One of the challenges that many not-for-profits experience is how to provide financial information to program managers so that they can better manage against their budgets. One way to do this, as I’ve written in the past, is to give your users access to your accounting software so they can run their own reports and queries, as needed. The challenge with this option, of course, is that most accounting software packages charge extra for each user so it’s fairly expensive to give program managers direct access to the software.
Fortunately, there are several other ways to provide information to those who are not in the accounting department. These include:
- Periodically printing reports to PDF files and then e-mailing the files to the program managers or putting the PDFs in a folder on the server that everyone can access.
- Using the dynamic reporting capabilities of Excel to create real-time Excel based reports. This assumes, of course, that you have an accounting software application like Microsoft Dynamics GP that allows you to do this.
- Create your reports using the SQL Reporting Services (SRS) report writer that comes with Microsoft SQL Server. The advantage of this option is threefold:
- You have total flexibility on how your reports will look, including having the ability to include graphs and charts.
- You can automatically restrict the reports based on who is running the report so, for example, a program manager can only see the accounts he or she is responsible for. Hence, instead of creating 20 different reports for 20 program managers, you can have one report that simply restricts the output based on the program manager.
- Users can run the reports on demand.
While all of these options are workable, the challenge is that there is no one spot where non-accounting users can go to run or see their reports. Hence, it can be both confusing and frustrating for the users. This is where SharePoint comes into play. SharePoint Foundation, which comes standard with Microsoft Server, allows you to establish a common portal or reports library for all of the relevant reports and other documents (e.g. Word documents, PDFs, etc.). This provides your program managers and other stakeholders with one-stop shopping. All of their reports are in one place. No longer will they need to jump around from one spot to another to find the reports they need.
Maner Costerisan – a Michigan-based CPA firm and technology consulting firm specializing in helping Not-for-Profits improve operations and support their mission through financial accounting, CRM and productivity software solutions. We are Certified Partners for Microsoft Dynamics GP, Intacct and Avectra Social CRM. For more information on how we can help you excel in these challenging economic times, please contact us or visit our website.