Gaining Real-Time Reporting and Decision Making
Ottawa-based non-profit, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, faced financial reporting challenges caused by multiple projects and manual processes. Thanks to Executive Director of Corporate Services, Laurie Cairns, and Microsoft Partner, Corporate Renaissance Group (CRGroup), the company migrated its processes and systems to Dynamics 365 Business Central.
A year after implementation and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its global effects, the organization is seeing the benefits of a cloud-based system for streamlined accounting and agile financial and operational reporting on decision-making.
Supporting Canadian High-Performance Athletes
The Canadian Paralympic Committee is a non-profit, private organization with 25 member sports organizations dedicated to strengthening the Paralympic Movement. The Canadian Paralympic Committee’s vision is to be the world’s leading Paralympic nation. Its mission is to lead the development of a sustainable Paralympic sport system in Canada to enable athletes to reach the podium at the Paralympic Games. By supporting Canadian high-performance athletes with a disability and promoting their success, the Canadian Paralympic Committee inspires all Canadians with a disability to get involved in sport through programs delivered by its member organizations.
The Need for Automation & Real-Time Reporting
Prior to launching Dynamics 365 Business Central in April of 2019, the Canadian Paralympic Committee relied on an off-the-shelf accounting tool and manual Excel-based reporting to handle financial and operational planning and analysis. With processes being carried out manually, the organization was experiencing an inefficient use of staff resources and a lag in generating financial reports, which resulted in a problematic delay in strategic decision-making within the organization.
“We needed flexibility in reporting and the ability to generate reports automatically from our accounting software vs. exporting and doing everything in Excel,” said Laurie Cairns, Executive Director of Corporate Services for the Canadian Paralympic Committee.
Given the complex nature of the organization, the importance of proper expense tracking and approvals, and the volume of projects, the organization needed a better way to manage their business.
The Search for a Better Solution
The Canadian Paralympic Committee team set out to find a solution to meet their needs. The chosen system would have to:
- Satisfy the committee’s top requirements for real-time data and reporting
- Support the organization’s IT strategy of moving to the cloud
- Provide users with access from anywhere
- Integrate with Office 365, SharePoint, and other Microsoft systems that were being used and were planned for use in the future
Having previously worked with Microsoft Partner, CRGroup, for Dynamics GP, Laurie turned to them for guidance. “I had worked with CRGroup and knew that I could count on their guidance and trust in them for recommendations. The CRGroup team spent time with me assessing my needs and really listening to what I was looking for,” continued Laurie.
After a careful analysis of current and future needs, CRGroup recommended Dynamics 365 Business Central for core accounting, operational planning, and reporting needs. CRGroup also recommended Microsoft Power Automate for augmenting Business Central with custom workflows.
Getting Started with Business Central
The Canadian Paralympic Committee officially selected Dynamics 365 Business Central and began work in December of 2018 with partner, CRGroup.
“The entire implementation was seamless and smooth thanks to CRGroup. Despite starting at year -end, the CRGroup team was there to support us every step of the way. I built strong connections and friendships with our consultants and was always impressed with their level of responsiveness, experience, and guidance. It was also very helpful that they had accounting designations because they understood the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of our needs.”
With the help of CRGroup, the Canadian Paralympic Committee started in Business Central with a new Chart of Accounts and over 2 years of historical financial data was brought over for reporting. CRGroup worked with Laurie to leverage the ‘dimension’ feature in Business Central to reduce the number of projects significantly. CRGroup created new reports in Business Central that factored in the new chart of accounts and additional 4 dimensions so the Committee could look at their business in real-time and from many different angles and levels – giving them information to make decisions quickly and accurately. Finally, CRGroup worked to create workflows using Power Automate, which would allow for a streamlined approval process and reduce the time it takes to process transactions.
The entire implementation only took three months, and by April of 2019, the Committee was live with Business Central.
Success with Dynamics 365 Business Central & Microsoft Power Automate
Since launching, the Canadian Paralympic Committee has realized significant benefits from Business Central and Power Automate. By providing greater visibility into projects, expenses and data, and by automating vital tasks, Business Central has helped to save valuable time, streamlined processes, and has produced accurate data and real-time time reports for decision making.
Biggest Impacts of Dynamics 365 Business Central at the Canadian Paralympic Committee:
- Manual entry and reporting processes have been eliminated, shifting staff’s time from administrative tasks to more strategic activities
- Month-end close and reporting timelines have been significantly shortened.
- The flexibility in reporting has allowed the organization to better segment and use data for strategic decision making and in operational planning.
- Using Power Automate, the organization’s expense claim process was completely automated. Staff can review and approve expenses in Business Central quickly and from anywhere.
- Errors in expense submissions are now under control due to the ability for users to see coding and identify issues before they are even posted.
Business Agility & Remote Accessibility in the Wake of COVID-19
As a cloud-based system, Dynamics 365 Business Central has allowed the organization’s finance team and employees to work remotely and securely access their data. This is important for today’s modern workforce that increasingly expects systems and technologies to be available and accessible ‘on-the-go’, but has been especially crucial in the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, where staff have required remote access.
“Given our current environment and the COVID-19 pandemic, we would have been halted for business reporting if we hadn’t made the move to Business Central. We also would not have been able to be as flexible and nimble in our shift to a remote working environment.” Said Laurie.
“Business Central has transformed our accounting processes and has greatly enhanced our ability to make decisions that have a real impact on our organization and the many organizations and individuals that we support.”
– Laurie Cairns, CPA, Executive Director of Corporate Services