. Begin the software discovery process by gathering a team of representatives from each department who will help you review, evaluate, and choose the final software system.

Of course, IT should play a major role in the team. Partner with IT or other staff at the organization that are technology or accounting/finance savvy. Ask for their help gathering contact information from potential vendors and creating your request for proposal or project description.

Write the Project Description

A project description or request for proposal can be a big help when evaluating multiple software solutions and vendors. It will help you compare “apples to apples” when looking at all the different packages available.

Write out a description of the project, including key features needed and any other important information the potential vendors should know. Your IT department can fill in any information gaps they think potential software system vendors should know.

Other important information that you should share with the software vendors you’re working with during the discovery phase include:

  • The current software systems and technology you’re using (system review)
  • Needs analysis and requirements gathering (process mapping, pain points review)
  • Team members—their names and roles in the organizations
  • Decision-making process and the steps involved
  • The project timeline, including steps involved

Find a Consultant

An excellent way to save time and avoid software systems that aren’t right for your organization is to work with a software consultant though the initial discovery and vetting stages. A good consultant gets to know your organization and its pain points and will help you winnow out the products that aren’t the best fit for your needs. They may also know of software systems unfamiliar to you or your team that you should consider and will help you evaluate all the pros and cons of the various solutions under consideration.

Should You Share Your Budget?

Some companies are reluctant to fix a budget number to the project. They fear they will get taken advantage of if they have a large budget or ignored with a small budget.

Project budgets are important because the budget does determine the array of choices. Imagine walking into a car dealership and not having a budget in mind. It will be hard for the salesperson to help match you with the right vehicle if they don’t know your budget—your budget may be for an economical sedan or a luxury vehicle with all the bells and whistles.

You’ll end up wasting time looking at all the wrong vehicles if you don’t share your budget, and the same holds true for software projects. Have a budget range in mind and be honest with your consultant and vendors about funds available for the project. They will help you find a solution within the budget or help you understand the options available to you.

Vendor Turn Off

Sometimes, the software is right, but the vendor is a turn-off. Perhaps their salesperson rubs key team members the wrong way. If that’s the case, don’t ignore the software just because the vendor sets your teeth on edge. The same holds true for a charming or knowledgeable vendor who just doesn’t have the right software for your needs. Don’t follow a wonderful vendor into a bad software decision, and don’t ignore a great software package because of a bad vendor.

Ready to Begin?

The software selection process for an organization’s digital transformation should be taken slowly and thoughtfully. If you’re ready to begin, you now have the information you need through these articles to help you get started.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.

Identify and Document Your Organization’s Pain Points

By | Technology | No Comments
person "juggling" a file folder and shared documents in his palm

In our previous articles, we’ve talked about the importance of digital transformation as well as one of the initial steps in the process—a systems review. At the end of the systems review process, we recommended listing all the bottlenecks or pain points experienced in your organization as a step to identifying software needs to improve productivity and efficiency.

Today, we’re going to dig a little deeper into how to identify and document bottlenecks, pain points, and basically, all those things that keep your organization from working at peak efficiency.

Mapping Internal Processes

Each process within your organization includes multiple steps. Mapping an internal process means identifying and organizing the steps necessary to understand how the process unfolds. Once a process is mapped out, it quickly becomes evident when there are bottlenecks in the process that software is either helping or hindering.

Here’s a quick example: Nonprofit A reimburses employees for valid business expenses such as meals when traveling. Employees are required to submit their receipts and a form listing each vendor, expense category, and expense amount. They must staple the receipts to the form and a manager must sign the form. Then, the form is submitted to the Accounts Payable person, who enters the information into the accounting system. If approved by the CFO, the AP person issues a check to the employee.

Note how this example (which may be typical of small or startup nonprofits) relies heavily on manual forms, data entry, and checks. What if this could be automated?

This is a simple example of an internal process that, once mapped, demonstrates many areas where automation can improve efficiency. Newer accounting software may enable users to scan receipts, with software that decodes the scanned text and enters it automatically into the requisite fields. The request for reimbursement can be routed via email to the appropriate managers and electronically approved. And, in the revised scenario, reimbursement can be issued via direct deposit to an employee, another step towards improving efficiency.

However, without mapping out the internal process in a stepwise manner, it is difficult to see areas in which automation improves efficiency. The old, comfortable familiar, established may simply be taken for granted. Until it is mapped and examined, it may remain as a hidden or obvious bottleneck to organizational efficiency.

Where to Begin Process Mapping

The accounting department is a logical place to begin mapping internal processes. Examples include:

Accounts Payable and Disbursements

  • Expense approvals
  • Document management
  • Credit card management
  • Procurement
  • Vendor information such as new vendor information
  • 1099 Processing
  • Payment to vendors
  • Positive Pay File with Bank

Revenue and Accounts Receivable

  • Invoicing and statements
  • Customer tracking
  • Donor tracking
  • Events
  • Grant management (and restrictions on use of funds)
  • Revenue recognition
  • Receiving payments
  • Cash receipts (not AR) entry
  • Prepayments
  • Deferred revenue

General Ledger

  • Segmented/Dimension COA
  • Fund Accounting Systems (balancing)
  • Auto reversal of entries
  • Inter-company entries and eliminations
  • Batch processing and posting
  • Fiscal year/period close (soft/hard)
  • Allocation of time entry
  • Statement of activities
  • Functional statement of revenues and expenses
  • Accrual vs cash accounting
  • Report on multiple periods

As you can see, there’s a lot of ground to cover—and many processes to map. Once you’ve completed this step, however, you should have a clear picture of where automation can help remove bottlenecks.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.

Systems Review: Inventory Your Current Systems and Technology

By | Technology | No Comments
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An important part of any digital transformation journey is a systems review. A systems review consists of inventorying current systems and technology to understand precisely what is available, the purpose of each software, and how it is used.

Let’s unpack a systems review in three steps:

  1. Identify current software systems used throughout the organization
  2. Define purpose of each system and the use of the software
  3. Understand the strategic plan around the software’s use and how the various software systems interface with one another

Step 1: Identify Current Software Systems

Before you can understand how the systems work or interact, you must identify each system used in the organization. These systems may include operations, accounting, communications, marketing, and so on. If you have an IT department, they can help you take a complete inventory of each system. It may be helpful to note whether the system is hosted on premises or cloud-based and when it was last updated.

Step 2: Define the Purpose and Use

This is a critical step. By defining the purpose and use of each software system noted in step 1, you’re thinking through the who, how, and why of software use. It is helpful to set up a spreadsheet with a column for each software that you’ve identified and then, defining the purpose and use of the software under it.

For example, you may have basic business accounting software that you use throughout your organization. List the name of the software, then include who uses it—accounting, finance, marketing, etc. Next, write down the various functions it provides such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, invoicing, check ledger, credit card reconciliation, bank reconciliation, and so on.

Step 3: Understand the Strategic Plan

In step three, you’ll add details to your software inventory about where the software fits into your organization’s overall plan. Accounting software supports all areas of the organization, providing the financial backbone from which all business can be transacted. But what about other software you use? Everything from the office productivity package that enables you to send emails and write proposals to the special software you graphics team uses to edit images should be used in some strategic way to fulfill your organization’s mission. Now is the time to document this information.

Fitting the Puzzle Pieces Together

After the inventory is complete, it’s time to fit the puzzle pieces together. Once you have everything down on paper, you may notice gaps among the software systems you are using. Perhaps you have many legacy systems that have aged and are no longer supported by the manufacturers, but you’re not sure what you need to replace them. Or, some of the software systems you’re using don’t interface with other systems, which causes bottlenecks, redundant data, and misinformation.

Note all of these on a “wish list.” Problems aren’t just roadblocks, but rather opportunities. As you complete your systems inventory, you’ll find some gaps that require special assistance to fill. That’s where working with Welter Consulting can help. Vicki Welter offers a free consultation that includes a systems review. You can schedule it by contacting her at

The right software can automate manual processes, improve efficiency, and help every department work better together. A systems review is an important step in an organization’s overall digital transformation.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.

Getting Started with Digital Transformation

By | Technology | No Comments
person on tablet with overlay meant to show digital transformation

Digital transformation is the current industry-wide buzzword. But what does it mean? It means adopting and utilizing technology to improve an organization’s ability to support its goals and mission. Digital transformation impacts many areas of an organization beyond the obvious IT department. This technology can liberate the accounting department from time-consuming data entry. Instead, they can utilize their time to function as real accounting professionals, analyzing the data to shape and share their organization’s story.

Why Focus on Digital Transformation?

It is a common misconception to dismiss digital transformation as an unnecessary expense, just more software. Digital transformation moves beyond the mere utilization of software. It will usher in organization-wide change towards spending more time on data analysis and interpretation and less time on data gathering.

There are many reasons why finance leaders should be at the forefront of the move towards digital transformation. These include:

  • Finance leaders shape an organization’s overall story based on the data they interpret. Spending less time gathering and entering data and more time shaping the overall story equates to better support for the mission and vision of an organization.
  • Technology remains the best way to protect and secure data. It makes sense that the financial leaders in a company should not only be involved, but lead this effort.
  • Leaders define and drive change in an organization—financial leaders can define and drive digital transformation just as well, if not better in some cases, that the IT department leaders.

With the right technology support and the emphasis on how such technology transforms processes and outcomes in an organization, financial leaders will be in a better position to influence others.

Automation Is the Key to the Digital Transformation Journey

The right technology supports and facilitates digital transformation by automating mundane tasks. The best solutions make it so easy to automate routine tasks that organizations can immediately see the value. Automation frees time so that the finance team can strategize, forecast, plan and budget—all tasks critical to the success of an organization.

So, what can automation do for your finance team? Automation can:

  • Speed up monthly and year-end closing
  • Enhance and speed up the process of account reconciliation
  • Share information with people in other departments to help them make timely decisions
  • Reduce operating costs
  • Improve accuracy for transaction-based accounting processes
  • Disseminate critical information to managers and department leaders
  • Eliminate redundancy
  • Reduce manual data entry mistakes

What’s Stopping You from Accounting Automation?

As you review the list of benefits, embracing accounting automation may seem like an automatic yes. But organizations find there are several barriers that stop them from implementing accounting automation technologies.

Several reasons may be behind this reluctance to fully embrace automation.

  • A misunderstanding about the importance and need to prioritize technology and digital transformation
  • Not enough time to understand and embrace solutions—we can get so stuck in our daily activities that we lose sight of the big picture ideas that can shape and change our organizations
  • Feeling like it’s not the CFO’s job, i.e., that you might not know enough about technology to lead the digital transformation efforts
  • Resource limitations, including lack of budget and people to work on the project
  • Departmental silos—departments may not understand the positive impact that accounting automation can have on the entire organization
  • The sense that accounting is part of overhead, that it is not a department that can influence the overall course of a nonprofit’s mission or vision

One way to move beyond these perceived limitations is to assess how much time your department spends gathering information and entering it into the system versus actual analysis and interpretation. Sharing this figure as a percent or as hours with your leadership team or board, and then demonstrating the value that can be achieved by automation may convince them that supporting such an initiative is in the organization’s best interests.

Digital transformation goes well beyond the adoption of new software and systems. Yes, the right nonprofit accounting system is important. But, so is the mindset and the commitment of the team behind the transformative efforts. The CFO of the future is one who will lead their organization’s digital transformation.

Welter Consulting

Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please contact us for more information.