Change within any organization, whether as a result of internal or external factors, is inevitable. The ability to seamlessly adapt to change is an important key to maintaining sustainability, financial viability, and healthy growth. International and non-profit NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have unique challenges to face in the face of change as they serve and are accountable to large numbers of individuals and other organizations which may include:
- Donors and funders
- Concerned parties
- Business partners
- Government and private agencies
- Program beneficiaries
Internal restructuring and evolving reporting criteria by external organizations, along with a host of other factors, can compromise an individual’s ability to comply with new reporting procedures. Today’s global marketplace can further exacerbate these issues as they typically span a number of different languages and currencies that need to be taken into account. These “drivers of change” generally exceed staff resources and their ability to respond quickly to compliance issues such as:
- Changes in tax filing requirements
- New financing structures
- Modifications in financing levels and / or procedures
- Regulatory requirements adjustments
The growing demand for nonprofits and NGOs to be more transparent simply adds to the burden whenever internal changes occur. These changes, which are unavoidable, can be due to factors such as:
- The implementation of new programs
- Internal restructuring
- Changes in general business procedures
- New financial management initiatives
Organizations that undergo rapid and / or frequent change, either internally or externally, must be prepared to instantly adapt on a global scale without disrupting their day-to-day operations, while remaining transparent and accountable to organizations and companies. people they do business with.
The most successful international NGOs and non-profit organizations have come to understand the value of hiring a professional and fully integrated ERP (enterprise resource planning) system that enables them to effortlessly tackle each and every driver of change. .
When considering the implementation of an ERP system, organizations must first determine what they consider to be their main drivers of change. All identified scenarios must be addressed for the ERP system to be successful. The chart below shows, as a percentage, what most organizations anticipate as potential changes that would incur significant costs due to any necessary internal system rework.
Changes like these would normally mean that significant financial resources would have to be allocated to expensive external IT consultants. With a professional ERP system in place, organizations would have the ability to address these changes internally. This is a critical factor to consider as it would allow organizations to redirect more of their budgets to higher revenue generating projects.
Successful ERP systems must give users the ability to tackle major reorganization and restructuring changes internally from their desktop without the need for costly reprogramming by IT professionals. Some of the more common problems that organizations should be able to address internally include:
- The ability to compare newly acquired business functions within a single cohesive technology platform.
- The ability to make changes to current methods of organizing or segmenting products.
- The ability to implement processes, responsibilities and structural changes in departments of a divided nature.
- The ability to make changes to a financial organization system while maintaining existing structures for comparison purposes.
- The ability to move a cost center from one division to another.
There are three main categories that any ERP system must address in order for it to be a viable and profitable solution within any organization.
1. Responsibility – As mentioned above, NGOs and non-profit organizations are accountable to a number of people and other governmental and non-governmental organizations. They must be able to respond quickly to ever-changing requirements, as well as scrutiny from all relevant parties without having to employ expensive IT professionals and / or outside consultants. To achieve this level of responsibility internally, an ERP system must provide the following capabilities.
- The ability to control access to data, complete with a full audit trail while ensuring data integrity through rigorous security protocols.
- Quick access to real-time information to help improve critical decision-making in easy-to-understand business language that is relevant to those who receive it
- Increase service levels by optimizing the way information is shared within the organization and affiliates.
- Simplify various reporting requirements for all donors / funders with the ability to adapt to any and all changes quickly and easily.
- Comprehensive responsibility for all grant expenses with respect to restricted grants
2. Transparency – It is imperative that users can see their financial situation through the Internet, at any time and from anywhere. All users must be able to monitor and identify KPIs (Key Performance Initiative) in easy-to-use dashboards available on the internet or mobile devices and relevant to their specific roles. (i.e., program / department managers, chief operating officer, chief financial officer, chief executive officer, project accounting and field office staff, etc.) Some of the factors that ensure a high level of transparency that an ERP system must address include:
- The ability to monitor available funds (particularly those with specific restrictions). This will allow users to immediately determine if a specific program or activity is allowed and if funds are available before placing an order.
- Have a wide range of ready-to-use reports available that can accommodate frequent changes in process procedures.
- The ability to monitor each and every event, allowing users to quickly respond to any issues that require immediate attention.
- Accessible full audit trails showing approvals and accountability at all stages of any process
3. Efficiency – Organizations can increase their productivity by eliminating manual tasks by simplifying administrative procedures through a single, visual workflow engine. As changes inevitably arise as a result of things like growth and reorganization; efficiency in administrative and other functions must remain constant. This continuation in levels of efficiency is commonly known as Post-Deployment Agility and is critical for organizations to remain viable. International organizations have the additional challenge of providing reliable, relevant, and accurate information to all employees, regardless of language, currency, and alternate time zones. Expert ERT systems will allow you to reduce or even eliminate third-party tools, as well as simplify maintenance agreements and IT environments through a single integrated .NET solution that supports all MS Office applications. Greater efficiency can also be achieved through process improvements such as:
- Relieve staff of tedious and time-consuming, repetitive and manual tasks that are vulnerable to errors. This gives employees time to focus on higher value-added activities, more efficient cost containment, and superior program delivery.
- The ability for employees to submit requests for goods and services, as well as to enter time and expense reports while checking budget availability.
- Have a single file available that can store paperless approval processes and store scans of all relevant documents.
For nonprofits and international NGOs to fully benefit from any ERP system, it must provide comprehensive operational support along with strategic management solutions for organizations undergoing rapid and continuous change. The right ERP system must also provide a complete, integrated solution that is role-focused and can eliminate multiple separate internal and third-party business systems. Having the flexibility to add more applications when needed is another critical consideration when looking to implement any ERP system. Professional and dedicated ERP providers are constantly adding to their range of specialized plug-in applications to help users optimize their operational processes in an effort to make them more efficient, transparent, and accountable. ERP solutions must encompass superior post-deployment agility, wide-ranging and functional industry support, open access to information across the organization, while minimizing the total cost of change and ownership.
It is equally beneficial when users have the option of choosing a traditional installation, a client-server installation within their own IT environment, or a fully hosted solution delivered through a world-class data center that can be accessed through from a web browser. It is also important that organizations have options for fully integrated add-on modules as their needs dictate. Some of these modules may include:
- Financial management
- Asset Management / Field Service Maintenance
- Planning, budgeting and forecasting
- Automation of business processes
- Procurement Directorate
- Project billing and costing
- Analysis and reports
- Payroll and Human Resources
A critical value-added benefit of implementing the right nonprofit management software is the ability it provides users to quickly and appropriately adapt to each and every driver of change in a cost-effective manner. As with all financial decisions, an organization’s ROI (return on investment) must include all related expenses and produce positive long-term effects.