Top 5 Ways Sage 300 is Ideal for First Nations
First Nations have distinctly unique requirements when it comes to the functionality of their internal systems. Not even considering the potential to manage multiple businesses on their land, in order to manage things like membership, multiple locations, different types of service enterprises and government funding, First Nation bands require many of the same features that a business does. An Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution allows First Nations to replace multiple disconnected systems, spreadsheets and databases with one integrated system that provides all of the tools, flexibility and control required to manage their needs and accounting requirements. Sage 300 (formerly known as Accpac) is an ERP that is uniquely suited to meet the needs of First Nations, and with the added benefit of a flexible design First Nations can start out small and as their needs grow and change, they can expand the features of Sage 300 to accommodate them.
From our experience working with several Aboriginal businesses across Canada, over many years, we’ve pinpointed the top 5 ways Sage 300 is ideal for First Nations:
1. FINANCIAL REPORTING
One of the requirements for Government Funding is detailed financial records and reporting. The majority of First Nations bands have some combination of different locations and multiple service types, such as Healthy Services, Family & Child Services or Housing Services, and getting the financial records from multiple segments into one place for accurate financial reporting is a big challenge.
The financial reporting features in Sage 300 are extensive, making financial management faster, easier, and more accurate for First Nations clients. It allows for multiple General Ledger account segments so First Nations can easily track and manage different service enterprises, locations or even companies. Come time for financial reporting, the General Ledger and transaction information from each of those account segments can be merged into one through the ‘General Ledger Consolidation’ feature, enabling Aboriginal businesses to gain a full picture of their financial standing.
The standard financial reporting features in Sage 300 are already extensive, but if First Nations require a wider range of reporting features they can activate the Sage Intelligence add-on to gain access to more features for generating reports, and automation of report distribution.
2. INFORMATION TRACKING
One of the biggest challenges faced by First Nations is having a system in place that can track a diverse range of information that is accessible across various locations and service segments. Before implementing an ERP, most First Nations have important information stored in several different systems that are managed by multiple people, making information tracking both time consuming and possibly inaccurate.
Sage 300 allows First Nations to track data in one integrated database that is accessible for all users. One of the many ways Aboriginal organizations can use Sage 300 is by using the Sage Project and Job Costing features. For example, some Government funding requires First Nations to have specific training, which can be tracked in Sage 300 by creating ‘project jobs’ for each person and tracking events & information as ‘transactions’. In Job Costing, ‘Transaction and Optional’ fields can be added to provide more tools for tracking information. All of the tracked information can be used to provide detailed reporting that can be submitted to the government as proof of eligibility for funding. Transactions can also be used to manage housing projects and other services the same way, providing one central place for information to be collected and maintained.
More often than not, the person or people who handle First Nation’s payroll aren’t dedicated accountants, they normally wear many hats and have many responsibilities. This means that they don’t have the time or resources to dedicate countless hours trying to learn a complex system. Sage 300 Payroll is both simple to use and easy to learn so First Nations can transition into the new solution painlessly.
Payroll in Sage 300 is also very flexible, which means it can be setup to satisfy the unique needs of First Nations. One specific example of the benefits of the flexible payroll setup is the ability to properly report Status Indian earnings on T4 (box 71).
4. FLEXIBLE INTEGRATION
Although the majority of information and processes can be moved into Sage 300 directly, many First Nation bands and businesses have custom application programs that can’t be replaced by an ERP. Sage 300’s open structure allows it to be integrated with other custom First Nation application programs allowing, for example, transactions to be imported or informational fields to be viewed in the Sage database. This allows First Nations to access all of their important information through their Sage 300 ERP, instead of in multiple places, and create reports based on all of their data, not just some of it.
Furthermore, Sage offers a wide range of core modules and add-ons that can be used to customize Sage 300 to offer the unique combinations of tools and features that First Nations desire. For example, Sage CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and Sage HRMS (Human Resource Management System) both provide First Nations indispensable tools for member management and managing government funding.
5. WORKFLOW PROCESSES
Within Sage 300 the Visual Process Flows allow for streamlining the transaction process based on the requirements of each company, department and/or service. These process flows can be customized and assigned to individual users, giving clear visibility of project status and transparency of who is responsible for what. This might not sound like a big deal, but, for example in family and child services, workflows are an important tool for tracking all of the information (i.e. transactions) in a case, determining the next steps and easily assigning an individual to complete them, making sure nothing falls through the cracks.
First Nations organizations are unique in that they involve many different areas, each with their own business & reporting needs, under one umbrella which also needs its own tracking & reporting. Sage 300 is a powerful ERP solution that offers First Nations all the tools they need to be successful in their current situation and as they grow. As described by Larry Oshust, Sage 300 Consultant at The Answer Company, “Sage 300 allows First Nations to do so much more than just manage accounting processes. It gives them the tools to create reliable financial reports and if their needs change, the flexibility to adapt and expand the functionality of their Sage 300 solution by adding a variety of Sage core modules and add-ons.”