Founded in 1978, the Louisiana Advocacy Center provides protection and advocacy for persons with mental or physical disabilities, as well as nursing home residents. Through legal representation, outreach and training, the 60-person non-profit agency delivers critical support to many of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, including first response in times of crisis.
To fulfill its mission, the Advocacy Center depends heavily on financial and business information processes, including, grant management, fundraising recording, job tracking, purchasing, and accounting. In August of 2005, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina exposed an alarming weakness in the Advocacy Center’s on-premise IT model—mission-critical information was locked in desktop spreadsheets and an in-house server at headquarters, threatening to disrupt service delivery when it was needed most.
Post-Katrina, the Advocacy Center knew it needed to abandon its on-premise IT model and move to the cloud so that information would be available anytime, anywhere over the Internet. The organization found the ideal solution through a donation from NetSuite.org, the Corporate Citizenship arm of NetSuite. NetSuite.org provides donations and discounts of the NetSuite business management suite to qualified non-profit and social enterprise organizations. Additionally, NetSuite.org runs a pro bono program between the company’s employees and the grantee organizations.
“Knowing that we can continue to operate in the cloud given any type of disaster—that’s huge,” said John Felt, Advocacy Center CIO. “We are guaranteed to be there when our clients need us the most.”
With help from NetSuite.org, the Advocacy Center implemented NetSuite to replace spreadsheets and Microsoft Dynamics GP (Great Plains); running accounting, payables and receivables, grant and donor management, time and expenses, and more. Besides virtually eliminating disaster-related risks to information access, the agency began realizing immense gains in visibility, productivity and cost-efficiency once the implementation was completed.
“We had this monstrous hybrid of Great Plains and Excel that was just a nightmare,” Felt said. “It could take a week of intense labor just to produce a report, whereas now we can do it at the press of a button. The accounting team loves the ease of reporting in NetSuite—it’s enabled them to do more planning and be more proactive.”
With timely, accurate information available on demand, the Advocacy Center is better able to manage budget vs. actuals and make adjustments as needed. This allows the organization to have up to the minute visibility into their budget data, and focus more time on its core mission. This has taken burdens off of employees--for example, one employee who was previously dedicated to manually tabulating time entries for 60 employees has been repurposed to a new and more valuable role. The organization’s small IT team is now able to focus on innovations to improve service delivery, rather than maintaining on-premise systems.
Felt says the Advocacy Center is grateful to NetSuite’s commitment to helping non-profits achieve their community-oriented missions.
If you’d like to find out about receiving a NetSuite donation, please apply online today. Learn more about our corporate citizenship program at www.NetSuite.org, and direct questions to me on twitter @NetSuiteorg.