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The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) faced constant challenges with its strategic planning, annual budgeting process and actual to budget monitoring. Chief among them: the questionable integrity of the numbers, short review times and no early read on any upcoming variances.

Too often, we would be surprised that our expenses at the end of the year were significantly higher than the projections made in September/October – just a few months before the year close.
— Joseph Janela, CFO, APhA

Janela and his team created a plan for sustainable change, including a more disciplined approach to the budget process. APhA implemented Solver’s new budgeting and reporting BI360 software platform to help support and streamline their budgeting approach.

Time for a Turnaround

APhA has 80 cost centers with 36 budget managers, which meant 36 different budgeting techniques captured via Excel, Word and email. Janela and his team had to combine all reports manually. Adding to the slog, their system required them to wait until everyone was finished before uploading a single report. With so much time spent gathering data, financials were inevitably published after they were due.

By implementing Solver’s BI360, which sits atop APhA’s existing financial management system (MS Dynamics), Janela ensures that all budget managers can enter items consistently into the user-friendly software. They can submit their reports at any time during a three-week window. The rolling submissions jumpstart the review process and give the finance staff two to three weeks of precious extra time to respond to the data.

“This year, I closed out budget submissions at 5pm on a Friday, and I started reviewing the overall budget 30 minutes later,” Janela says. “No way could I have done that before.” BroadPoint’s budgeting solution and services empowered APhA to easily track variances and generate proactive alerts. Now, APhA staff members can quickly generate high-level reports that show the true financial picture of any activity. They can also monitor numbers year-round to ensure the budget fulfills its role as a vital companion to APhA’s strategic plan.

Recognized Improvement

Janela’s team breathes easier because they now have time to fine-tune additional drafts of their budget before it goes to the Board. Their newfound efficiency earned praise from the CEO and finance committee. Still, Janela’s left with one problem: “It was easy to move from a 45-day turnaround to 15 days, but we’ll never be able to show such a dramatic improvement again!”


Conclusion

Yes, you can take the pain away from the budgeting process—and emerge with a budget you can not only live with, but love. Associations and others in the nonprofit space are following these best practices and seeing impressive results. The key is aligning your budget with your broader organizational strategy and employing the right solution to keep your entire team on track.