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Client Profile: Affinity NFP Paves the Road to Success for Pathways to Independence

Pathways to Independence (Pathways) supports individuals with developmental challenges and acquired brain injuries through residential options, day programs, and vocational programs in communities throughout Southeastern Ontario. The organization’s 320+ employees serve hundreds of clients, helping them to recognize their potential and live with dignity and self-empowerment. Pathways has relied on Sage Accpac ERP for more than a decade to meet its financial and accounting requirements. Recently, when faced with new reporting mandates from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC), Pathways turned to its business partner Affinity NFP for assistance in achieving compliance efficiently.


Face Complexities

As a nonprofit agency service serving those with disabilities, Pathways must comply with the recently adopted Ontario Mental Health Reporting System (OMHRS) and Ontario Healthcare Reporting System (OHRS), intended to allow MOHLTC to better monitor and account for the funding it allocates. “About ten percent of our operating budget comes from the Ministry of Health,” explains Tom Burns, director of corporate services. “In return for that funding, they require a very detailed, specific accounting of how the funds are used.”

For most organizations, meeting the new reporting requirements requires a fundamental change to their systems. “There is a standard chart of accounts all agencies must use; that requires change at the core level of each organization’s accounting system,” notes Burns.

To ease the compliance burden on affected organizations, the Ministry of Health offered a free general ledger program that mapped the program’s accounts to the reporting standards. “The problem was, it wasn’t really free,” explains Burns. “We have a significant investment in our existing Sage Accpac solution that goes far beyond the purchase price of a general ledger module. We use several other modules, for example, that we would have had to purchase, plus there is the cost of staff retraining and data conversion to consider.”


Adapt To Change

Rather than switch from Sage Accpac, Pathways initially met its reporting requirements with a complex series of spreadsheets — which quickly became onerous. “It was tremendously time consuming, plus we were concerned about maintaining the spreadsheets’ accuracy, because each time a number was updated in our accounting software, we would need to update one or more spreadsheets,” says Burns. “It was an issue requiring a solution—and quickly.”

Pathways turned to Affinity NFP for advice and received very good news. Using the inherent functionality in Sage Accpac, Pathways could meet its reporting requirements while still retaining its existing account structure. Using Optional Fields, Affinity NFP set up alias account numbers for each general ledger account number that would be included in the Ministry’s reports.

With the alias account numbers in place, Affinity NFP created new reports and export files that enable the organization to meet the Ministry’s requirements. It is a straightforward solution to a complex issue.

The time and effort savings has been extraordinary, reports Burns. “We are saving a week’s time every quarter. We are faced with a deadline every quarter, and the push to make that deadline caused a lot of stress. Now we have no trouble meeting the deadline.”


Boost Visibility and Accountability

Affinity NFP also showed Pathways how to take advantage of a key feature in Sage Accpac that allows for account segmentation. Using segments to represent both funding source and program, Pathways is able to roll up expenses based on either attribute.

This change allows Burns to give the organizations’ program managers detailed reports about their programs. It also aids in budgeting and increases accountability throughout the organization. “Before we could only provide the breakdown by program, not by funding source,” Burns explains. “Now we can provide our managers with the detail they need and still produce the reports we need to share with our funding agencies.”

The organization uses the Orchid Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Processing module for Sage Accpac. Using EFT has allowed Pathways to reduce the number of accounts payable cheques it prints by 45 percent — saving paper, staff time, and postage costs.


A Winning Combination

“The real credit for this project’s success goes to Affinity NFP. Their professionalism and talent made the difference. I don’t think we could find a better partner,” says Burns.

“Staying with Sage Accpac was the best decision we could have made — it was far less costly than switching to the ‘free’ system,” he concludes. “And Sage Accpac offers us so much more than reporting compliance.”

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

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"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