The Trinitarian Bible Society’s (TBS) mission is to faithfully translate the Bible into as many languages as possible and distribute as many Bibles as possible around the world. With five overseas branches, including the US, Australia, Canada, along with the UK HQ, the charity was looking to modernise its finance function and create efficiencies that would support their ambitious mission.
Top business challenges:
- Funding: providing clear financial proof to funders through effective reporting
- Stock levels: balancing the efficiencies of scale gained from large-scale ordering, with not holding too much stock and thus tying up cashflow
- Translation: finding the right translators who can faithfully translate from the original languages (Greek and Hebrew) into the receptor languages, particularly where they are not widely spoken
The finance challenge: TBS were using a finance software that was no longer fit for purpose. Project costing was unavailable, and reporting and accounting analysis was ineffective: “it couldn’t export to Excel, it was like we were a business in the 1980s,” added David Broome, Resources Director at TBS.
How did this impact TBS? “Our financial reporting was high maintenance, requiring lots of staff. It was simplistic, unable to export the data we needed.” Beyond missing out on key data and insights, this lack of tangible information was crucial for writing funding bids. “Funders are asking us to prove where we’re spending our money, so being able to report on this will greatly help us with these funding bids.”
Getting ready for change
David began by explaining that TBS had already implemented a new integral CRM/business system and website called YM (Your Membership). “The next step was a state-of-the-art finance system.” The team involved in researching and choosing a new system included three employees across Finance and IT.
“We did lots of internet research, we looked in the Charity Finance Magazine, and spoke to Adapta Consulting who gave us a great list of finance systems to look into. We spent about 6 months researching before going to market. In the end, we filtered it down to 4, including Xledger.”
“We wanted a system that did multiple dimensions properly, cost centre analysis, better financial management, and fund accounting. We weren’t driven by time or budget; we just wanted the right system.” David explained. At the outset, there was a detailed list of ambitious aspirations:
- To standardise and streamline accounting processes in the UK HQ and across branches to increase efficiency and reduce key-man risk
- To automate the worldwide accounts consolidation
- To eliminate the manual interface with YM by an automated interface to bring data financial data for sales, donations and grants
- To automate expenses handling for staff and trustees
- To improve stock management
- To improve fund and project accounting and reporting
- To improve financial management information
- To reduce dependence on non-hosted IT
The Xledger Experience
What were TBS’s reasons for choosing Xledger?
- Direct relationship with Xledger consultants and wider team
- Local and UK based
- Team’s understanding of charity fund accounting
- Excellent customer support
As well as being a local and UK-based company, David explained that the ability to have direct contact with Xledger employees at all stages of the process, from sales to consultants, solutions and support, was a real bonus for TBS. “All the other finance software providers that we considered were through re-sellers, so you don’t actually implement with the company, which felt more like buying something like Microsoft Office.”
David was reassured that TBS would be in safe hands with an experienced and helpful team: “Your understanding of charity fund accounting really impressed us, plus your customers clearly rated the customer support experience.”
David was “looking for a true cloud system”. Xledger stood out by providing the following benefits:
- “Flexibility of the system, ease of reporting across various dimensions. These reporting capabilities really impressed us early on.”
- “Real-time consolidation, being able to have immediate updates, compared to other finance systems that required a process to be run. Those others didn’t feel properly integrated between entities.”
- “More clarity and better understanding of your pricing model.”
Starting the Process
“We initiated contact with the four shortlisted suppliers, and you all came out to do a demo. Xledger visited us twice. First to get to know us, understand our requirements and find out about our ambitions behind changing our system. Then came the demonstration which really showed your understanding of us and your expertise in helping us transform. We were very specific with what we wanted, and Xledger were very professional, you did what we asked for.”
TBS began with Phase one in April 2020: creating the Xledger system to manage their UK activities. “We were very impressed with your Consultant and Project Manager, working alongside each other. Although it required some hard work, it ran very smoothly indeed and it was implemented in October 2020.”
After Phase one was implemented, TBS began Phase two in May 2021, implementing the US, Australia and Canadian branches in October 2021. “Xledger is a sophisticated piece of software. Once you’ve learnt how it works, you can easily use different aspects of the system – it works consistently throughout.”
David continued by describing the support provided after implementation: “There was lots of flexibility in Hypercare, we had extensive consultation sessions. I have the highest regard for the team.”
How would you describe your overall experience with Xledger?
Product: powerful, flexible, the reporting is fantastic, it does what it says on the tin.
People: very friendly bunch that have a can-do attitude. I haven’t encountered anyone yet that isn’t friendly, helpful and positive.
Would you recommend Xledger to peers and why?
“I would be happy to recommend Xledger to anyone; if you can put the time investment in, then the rewards are significant.”
TBS began their journey with Xledger in 2020. We asked David to shine a light on what has happened since beginning to use their new true cloud software.
“We have implemented timesheets (one of TBS’ original requirements), which allows us to drill down into time spent and cost across activities and projects. All of our London team are using the system, some just for timesheets, others for purchases order and expenditure approvals, as well as us in the finance team using it much more extensively. We’re also using it globally, in our US, Canada and Australia branches.”
Did Xledger’s solution meet your expectations?
With a very detailed and specific list of requirements prior to choosing a provider, David was keen to emphasise that expectations were very high at the start of the process. “Xledger has – or will very soon – ticked all of our boxes, which is pretty impressive. We’re not surprised, but of course, pleased!”
We are now in the position to collect information that will allow us to report in the future. The time saving benefits are coming in, and we also recently completed our worldwide financial statements for the first time using Xledger.”
Xledger consultancy can continue long after project close if desired: “We came to your offices recently and spent a day discussing how we could get more out of the system, be more efficient and use more of its capabilities. Our CEO is very keen to start looking into all these future benefits.”
Relating to one of the business’ key challenges – funding – David emphasised: “Xledger will help us going forward to explain financial figures to funders; much better than the rough estimates we were using.”
What advice would you offer to anyone else changing systems / considering Xledger?
“Be absolutely clear with what you want and test a range of products against that. With Xledger, it’s a very powerful (and complex) system. You have to know that you need it; and be prepared to implement properly. It’s not something you just buy, ‘off the shelf’. It’s a sophisticated system that is configured around your needs. I’ve happily recommended it to others.”
As David concluded, the journey of reaping benefits has begun and will only grow. With a newfound ability to have confidence in their numbers, they will be able to present accurate reports for funders, as well as for management and financial reporting. We look forward to seeing the Trinitarian Bible Society grow and further their mission worldwide.