About Caritas Australia
Caritas Australia is the Catholic agency for international aid and development. The Latin word Caritas means love and compassion - qualities that are central to their work. They help people to help themselves, regardless of race, political beliefs, gender or religion.
Caritas Australia belongs to an international network called Caritas International is, which is one of the largest aid and development agencies in the world comprising a network of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations in over 200 countries and territories.
Caritas Australia works with their international partners in addressing the causes of poverty and bringing about long-term change. They support programs for human development and self-reliance. These include improving health, overcoming illiteracy, reducing environmental damage, conserving cultural identity and providing training for better agricultural practices.
As you would understand, any donations to Caritas would be appreciated. To donate, please visit their website: www.caritas.org.au
Challenges - Financial systems review
As a result of the enormity of the public donations received in response to the Asian Tsunami Appeal in December 2004, Caritas was prompted to review their external transparency and accountability which are the foundations of all Not for Profit organisations.
The National Council commissioned auditors to perform an IT review in 2005 and a Financial Systems review in 2006. The Council identified several issues that needed to be addressed and in line with their report, a fresh approach was taken by Caritas and they employed a Chief Financial Officer to implement the National Council's recommendations.
Financial systems recommendation
Caritas wanted to achieve process improvements that can be seen and used by a larger audience. In order to achieve the primary objectives - compliance, control and the elimination of spread sheets - Professional Advantage recommended Infor FMS SunSystems v5. This provided Caritas a platform enabling continuous business improvement and offered extensive capabilities in regards to electronic payments and remittances: electronic bank reconciliation; automated BAS integration; automated and flexible management reporting. Direct integration to external systems such as IMIS, Caritas's mission critical Donor Management system and their new payroll system Micropay were also achieved.
Solution and implementation - SUN v4 to SUN v5
Caritas worked closely with Professional Advantage to determine the new InforFMS SunSystems v5 requirements and integration points.
The key business objectives delivered by Infor FMS SunSystems v5 included:
- Improving data integrity
- Improving controls
- Providing flexibility
- Allowing for growth and change in the organisation
- Streamlining processes so that staff can focus on the value add tasks
- Reducing duplication of processes and bringing the duplicated systems into Infor FMS SunSystems
- Reducing manual entry & double handling (re- keying of data)
- Improved analysis & access to information
Caritas implemented Infor FMS SunSystems v5 General Ledger, Accounts Payable and Fixed Assets with the Vision reporting suite.
Professional Advantage integrated the iMIS Fundraising CRM via SUN Transfer Deskfor seamless data transfer. Caritas implemented the Meridian Payroll system that uses the SUN Transfer Desk for seamless data transfer.
"Infor FMS SunSystems address the foundations of all Not For Profit organisations - external transparency & accountability." Peter Carter, Financial Controller
- Increased automation of business processes (e.g. Bank Reconciliation) - reducing administrative costs and improving the systems of internal control whilst eliminating the need for manual workarounds.
- A redesigned Chart of Accounts and Analysis structure enabled Caritas to significantly improve its reporting and analysis capabilities.
- The configuration of the Infor FMS SunSystems business rules engine to ensure data integrity.
- Improved management reporting capabilities in terms of the querying of data for investigation, automated exception reporting, enhanced distribution capabilities and complete source transaction drill down capabilities.
- Direct integration between Infor FMS SunSystems and iMIS, eliminating the requirement for a manual data upload process.
Caritas have improved their external transparency and accountability which are the foundations of all Not for Profit organisations. Even a $1 donation can now be traced to specific international projects.
- Caritas will go through a period of consolidation.
- Phase 2 - Standardise the purchasing framework for Caritas and implement the iPOS web based requisition & purchasing and Workflow.
- Phase 3 - Implement the Infor FMS SunSystems Budgeting and Forecasting module.
Caritas Regulatory Environment meant that compliance & transparency were vital:
- Agency of the Catholic Church -not a Company or Incorporated Association
- Accountable to supporters and the public
- Subject to Accounting and Auditing Standards
- Member of Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) & signatory to the Code of Conduct -subject to specific reporting requirements
- Accredited by AusAid -Government supports International development via NGO program administered by AusAid