World Learning Graduates from a World of Paper

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World Learning has been creating a more peaceful and just world through education, development, and exchange since 1932. The global nonprofit organization operates not only an educational exchange program, but also an accredited university for international training, as well as other educational and development programs. Ten years ago, the complexities of this model were starting to get the best of World Learning’s accounting software and the finance team knew a change was needed. At that point, the organization had already struggled with the outdated financial module of their Datatel student information system for about a decade.

We recently caught up with Kote Lomidze, World Learning’s chief financial and administrative officer, who described the moment his team reached their breaking point. He said, “We couldn’t balance our balance sheet, and spent hours looking at why and trying to figure out which account was missing in the 300-line statement. We had 50,000 15-digit GL codes, so that was very difficult and we finally said, ‘enough is enough.’ The team was spinning its wheels in an unproductive way, so it was time to move to a better system in the cloud.”

Innovative Financial Management Builds Team Morale

Prior to making the switch to Sage Intacct, the morale of World Learning’s finance team was waning. People felt powerless to reach their full potential, since they were stuck dealing with paperwork and antiquated technology. Despite the team’s best efforts, producing the financials took up to four weeks, and others in the organization complained that finance wasn’t delivering. After moving to a modern cloud financial management system, Lomidze’s entire team embraced the new system, and are now considered innovation drivers in the organization.

In fact, Sage Intacct helped them achieve major efficiencies and other key advantages, such as:

  • Grew revenue while reducing overhead by $500,000
  • Shortened the monthly close by more than 30%
  • Tightened cash management with real-time visibility across 60+ countries
  • Integrated revenue data with Salesforce CRM and 2CP for greater accuracy
  • Saved thousands of hours each year and sped new hire onboarding by 65% via automations

Starting with basic accounting tasks, World Learning revamped things like their expense reimbursement process (which used to take weeks of mailing reports all over the world for approvals) and the financial close cycle (which often wasn’t completed until the 25th of the following month). Once they saw the benefits of Sage Intacct’s automated electronic workflows—including reimbursements in hours and a 30% faster monthly close—the finance team was hungry for more productivity and decided to tackle each remaining paper-based task one-by-one.

A Shipping Container Worth of Paper Does a Disappearing Act

Working with Sage Intacct consulting partner CliftonLarsonAllen, Lomidze took a look at the business processes that were wasting the most time, and turned to Sage Intacct’s platform services to build additional process automation. For example, they created a vendor portal on top of the system, which allowed new vendors to enter their own information in seconds, rather than require the finance team to spend 30 minutes of manual data entry each time the organization wanted to work with a new provider. Now, accurate vendor data feeds directly into Sage Intacct purchasing.

When it came to onboarding and offboarding employees, World Learning designed a workflow that starts with an external job portal where candidates apply, and eventually populates a new employee record in Sage Intacct once someone is hired. This shortened the time it takes to get a new employee productive by weeks, since Sage Intacct automatically triggers tasks that used to involve payroll, IT, and facilities. They can even check their Sage Intacct dashboards to see updates on what percentage of onboarding tasks have been completed at any given time.

Together, these custom automations save the organization thousands of hours of employee productivity, while revealing new insights that help the team take these benefits even further. “Since we implemented Sage Intacct, our portfolio has grown without requiring any added resources on our finance team—in fact we’re saving about $500,000 in finance salaries per year,” noted Lomidze. “Increased productivity allows us to repurpose these positions for more mission-oriented work.”

Managers Get Educated on Grant Forecasts and Project Budgets

World Learning’s leaders enjoy the unprecedented multi-dimensional visibility they now have across 79 active programs—along with the ability to track revenue and expenses in local currencies for tax reporting, consolidate the books in U.S. dollars, and produce quarterly grant spending reports on time. The finance team has more time to spend on verifying the data, and can analyze helpful information about projects. For instance, they compare costs and income by each grant, department, school term (spring, summer, or fall), project, employee, user, fund, customer, and vendor.

Lomidze shared, “As we use technology to close our months faster and faster, I have more time to look out the front windshield rather than the rear-view mirror. We’ve used Sage Intacct to predict some valuable things that we would otherwise not been able to see, such as how our fringe benefit rate is trending for the year.”

Sage Intacct also makes it easy for the team to produce accurate grant reports for the U.S. government each quarter. As a result of timely transparency into how the organization spends their funds, Lomidze has noticed an increase in donor trust. Additionally, around 500 personalized Sage Intacct dashboards offer managers a simple way to monitor their key metrics and keep an eye on things like day-to-day program spending and scope, while Lomidze uses his ‘CFO Daily Dashboard’ to keep track of the organization’s cash position, line of credit, endowment investments, indirect cost recovery, budget, income statement, and balance sheet. 

Watch our video interview with Kote Lomidze or read the customer success story to learn more about how Sage Intacct helped World Learning implement powerful process automations across the organization, and transform the finance team (in his words) “from bean counters to bean makers.”

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