Making an impact and improving the lives of citizens across the state of New York is the ongoing goal of non-profit organization Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE). For over 100 years, it has done just that, but its legacy reporting and financial system created operational inefficiencies. Fully aware of their need for cloud software with non-profit capabilities, the CCE team looked at several solutions. CCE’s long-time technology partner Prelude Consulting Inc. recommended Acumatica.
According to Statewide Finance Specialist Roxanne Churchill in CCE’s Acumatica customer success story, “[W]e found that Acumatica was definitely far and above the best.”
In 1894, CCE began extending Cornell University research from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and the College of Human Ecology (CHE) to people living in New York’s 56 counties and in all five boroughs of New York City. The non-profit partners with local, state, and federal government agencies and is supported by the national Land-Grant system and Cornell University. CCE’s focus is on improving farming/food production; parenting, family life, and family dynamics; child health and nutrition; veteran and military family opportunities; water, land, and energy conservation and management; and much more.
It’s no surprise that CCE was selected to be Acumatica’s 2022 Impact Customer of the Year. The criterion for this award is to be an organization that “exists to make the world a better place,” and CCE fits the description perfectly. The organization was recognized during the Day One Keynote at Acumatica Summit 2022 for their sustainability and community enhancing efforts.
Prior to becoming an Acumatica customer, CCE’s efforts were severely hampered by its financial solution, Sage ACCPAC. The outdated system had been tasked with managing the finance, reporting, and tracking requirements for 1500 employees and 65 different databases for over two decades. CCE’s 12 Taste NY outlets, which sell food and crafts made in the state, operated on QuickBooks disconnected from their Sage legacy system.
Needless to say, there were more than a few frustrations, including manually processing data on spreadsheets, not being able to monitor compliance across the organization, having limited access to the financial system due to licensing restrictions, and taking a month to get month-end reports. Orleans County Executive Director of CCE Robert Batt says, “When we were working with Sage, there were obviously some roadblocks to success. Most frequently, it would be things like my staff not being able to get information they needed in a timely manner.”
Bringing CCE Into the Current Century with Acumatica’s Cloud Software
CCE’s must-haves for the cloud software that would bring it “into the current century” were very straightforward. The team wanted an ERP for non-profits, and it had to be affordable as well as able to accommodate many users.
In addition, Roxanne says, “We also needed it to be very user-friendly because we have a wide range of skills and abilities across the CCE. We also wanted to make sure that we had what we needed for all people and all things; a one-stop-shop, where we could find all information— especially grants and contracts—in one place without having to look at extra spreadsheets.”
Acumatica, with its ability to track specific government grants and programs, handle non-profit accounting, provide a subaccount structure, integrate with other applications due to its Open API, and offer unlimited user licensing, was exactly what they were looking for. CCE implemented Acumatica Advanced Financials with Fixed Assets, Expense Management, Order Management, and Excel-based reporting tool Velixo in less than six weeks…during the pandemic.
“Implementation went so smoothly, it was ridiculous,” says Robert. “There was no downtime. All of a sudden, we were getting things much more quickly.”
They were also becoming much more agile, which was highlighted by diginomica’s Jon Reed in an article on Acumatica Summit 2022, and again in late April 2022. In their interview, the CCE team told Jon that the video shown during the Day One Keynote exemplified their new-found agility. “Just as we were doing the taping for that video, [Robert] just stepped aside on the spot and approved a [scholarship voucher]. That’s the type of agility that would never have happened in the old system.”
Other benefits that were never going to happen with the old system?
- Instant visibility into all non-profit grants and programs, providing an accurate view of financial health for 65 connected tenants
- Automate manual processes, empowering employees with self-service capabilities and saving countless hours
- Improve reporting responsiveness and eliminated long wait times with real-time information
- Boost employee productivity and reduced onboarding and training time with an intuitive application
- A robust financial platform that flexes to support how non-profits operate, handling fund accounting and grant management with ease
- Achieve a connected platform to support ongoing growth and fulfill its mission, improving the lives of New York residents
Before Acumatica, Robert says their educators had no access to financial information, nor could they generate reports. “Now with Acumatica, they have a great deal of independence, know what their programs are doing, know what budget they have left to spend, and they have more instant decision-making power.”
CCE’s Mission Aided by Acumatica
With the implementation of Acumatica during the pandemic, CCE ensured business continuity by easily pivoting to the unexpected work-from-home requirements (and reducing paper waste in the process). The non-profit also launched online programs available to participants across the U.S., which allows them to reach more people while increasing their bottom line.
Ultimately, their mission to serve the needs of their communities has never been more supported than it is today. Watch their video here.
“Acumatica is amazing,” Statewide Finance Specialist Elizabeth Klug says. “There isn’t software out there built specifically for non-profits, but Acumatica is pretty close to handling everything we need. We haven’t found anything we can’t do with Acumatica.”