When Brian Kabaker, chief financial officer of the HeartMath Institute, sat down to map out the nonprofit’s information systems, what he saw was “the proverbial spaghetti,” he recently recalled.
He saw a FoxPro CRM system that couldn’t communicate with an outsourced web store or an old MS 90 system for financial management. It could take up to a month to get customer records updated and any order that came in required the staff to print out any and fax it to be fulfilled. When the Boulder Creek, Calif.-based nonprofit began exploring a new financial system to help further its mission of partnering with schools, social-service agencies and others to help people lower stress and build resilience, Kabaker initially suspected he’d need to bring in outside developers and consultants to build a custom product. Instead, he found NetSuite.
“We have a term here, coherence, it means everything working together – mind and body the physical heart and the emotional heart. It provides a cascade of beneficial health effects, positive hormones, access to higher brain centers, the higher functioning aspects of the brain,” Kabaker said. “The coherent state was something we were lacking in our business systems.”
The HeartMath Institute ripped out those old systems and replaced them with NetSuite, which provides CRM, financials and ecommerce for the organization. It has spared the organization the expense of a full-time IT staffer and saved the equivalent of a full-time position in streamlining the ordering process.
The HeartMath Institute provided more than 1 million services last year, spanning workshops, webinars, training and research. Central to accomplishing and monitoring all those services is the customization of the underlying platform. The HeartMath Institute made ample use of NetSuite’s customization features to create custom fields in the CRM application to help the organization track a client of the research, a donors, or members, or some combination of the three, and how they signed up.
“There’s nothing we needed functionality-wise, we couldn’t get,” Kabaker said. “If NetSuite didn’t have it, they might add it the next upgrade or we could get a developer to create the customization or find one that already did it.”
In addition, the HeartMath Institute discovered that, as a nonprofit, it was eligible for free and discounted licenses from NetSuite.org, the company’s corporate citizenship arm, as well as free pro bono services from NetSuite employees through the SuiteVolunteers program.
“That helped us so much. We can’t say enough about that,” Kabaker said.” It was a huge boost for us.”