Over recent years, finance teams have had to incorporate more and more non-financial based information into their reporting outputs, which has led to an increase in the number of finance-focused individuals being involved in more organisational projects, especially when it comes to investing and adopting new systems.
The impact of Covid-19 has not just been financial, but has also led to organisations becoming acutely aware of the challenges presented to them of using older 'on premise' systems, not only from the basic struggles with gaining access to systems, but also with regards to the challenges of 'joining up' all the systems and getting meaningful data from them.
We've seen a rise throughout the various lockdown periods of enquiries around how we can help customers overcome these issues and our answer has been the same each time – by the use of the suite of products within Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365), which will not just give organisations a different platform to use, but will also improve efficiencies within charities both operationally and financially.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 - not just a different name
A popular misconception is that D365 is just a different branding name for a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, but in reality it’s a lot more than that, with specific products which have been built for (for example our NfP 365 Accelerator for non-profits), or can be tailored towards the charity sector (such as Dynamics 365 Business Central) with different offerings per size of organisation.
Access your data from anywhere at any time
Being cloud-based, the products within D365 allow users to access their data from not only PCs/laptops but also from mobile devices – meaning full 24/7 access to information. Data is held within the cloud securely with multi-layered, built-in security controls that safeguard data and streamline compliance.
Interact with Office 365 seamlessly
One of the great advantages of the D365 product base is the interaction with Office 365 products commonly used by finance teams such as Outlook and Excel. Users can access information from whatever product they are in via the standard connectors within the products themselves. An example of this is where you may receive an email communication from a donor or award/grant recipient contact. The individual within your organisation who has received the email, will be able to see contact information directly within Outlook without having to switch screens or log into another system, therefore reducing administration time, increasing operational efficiency and improving response rates to your contacts.
Use of the Common Data Model (CDM)
For myself with an Accountancy background specialising in reporting, the biggest advantage of adopting D365 is that all products use the Microsoft DataVerse (formally the Common Data Service) which implements the Common Data Model (CDM), a secure database that sits in the Microsoft Cloud. As implied in its title, D365 products have common structures to the data held within them, which is also the same for products on the PowerPlatform such as the reporting tool of PowerBI – which can be used to really bring your reporting to life across the full journey, from initial contact from a potential donor, to producing your SoFA reports and annual reporting statements.
I will be talking more about this subject with examples of how m-hance have worked with charities to implement end-to-end solutions using D365 products at the Charity Finance Group IT Conference on 25 March, in a session titled 'Understanding your data, from contact management to statutory reporting'.
I look forward to seeing you all there!
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About the author
Daniel Booth ACMA, CGMA, is Product Manager Dynamics ERP at m-hance, sponsors of CFG's 2021 IT Conference.
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