Despite the apparent drawbacks, many organizations continue to rely on spreadsheets for their accounting needs. Spreadsheets are cumbersome to interlink, for example, making it necessary to manually rekey data to produce graphs, charts, and reports using data from two or more spreadsheet-based sources. One error accidentally introduced into a single formula can throw off the entire total and give a false picture of the data. And let’s not forget the time it takes for data entry, formula lookup, and formula entry.
It’s easy to understand why many organizations still use spreadsheets. They’re familiar and bundled into office productivity suites, so the cost is minimal. Also, they can be used by anyone with rudimentary computer skills.
However, given the numerous drawbacks of continuing with spreadsheets and the many benefits of shifting accounting into a modern, computerized system, it makes sense to move to accounting and financial management software for your organization’s accounting needs.
Five Benefits of Moving from Spreadsheets to Software
Every organization can reap enormous benefits from moving away from spreadsheet use and tapping into the power of cloud-based accounting and finance platforms. Five benefits almost all companies experience include:
- Greater efficiencies: Every accounting function is easier in an accounting software system. Accounting software enables you to enter checks efficiently and quickly into a digital check register, confirm payment receipts and expenses, and track them against specific accounts. Reports can be run with the click of a button: balance sheet, cash flow statement, unpaid receivables, income statements, and more. Additionally, some software comes with the ability to generate charts and graphs. What used to take you hours will take mere minutes with the right software. Additionally, advances in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) enable workflow automation that saves additional time.
- Improved clarity: Spreadsheets make viewing progress towards goals across multiple programs or funding lines difficult. With an accounting program, you can access numerous metrics and track them more easily against Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other goals.
- Faster and easier reconciliation: If it takes forever to reconcile banking and credit card statements at the end of each period, you’ll find it much easier and faster to do so in a computer program. Both processes are more efficient and make it easy to spot discrepancies in the reconciliation.
- Enhanced forecasting: Manual forecasting that relies upon spreadsheets is time-consuming and error prone. Using accounting and financial management software enables more accurate forecasting. It also makes it possible to extend forecasting timelines, which is nearly impossible with spreadsheets.
- Time saved: Software enables you to complete tasks in minutes what used to take hours. Reducing spreadsheet reliance immediately saves hours per week that can be spent on other tasks such as budgeting, consulting with program managers on their financial and accounting needs, and more.
Accounting and Financial Software for Modern Nonprofits
Many accounting and financial software packages are on the market today, some explicitly geared to nonprofits. It is recommended that nonprofits avoid “off the shelf” business accounting software packages. Many of these lack the functionality nonprofits need to track revenue and expenses against program lines, for example.
Sage Intacct is a cloud-based accounting and financial software package created specifically for nonprofit organizations. Over 11,000 for-profit and nonprofit companies worldwide use it. It enables fast, accurate accounting, enhanced visibility into KPIs and forecasting, and excellent reporting. Perhaps most importantly, it automates workflows, making it a time saver for a busy accounting department.
There are many more accounting software choices available, and it can be confusing to review and compare them. Working with a consultant who understands nonprofit organizations’ unique needs and challenges is the best way to select the right accounting and financial software package for your needs.
Moving from spreadsheets to software is essential for nonprofits. While it may be tempting to continue using spreadsheets to save money, the time saved by transitioning to an accounting and financial software system is priceless. It’s time saved that can be put towards achieving your mission—and isn’t that worth it?
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.