Greentree partner solves charity’s concerns

itHeader2Hoge 100 showed Concern Universal some new ideas – and learned a few itself…

Concern Universal needed real time visibility of its aid projects across the globe, and easier management of donor funds across multiple currencies. They turned to Greentree’s integrated financial management, job costing and CRM to keep CU’s staff up to date, wherever they may be. As a result, donor accountability is more responsive, administration time and costs are slashed, and currency changes are handled easily.

Viv Mair is the Systems & Services Co-ordinator for UK-based global charity Concern Universal. Its mission is improving the lives of millions of people living in poverty across Africa, South America and the Asian sub-continent: “We’re an international charity operating in a decentralised culture. This was probably the biggest challenge in getting our new ERP system up and running. Getting the right set-up has ensured that the system is fit for purpose from every angle.”

To streamline its processes, improve funding accountability and cope with increasing demand for its services, Concern Universal needed a serious business system. Greentree Partner Hoge 100 was charged with the implementation, which presented some special challenges.

According to Viv Mair, Greentree introduced a new way of thinking for Concern Universal, but it also challenged Hoge 100 to rethink how Greentree’s capabilities could be most effectively applied: “Greentree was a completely new system to us and we are still constantly learning about its capabilities,” she says, “but I also believe that Hoge 100 was introduced to aspects of the system and process thinking that they had not experienced before.”

Concern Universal has been bringing opportunity to people in poor and isolated parts of the world since 1976.

“We work to promote justice, dignity and respect for all,” explains Chief Operating Officer, Matthew Lake. “We try to ensure that people can make a decent living; that they have access to clean water and sanitation; and that they have access to the rights and government services to which they’re entitled, such as health care and education.”

Concern Universal is contracted by large institutions including the UK and US Governments and the European Union. It has to manage complex reporting requirements, detailed budget management and multiple currency transactions.

“It’s difficult to track live project information in remote regions due to our complex reporting processes,” says Viv.  “The time it took to enter information manually and submit it to various formats to multiple systems means field staff spent lots of time at their desk, when it could be spent out on the ground, helping people.”

Concern Universal needed a Cloud-based system to keep infrastructure costs low, with integrated financial management, job costing and customer relationship management essential to its operation. Its field offices tend to be located in remote areas, so a Cloud-based system also allows access from smart phones and tablets using 3G. It means project managers can easily update financial and project data when they can get online.

All these special needs had the makings of a real “rollercoaster ride”, in Viv’s words. Hoge 100 drew on its vast experience with business systems, to meet those needs and stay within budget.

“Because we absolutely have to maintain low overheads, the challenge of available resources had a critical impact on the timeliness of the project,” she says. “Hoge 100 supports us heavily by being available to help us work through issues on a regular basis. Their flexibility in this helped ease this pressure.”

Concern Universal can now meet expected growth in demand for its services by being one of the most responsive international development charities. Its head office in the UK has its finger on the pulse of all its projects worldwide. Donor reporting and project tracking has been made quicker and easier, while Greentree’s multi-currency facility greatly simplifies the conversion process. What’s more, with all its data in one system, Concern Universal can get out of the office and into the field, where they are needed most.

“We take huge pride in knowing that our work is efficient, effective and sustainable,” Viv says. “It used to be time-consuming for us to capture, track and monitor data – now we can provide an even better service to our supporters.”

Greentree’s customers never stand still and nor do its Partners. Hoge 100 is developing capabilities in Concern Universal’s Greentree system that may benefit other international charities, where raising and transferring of funds is especially important.

“Hoge 100 has challenged Concern Universal’s established systems and processes to help make them more efficient and streamlined,” Viv concludes. “We have a strong relationship with the Hoge 100 team. We really appreciate all the work they have done to ensure the successful implementation of the Greentree software, and look forward to working together to further develop the system and its effectiveness.”

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