Community Living South Muskoka (CLSM) provides lifetime support to all those impacted by a developmental disability, utilizing skilled staff and effective partnerships involving the individual, the family, and the community with the result that the individual is accepted as a valued community member.
CLSM was having a tough time supporting multiple systems, which was taking a toll on their internal staff. Managing employees was difficult since vacation requests and personal information were tracked manually. At the same time, reporting was very cumbersome and would take a long time to retrieve information from the previous system.
It was clear that CLSM could benefit from an integrated system with flexible reporting and scheduling tools and comprehensive employee self-serve options.
“We desperately needed an integrated system to pull information quickly and easily. Also, scheduling conflicts and vacation requests created many difficulties and communication challenges for the staff.”
- Rick Van Der Ley
Director of Administration for CLSM
The implementation of the General Ledger took less than two months. Their project manager Victor designed a template that simplified the importing of data from the previous system to the new one.
"Working with him has been a great experience, making us feel that Sparkrock has our best interest at heart. Overall, we’re thrilled to get information out of our system so easily! Sparkrock’s solution was an obvious choice when we learned that it encompassed scheduling, finance, and reporting modules in one integrated system. It’s great that we don’t need to support 3 or 4 different systems and struggle to make them work together anymore."
- Rick Van Der Ley
Director of Administration for CLSM
After replacing their previous 10 year old system with Finance & Accounting, and Workforce Management solutions, CLSM was extremely satisfied. It is easy to get information from the reporting modules in one integrated system.
With their new system, CLSM now has real-time, on-demand data analysis and reporting. They can manage and track their budgets and allocate funds to different community programs. They are also now able to export and refresh data directly in Excel, which allows users to set up detailed reports and update them with the click of a button.
From a user standpoint, their new accounting system provides the better navigation they were looking for. With a more user-friendly environment, employees can navigate from one table to another with minimal clicks, or through the solution-wide search functionality. Also, employees now have the ability to access the information they are looking for without having to ask the Finance department. This will also ensure end-users are seeing the most up-to-date, real-time information with refresh capabilities.
Their new scheduling tool makes it easy for their HR department to make informed scheduling decisions for any location, eliminate shift conflicts, notify employees of work shifts automatically, avoid human error, and produce perfect timesheets every month.
All of this adds up to providing easier, more-streamlined administrative processes, which allows more time and money to be funnelled into the valuable services they provide for their community.
The District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board (DNSSAB) is committed to promoting and enhancing healthy communities, and strengthening and empowering their citizens. With a wealth of in-house experience, they carry out their mission in a citizen-focused manner, and by offering the best quality of services possible.
DNSSAB was using an outdated and costly system that made them rely on Excel spreadsheets to complete most tasks. Reporting was a hassle since the legacy software did not easily support basic accounting transactions and reporting, like providing aged Accounts Receivable listings.
“Everything took a long time. It took two Finance Officers to handle the many workarounds we developed. On top of that, the system was not user friendly and delayed the simple process of retrieving financial information.”
- Sara Tonks
Director of Finance and Administration
With more than 75 funds to manage, the organization was searching for a solution that catered to their specific needs and could handle complex reporting to 4 different government funders. The top 3 goals set out by Tonks were flexibility to use dimensions, user-friendliness, and flexibility in reporting and accessing of information.
Sparkrock’s Finance and Accounting solution that was implemented solved all of the problems that DNSSAB was facing when it came to reporting. They can now add many different dimensions to their data, allowing them to slice and dice information and arrange it exactly the way their funders want it.
Furthermore, their new system can integrate with other systems to make importing and exporting data simple and fast, while providing real-time numbers. Workflows also streamline processes to ensure that funds and grants go through the proper approval process before being allocated to one of DNSSAB’s programs.
After implementing their new solution, DNSSAB reduced the immediate accounting costs by $20,000 and realized significant improvements in efficiency. They virtually eliminated human errors of keying in information, and their reporting became a breeze!
What’s more, their month-end reports used to not be ready until the 3rd week the following month; now they are able to run reports any time, in real-time. They’ve reduced the reporting time from a month to usually less than 2 days.
Overall, because of these new-found efficiencies, DNSSAB estimates saving about $50,000 per year, which can be reallocated back into their services.
Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board is committed to delivering a vibrant Catholic education. They ensure quality learning experiences through community partnerships that nurture each student in body, mind and spirit and embrace the teachings of Christ, giving witness to Gospel values.
Although Bruce-Grey first partnered with Sparkrock in 2009, reaping efficiency benefits in their finance system such as the ability for more flexible and accurate reporting capabilities, which are crucial for school boards to maintain their funding, their Payroll solution was previously outsourced to a third party vendor. This caused bottlenecks and significant strain on the department, which had to process payroll for over 500 permanent and 300 casual employees.
Before integrating, they would be manually posting a journal entry of 300-400 lines, and have to calculate it and input it manually every pay period.
"We weren’t able to be flexible enough to handle the complexity of some of the deductions and earnings that had to be calculated.”
- Joyce Benninger
Supervisor of Payroll
When the school board realized that they were wasting a large amount of time inputting and calculating payroll manually, they didn’t have to look far to find a solution.
In 2014 they brought Sparkrock back in to implement their HR/Payroll suite, including employee management and advanced scheduling tools. Alecia Lantz, Superintendent of Business and Treasurer, was particularly enthusiastic about the full integration of the HR/Payroll suite with their finance system and being able to have all the modules under one roof and speaking to one another.
“It’s a more streamlined process of getting all our data into the General Ledger, and we can better analyze our accounts by being able to drill down to the minute detail of each transaction, including by location. And we’re really excited that account allocations are so much more accurate. If an individual is working in two different jobs, we can now split that out in our GL.”
- Alecia Lantz
Superintendent of Business and Treasurer
Bruce-Grey also wanted to improve automation to give the schools self-access to end-to-end processes for requisitions, purchase orders and invoicing, and to provide their users with real-time data with which they could use to make better business decisions.
This was achieved by implementing and integrating the Sparkrock Employee Self Serve portal, which gives users real-time access to the data and information they need via an online portal.
The administrative burden of filing was huge for Bruce-Grey CDSB before the new system, so an ‘electronic filing cabinet’ was incorporated into the 2014 project by integrating the document tagging and management tool, Kwiktag, with the Sparkrock HR/Payroll, procurement and finance processes.
The tool allows users to tag documents with unique, retrievable codes; for example, as opposed to having to collate documents by vendor – of which there may only be one in a batch of invoices received – employees can now tag documents with the codes and index them against attributes like ‘vendor.’ Accounts Payable staff can then streamline all data into a single file, and then file by batch.
“Instead of digging manually through files we can now just pull invoices and other documents up on a computer screen – it’s been a huge time saver.”
- Alecia Lantz
Superintendent of Business and Treasurer
The technology also means “we can set our auditors up with a computer, and they’re able to search documents on their own… that has saved us time and money as well.”
HR/Payroll employees have also been freed up from all the time they used to spend searching for information and manually filing so that staff can do higher-priority work such as analysis. “There’s a great deal of analysis that can be conducted with the new technology solutions,” says Lantz. “We now have the ability to break down our analysis by ‘location’ and ‘group’ and drill down to the minute detail of each transaction.”
The new Employee Self-Serve Portal has also improved the school board’s efficiencies. Designated users, such as principals, at each of the 13 schools now have increased budgetary control and smoother procurement processes since rolling out the Employee portal.
About 100 staff use the tool to access their pay stubs and T4s, change their profile information, submit vacation time and more – all online in a secure browser. While all staff are empowered by the self-serve portal, the 300 casual employees in particular love how they can enter and check their hours online.
“They aren’t thinking we’re hiding how many sick days or vacation days they have,” says Benninger. “They’ll be able to see at a glance all their statistics. If they have a name change or an address change, they’ll be able to make that change themselves and control that.”
"Other benefits of the new technology have been an incredible reduction of paper we process and tasks happening more quickly. Overall, we just wish we implemented sooner!”
- Alecia Lantz
Superintendent of Business and Treasure
The Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board has nurtured the development of students and families since 1847, and are fervently committed to high standards for achievement in teaching and learning. They are very proud of the quality of instruction within all schools and their commitment to inclusive learning spaces that provide differentiated opportunities for growth and development.
Huron-Perth Catholic DSB first became a Sparkrock client in 2007, implementing our Manage – Finance & Accounting and Manage – HR/Payroll solutions.
“We evaluated the leading competitors in the K12 school board business application market, but what impressed us most about the Sparkrock product was its flexibility. With Sparkrock we have the flexibility we need to respond to changing Ministry of Education reporting requirements. In addition, we feel confident that with the dedication of Sparkrock to the education market we’re purchasing a product that will continue to be well supported in years to come.”
- Kevin Kale
Manager of Business Services at HPCDSB
Recently, Huron-Perth Catholic DSB went through a substantial upgrade to bring their solution to the most current version available.
Sparkrock supported Huron-Perth through the transition by constantly reassuring them with meetings and phone calls that they were on track with their implementation. Because the school board was 9 versions behind, they were very nervous about the transition, and particularly nervous about their data transferring accurately.
“Sparkrock really guided us and left no questions unanswered. They were there all the time, they really held our hands.”
- Lisa Regier
Accounts Payable at HPCDSB
Sparkrock also sent Application Consultants on site to help their team navigate the new software and the particular intricacies it holds for school boards. During the upgrade, the Sparkrock Customer Success team made numerous recommendations.
Mary-Ellen Ducharme, Manager of Finance, notes that “if your client success team recommends something, they know the product inside and out, listen to them because we found that 6 months down the road we wished we had acted upon the recommendations at the start.”
In the end, HPCDSB went back and made the recommended changes and have experienced a smooth-running solution since then.
With their upgraded finance and HR/payroll solution, Huron-Perth is now able to do dimension validation at the time of posting, which has been an incredible time-saver for them. Using dimension combination validation allows them to check accounts before loading. If one is missing, they can quickly upload it and maintain their data integrity when they have to do reporting for Schedule 10.
Because their previous version was so old, they didn’t have the option to do validation prior to posting, so when it came time to do reporting for their schedules they would have to do numerous reallocating journal entries and it took a lot of time and energy to go back into their records and determine where things should have been properly posted in the first place. Now using dimension combination validation right in their GL prior to posting they can rest assured that they have accurate records the first time around and trust the integrity of the data being pulled into their Ministry reports.
Mary-Ellen Ducharme notes that, “The solution is great because any time that can be saved between me and my team means that we have more time to provide support out in the schools to our portal users, to our department heads, and to our office assistants.”
“We believe it’s important to stay current because change is constant, we want to be up to date. We are a school board, so our teachers and students are always on the cutting-edge of technology, so we certainly want to be on the same level as them. We want to have the best that’s out there, and to us, that’s Sparkrock.”
- Mary-Ellen Ducharme
Manager of Finance at HPCDSB
Waterloo Catholic District School Board began as a one-room schoolhouse in 1836 and has grown to be the 8th largest Catholic school system in Ontario. Their mission is that as disciples of Christ, they will educate and nurture hope in all learners to realize their full potential to transform God’s world.
Waterloo Catholic DSB began their journey with Sparkrock over 10 years ago. They were faced with increasingly complex financial reporting requirements, and the school board struggled with its aging ERP software, which its staff found difficult to use.
As a public sector organization, Waterloo Catholic DSB makes transparency and accountability a high priority. As a result, the organization’s demand for financial reports was and is high. Its reporting needs were also becoming more complex due to changing accounting standards and new legislation aiming to promote accountability. Technology tools had played an important role in helping the school board meet these needs, but the aging BAS technology it was leveraging began creating challenges for the board as it grew.
“We were using technology implemented in 1983. It was functional, but we continually had users complaining about how difficult it was to use. Our users also had difficulty reading the data that was generated by the system. As our reporting needs grew, we found ourselves up against the wall in terms of what our old system could provide. Clearly something had to give.”
- Shesh Maharaj
CFO/Superintendent of Corporate Services and Treasurer
The school board was also concerned about security issues around its existing solution. The product had been slated for an upgrade for six years and as the upgrade was yet to materialize, they felt the DOS-based solution was not providing the level of security Waterloo Catholic required for its confidential information. With these needs in mind, the organization decided to seek out a business application solution that would be easy to use, cost effective, and could meet its complex reporting requirements efficiently and securely.
In 2004 Waterloo Catholic began working with Sparkrock (then Altus Dynamics) on implementing a business application solution.
Nicola Dickinson, one of Sparkrock’s founding partners, commented that, “As is the case with many education organizations, Waterloo Catholic had strict budgetary parameters for its new solution. This only reinforced for us the fit of the Microsoft Dynamics technology to their needs, as the solution is very economical.”
Sparkrock then began to work with Waterloo Catholic to ensure the solution fit precisely with the school board’s needs. The seamless integration between Sparkrock and Waterloo Catholic’s other IT systems also helped ensure that financial information was easy to access any time. Drill-down functionality and on-the-fly filters in the Sparkrock solution helped Waterloo Catholic transform budget tracking documents from passive summaries to practical instruments that offer precise statements with fully updated information.
The school board now has complete financial insight across the organization so it can make timely and informed decisions—with data from both the current fiscal year and previous years. But the feature of the solution that made the it stand out furthest above competitive products was that it works like other familiar Microsoft products, helping reduce the time required to learn how to use the software and fuel Waterloo Catholic’s productivity.
Waterloo Catholic immediately felt the benefit of their new solution in 2004. “With the help of Microsoft Dynamics we have revamped our budgeting process. Tasks that used to take days to complete now take only hours,” said Maharaj. “The difference is truly amazing. We got our weekends back!”
Budget management was simplified for Waterloo Catholic with the help of Sparkrock’s Finance solution and the cash management features. The solution automates bank account management tasks, as well as the entire check-writing process. The school board now also has more visibility into its budgetary processes with bank reconciliation tools and bank account statistics reports.
With the ability to import cleared cheques into the business management system automatically, tracking of budget spending has become easier for the organization while data entry requirements have significantly decreased.
Waterloo Catholic also became able to email purchase orders, which allowed them to eliminate the need for a dedicated fax line, a modem, and software which was used to manage the faxing process under their old system. Simplifying the process has helped the school board to realize both cost and time savings as administrative staff can now focus on more strategic tasks.
The ease of use of the new solution provided the school board’s staff with the ability to not only generate more reports in a significantly streamlined and quicker way, but it also helped them make sense of the results. Where previously staff members looking for specific types of information would have needed the assistance of an experienced report writer to generate a more complex report, today they are comfortable performing such tasks on their own.
“The user-friendly interface is the biggest immediate benefit we’ve seen. With our new system, transactional data is easy to read, budgets are easier to monitor, and users’ understanding of financial data is increasing across the organization. Our staff are now comfortable generating reports on their own to find the data they need—it’s a huge step for us.”
- Shesh Maharaj
CFO/Superintendent of Corporate Services and Treasurer
Waterloo Catholic DSB has not looked back since their original purchase from Sparkrock back in 2004. Over 10 years later, Waterloo Catholic still believes Microsoft Dynamics provided by Sparkrock is still the right choice for a sound financial and accounting management system for their board and the 55 schools they service.
Committed to meeting the increasing demand for school space and growth while maintaining the focus on success and achievement that keeps York Region students performing consistently above the provincial average.
Many of their processes with their system were painfully time consuming and labour intensive. From a purchasing perspective, the board had virtually nothing to go off of for reporting and there was little visibility into the process itself.
Implemented K12 Finance Solution. The YRDSB finance team operates more strategically and proactively with faster access to data and leveraging robust reporting tools. For bank reconciliations, they used to all be done externally from their system, but now with the integration of the General Ledger, it can all be done within the solutions.
Since implementing Sparkrock, the YRDSB finance team operates more strategically and proactively with faster access to data and leveraging robust reporting tools. The increased visibility of real-time data has been extremely useful for purchasing
"These areas where time and effort is saved benefit all members of the school board, although getting all school users on board for a new system can be tough. It is a big change, but ultimately once users learn the new system they truly enjoy it.”
A few of the ways the board got the user level enticed by the potential of the solution is with functionalities such as reporting. These new reports are being delivered to them every month, showing them more and more data that pertains to them, which allows them to become excited about how the solution can improve their work. By demonstrating what the solution can do for them, it combats the uncertainty of having to learn something new.
To provide responsive and individualized services that foster the hopes and dreams of people and their communities.
They were ready for a digital transformation because of the time- consuming inefficiencies they had from disparate systems in their operations. The staff’s challenges stemmed from administrative processes that were done manually which took a lot of time – especially the payment of their 200 foster parents, which happens twice a month – they had to manually enter every dollar amount for every parent.
New Directions has scaled from a $21 million organization into a $51 million organization because of the switch from a disparate system to a single ERP platform. Instead of manually keying in every amount, they’re able to import a list of contacts with all of the amounts to pay directly into the General Ledger – something that took hours now takes seconds.
New Directions has been able to grow tremendously by increasing their efficiencies and reducing the time it takes to complete administrative processes.
The biggest time saver for the organization has been how they’re now able to pay their foster parents. Instead of manually keying in every amount, they’re able to import a list of contacts with all of the amounts to pay directly into the General Ledger – what used to take an hour now takes seconds.
One of the most complicated areas of scheduling for New Directions is that 32 of their homes are scheduled 24/7, but this is all managed manually. Overtime costs become a problem because finding available staff with the right qualifications must be done over the phone.
With the new HRP solution and Scheduling functionality, all of these processes will become automated, allowing staff to go online to see what shifts are available, while built-in alerts will notify managers when certain staff are approaching overtime hours.
Kenora District Services Board delivers needed social services to all citizens in the District of Kenora, Ontario. They provide assistance to Ontario Works, Social Housing, Emergency Medical Services and Early Learning and Child Care Services under the vision that with forward thinking and engaged employees they can achieve consistent service and better outcomes.
As Kenora District Services Board expanded they needed a more advanced financial management solution and several other product enhancing features to support their operations. They had three main pain points.
The first was reporting; with their existing financial software, reports were time consuming to create and the capability to easily update reports was not there.
The second was navigation; within their system it was hard to find what they were looking for. It often took several clicks or drill downs to find relevant information and the search capability of the system was not thorough.
Lastly, end users did not have access to the information they needed. The Finance team was constantly being asked for data and figures, which had to be manually pulled and distributed. Since this data was a snapshot, it became stale very quickly.
By implementing our integrated Finance solution, KDSB was able to achieve greater operational efficiencies, including easy access to real-time data, allowing for better decision making and increased employee productivity now that staff could access financial information without dependence on the Finance department. The new system not only provides access to this information, but also employs an intuitive user interface that makes finding specific data quick and easy.
After implementing their new solution, KDSB was able to immediately reduce their accounting costs quite drastically and realized significant improvements in efficiency.
The new solution virtually eliminated human errors of keying in information, and their reporting became a breeze! With a flexible system that could be updated to meet changing ministry standards, their month-end reports were able to be completed in a fraction of the time.
Overall, because of these new-found efficiencies, KDSB is now saving a considerable amount of money per year, which is being reallocated back into their services.
The Learning Enrichment Foundation (LEF) offers childcare services, employment and settlement services, skills advancement programs, language training, youth programs and entrepreneurship programs to individuals and families in northwest Toronto.
Their accounting software was unable to deliver on the complex reporting and information requirements of the foundation’s board and funders. Generating reports that documented the impact of funding across a wide variety of services required searching through paper files, huge amounts of manual effort and comparing spreadsheets side by side to track revenues and expenses across hundreds of contracts.
We helped LEF migrate to our enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, one that includes finance, workforce management, payroll and employee scheduling.
LEF now has the power to expand their programs without growing their headcount. Their accounting staff now perform higher-value tasks than simply maintaining cumbersome spreadsheets. Their new ERP solution supports better decision making, helping the organization report back to the board of directors and funders to demonstrate the positive impact funding is having on the individuals and families they serve.
The Canadian Museum of History (CMH) operates the Canadian Museum of History, the Canadian War Museum and the Virtual Museum of New France. In addition to its mandate to protect and curate items of national cultural importance, the Museums function as centres for research and public information on the social, military and human history of Canada.
The Museum had long run on a legacy ERP system which made reporting a long and highly labour intensive process.
“We had been using an old ERP system but we’d struggled as a finance team to get information out of it. It was very old, not user friendly and very labour intensive. Reports came out in PDF format which then had to be manually transferred into Excel.”
- Linda Hurdle
Chief Financial Officer.
The system, by its nature also dictated many of the processes and procedures at the organization and it therefore had a broad impact museum-wide. Processes were manual and paper-heavy resulting in time consuming delays, inefficiencies and frustration, organization wide.
Having assessed their requirements and discussed possibilities with Sparkrock, a project was undertaken to replace the existing ERP system with Sparkrock 2016.
Augmenting the backend, Sparkrock Employee Center was installed, distributing role specific access to certain functionality, allowing non-core users the ability to view a report, approve an invoice, check budgetary status etc. All of this had to be completed in a very short timeframe (4 months) in time for April 30th year end.
“Generating the quarterly reports for the Board used to be incredibly stressful for the entire finance division. But that’s not the case anymore,”
- Linda Hurdle
Chief Financial Officer.
1. Reporting & Analysis
Now that the labour intensive element of the reporting function has been replaced, the stress of the quarterly reporting and reporting up to the Board has been removed. What used to take 3 full time people 2 days (2,880 minutes) to output from the old ERP can now be generated by a single click, in less than a minute, a 288,000% improvement.
2. Better Decision Making
With improved reporting and analysis on accurate up-to-date figures, the Board and senior management now have the data and the time they need to make more informed decisions to run the organization.
3. Total Procurement Visibility
The Board gained end-to-end visibility on from purchase order to payment, with requisition approval workflows and automated orders based on business rules.
4. Improved Staff Productivity
Staff are no longer burdened with manual processes such as re-keying of information or having to deal with mountains of paper invoices.
5. Integrated Solutions
Using solutions from Microsoft ensures that integration and inter-operability is built into the products at a base code level.
6. Much More Information
Much Better Access: With the solutions they now have in place, Finance staff at CMH can gain access to more information and drill down into records to see what is behind the topline numbers.