World Learning accelerated their digital transformation by using Sage Intacct to streamline their finance operations. Find out how this allowed them to achieve their mission
This article is sponsored by Sage Intacct - the nonprofit financial management platform that lets you pursue your mission more efficiently with sophisticated multidimensional database that lets you aggregate transactions and activities across your nonprofit organisation.
World Learning is a multinational non-profit organisation that has worked for over 85 years to create a more peaceful and just world. Their education, sustainable development, and exchange programs help to support local communities, strengthen the institutions that form the backbone of a democratic society, and build relationships across cultures. The charity works to support emerging leaders in tackling critical global issues like poverty, conflict, and inequality.
Their distinct approach to change incorporates the following key elements: experiential learning, leadership development, inclusive practices, innovation, and grants management. World Learning collaborates with local partners to find solutions that will truly work for each community.
World Learning work towards a more peaceful world through six program areas:
The education charity trained 280,785 people in 150 countries last year, through a total of 92 programs.
As a major organisation with a global reach, World Learning had a remote working element in effect before the onset of the pandemic. Through the use of Sage Intacct, alongside other cloud-based technologies, the charity had a head start on other organisations who began remote working for the first time in the last six months. This led to a smoother transition than the bumpy process of trial and error seen in many other organisations.
When World Learning began their digital transformation journey in 2012, remote or dispersed working presented unique finance management challenges. Chief among these was the integration of data flow. Like many large organisations with dispersed teams, World Learning were concerned about a lack of data sharing between separate teams, leading to data siloing.
The organisation needed an integrated data flow - particularly between CRM systems and financial management software. Automating the transfer of data presented its own challenges, as data compliance is a moving target. But once the process had been automated, a great deal of time was saved, and the process became more streamlined and efficient.
There were a number of reasons why Sage Intacct appealed to World Learning. One of the main reasons was the accessibility of cloud-based technology. This led to greater internal transparency with regards to data-sharing, as well as increased efficiency.
‘We wanted to move our financial operations to the cloud so that we don’t have to host the systems ourselves.’
The move to a cloud-based system also supported World Learning’s commitment to sustainability. The switch drastically reduced the amount of paper used for record-keeping. A surprising number of UK charities are currently still using pen and paper to keep track of their accounts, generating a tremendous amount of waste.
’We used to generate about half a container of documents every year that we needed to store. It’s greener, and being green aligns with our mission.’
‘We became 100% electronic. All the approvals are happening electronically, all the timesheets get collected electronically, all the employee onboarding and offboarding gets done electronically and all our facility requests are managed within our ERP.’
As an organisation dealing with global issues, World Learning must move quickly to respond to new challenges - challenges such as COVID-19. The increased automation of the charity’s financial processes allowed them to work in a more agile way, and to respond dynamically to changing circumstances.
The switch also gave an increased amount of visibility to internal stakeholders. One of the core precepts of charity finance management is the importance of accountability. With an increased number of charities applying for a smaller pool of funds, those charities that can prove the efficacy of their spending will be in a better position to secure further funding. This means that accountability is more important than ever.
The team at World Learning found Sage Intacct’s dashboards easy to use, ensuring that senior management could access key topline information quickly and easily.
‘The dashboards had the capability to get the right information to the right people at the right time.
There was no need to run reports, manipulate them in Excel and manually forward them to decision-makers.’
This further helped to increase the efficiency of World Learning’s operations, freeing up staff to focus more directly on the organisation’s mission of education, sustainable development and exchange programs.
‘We saved at least five full-time equivalent jobs just within finance. Probably more across the organisation.’
‘Budgeting was several months of process that involved Excel spreadsheets and a lot of wasted time across the organisation. Now it’s seamless.’
Alongside increased efficiency and greater transparency, one of the key benefits World Learning experienced was the ability to make more data-driven decisions. By breaking down data silos, and streamlining accounting processes, World Learning was able to more accurately calculate the number of students they were working with, enabling them to implement more detailed scenario planning. This makes it easier for organisations like World Learning to navigate unforeseen events like COVID-19.
These savings of time and capacity enabled World Learning to focus their energy and resources towards achieving their mission.
‘As time frees up and resources become available we can invest it in our mission.’
Although World Learning is a major organisation, their experience mirrors that of a lot of smaller charities who automate their financial processes. By utilising fit for purpose finance management software, charities can free up capacity to focus on other roles and increase the resources dedicated to achieving their mission.
Sage Intacct helps nonprofits pursue their mission more efficiently with a sophisticated financial management solution designed to automate and streamline manual processes so organisations can focus on achieving their mission successfully. Learn more about Sage Intacct for nonprofits here.
Read more about World Learning and how they are transforming financial processes