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Client Profile: Affinity NFP Receives Five Stars From Frontier College

Frontier College believes literacy is an essential skill in today’s world and a fundamental right. Built on 110 years of bringing literacy programs to Canadians, their network of 2,500 volunteers as tutors, mentors and leaders, deliver programs in partnership with over 260 partners. Frontier College helps more than 6,000 children, youth and adults in communities across the country to realize their potential and seize opportunities that come their way.

To ensure continued success for the coming years, the mandate at Frontier College was to increase its visibility across Canada as a national non-profit organization; identify a non-traditional funding stream to help generate revenue to support and expand its literacy programs; and to enable a sustainable source of funding with potential for growth.


New revenue source

The New Readers Bookstore, formerly operated by Laubach Literacy of Canada (“LLC”) for the last 25 years, was gifted as a new business to Frontier College and renamed Frontier College New Readers Bookstore. The Bookstore has a catalogue of resources on their website relating to students’ writing skills, reference books, and language writing tools for tutors, trainers, teachers and learners that can be ordered by fax or phone.

LLC had been using Sage ERP Accpac to manage the operations of the bookstore for order fulfillment, inventory control, and accounts receivable. LLC agreed to transfer portions of the master file data, such as customer and inventory records to Frontier College.

Since the accounts receivable transactions for Frontier College were minimal prior to the gifting, invoices were generated using an “off-the-shelf” small business accounting system. This presented a challenge for Frontier College, as their system could not handle the anticipated volume of transactions from the Bookstore, nor could it integrate with the Accpac system.


Running a retail operation

Frontier College had limited experience with handling ‘fee-for-services’, establishing pricing or generating inventory reports. The learning curve with the finance department and staff operating the Bookstore was going to be tremendous. They were not accounting people and were unfamiliar with order entry and inventory management processes. Frontier College had very simple accounting requirements until now, and they were only using the basics of their existing Sage ERP Accpac system.

A fixed go-live date for the New Readers Bookstore was decided and published publicly by Frontier College. The date coincided with the annual visit by the Auditors and fell in the busiest month of the year for purchases from the Bookstore. This gave the implementation team just six weeks to get the Bookstore operational and generating revenue.

Frontier College consulted with Affinity NFP, their Accpac solution provider since 2001, to determine how they could seamlessly incorporate the retail business operations and existing data necessary to run the Bookstore into their Accpac accounting system.


Address funders’ expectations

Frontier College also recognized the recent growth in the number of programs that they offered. Their funders and auditors were now expecting to see a consolidated financial statement for the organization and accurate, detailed reports on the individual activities of the programs that they supported. Frontier College was also concerned that they could be at risk of losing important grant funding if they could not demonstrate complete financial control in an audit.

“Frontier College required additional General Ledger account segments in their Sage ERP Accpac to allow them to record accounting transactions for the Bookstore and for each of their programs separately”, says Annette Balgord, principal, Affinity NFP. “This would allow them to print both a consolidated financial statement for the company and separate statements by department.”


Achieve high inventory turnover

To create a profit centre in the Bookstore, Frontier College would need to achieve a high turnover rate on inventory. The staff at Frontier College had never operated a retail store. They required assistance from Affinity NFP to set-up the financials and operations for the Bookstore in accordance with regulatory standards.


Other Affinity NFP project activities included:

  • Coordinating the legal transfer of the Accpac software licenses from LLC to Frontier College;
  • Determining a value of the ‘gifted’ Bookstore inventory for audit purposes and;
  • Composing an efficient ordering process that was simple for the staff and customers and that could be realized using Sage Accpac.

Sage ERP Accpac modules

The Inventory Control (I/C) module helped Frontier College view the Bookstore’s comprehensive inventory availability and get a detailed stock forecast, including quantity on hand, purchase orders with expected arrival dates and sales orders with expected shipping dates. This data will be an asset for planning as they prepare their budgets and forecasts. The module also allows Frontier College to boost accuracy by having the ability to delete, maintain and renumber inventory item numbers.

With the Order Entry (O/E) module, Frontier College can automatically determine available item quantities while entering orders and use customer types on orders that correspond to as many as five markup or discount price levels. They can now review sales history by customer or inventory items during order and invoice entry. Plus, they can print packing slips, order confirmations and invoices for selected orders.

The Purchase Order (P/O) module was added to automate P/O procedures, streamline the process of receiving inventory, record supplier invoices and analyze the purchases that were being made to ensure they are buying wisely.

Affinity NFP designed custom forms in Accpac for the accounting team to easily issue purchase orders, invoices and credit card receipts to customers. Manually updating the stock prices would prove to be inefficient and laborious for Frontier College. Affinity NFP assisted Frontier College with the process of automating this task to save time.

Training was provided on the new modules to ensure the team could properly maintain accurate inventory quantities and develop reports on the true value of the gifted inventory.


Foresight, project planning and succinct execution

“Our goal of having the Bookstore fully operational by our deadline allowed us to surpass our sales expectations during our busiest ordering time of the year,” says Eric Plato, Director of Finance, Frontier College.

“Because of Affinity NFP’s foresight, project planning and succinct execution, we were able to start with book sales immediately, leading to a very successful first month. Even though some of our key staff running the Bookstore and accounting were unavailable for the initial training, Affinity NFP was flexible enough to accommodate everyone’s schedule in preparation of the launch,” says Plato.

As required for their forthcoming audit, Frontier College was able to provide a detailed audit trail, including all the information the auditor’s were expecting to see.

With the seamless integration of the Frontier College New Readers Bookstore into their Accpac system, Frontier College is focusing its efforts on growing profits from this sustainable source of funding to reinvest back into their literacy programs.

Frontier College is proceeding with implementing additional Sage Accpac compatible modules to transition the Bookstore into a fully integrated web store with credit card processing and automated order system.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

CSAE Trillium Chapter 3rd Annual Winter Summit - Marriott Gateway on the Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario
February 7-8, 2013

AUDC 2013 Avectra Users & Developers Conference - Disney's Contemporary Resort, Orlando, Florida
March 3-5, 2013

Information Technology Alliance Spring Collaborative - Vinoy Renaissance, St. Petersburg, Florida
April 28-30, 2013

CAEP 2013 Annual Conference - The Westin Bayshore Hotel, Vancouver, BC
June 1-5, 2013

"Flexibility within a software solution means customization, and the prospect of a complicated installation procedure coupled with a lengthy implementation process seemed daunting. However, my concerns were quickly dispelled after contacting Affinity NFP and speaking with Annette who clearly understood our requirements, and whose professionalism was reflected in every interaction with her staff."

St. Michael's Choir School
Client since 2009