OCA implements new financial accounting software systems

The Orthodox Church in America is pleased to announce that, as of May 1, 2007, a new fiscally responsible financial accounting system has been implemented in the OCA Chancery offices here.

This new system replaces an old system that had been in use for over 18 years and that had become not only obsolete, but incapable of keeping up with the evolving and more demanding requirements of not-for-profit [NPO] financial accounting and “Best Practices” standards.

The financial accounting system, called “The Financial Edge,” was developed by Blackbaud [www.blackbaud.com], a world leader in financial accounting software for NPOs. “The Financial Edge” is a sophisticated system that will allow the OCA to realize the highest levels of fiscal transparency, integrity, and accountability. Its in-depth budgeting and cost monitoring features will enable the Church’s department administrators and financial officers the ability to monitor and evaluate the performance of every department, initiative, and appeal in real-time. When fully developed, reports that used to take days to produce will be produced in seconds.

“The Financial Edge” will enable the treasurer to produce quarterly reports within a few days of the closing of each quarter, enabling them to be posted on the OCA website in a timely manner. The system embodies the latest technological security features, giving controlled access to authorized individuals to specific areas of the system.

As one such example, the Financial Committee of the Metropolitan Council will be provided access to specific monthly reports, as designed by them for their ongoing oversight, by which they can review and take management actions as deemed necessary by them, concerning the finances of the Church. They will not be able to enter, edit, or make any changes to the previously entered data from the Church’s financial operations.

The demand for a new accounting system began in 2006, when it became apparent to the members of the Metropolitan Council that the existing financial accounting system could no longer be relied on to produce financial documents and audit trails of integrity that could pass a yearly audit. Accordingly, the Metropolitan Council created the Finance Committee, headed by the Very Rev. Matthew Tate, to begin the process of creating a new direction for the Chancery’s financial processes. By December 2006, broad parameters for this new system had been laid out and a search for a viable software application undertaken. After a review process of available non-profit financial software, including consultation with non-profit organizations, it was decided to engage Blackbaud as the software vendor of choice.

The project of implementing the Blackbaud application was given to the Rev. Jonathan Ivanoff, who came to Syosset five years ago with over 25 years of experience in software consulting, training, and account management. It was recently noted that Father Jonathan has assumed the position of Director of Information Technologies and will lead a sustained effort going forward to bring to the Church the benefits of information technologies that have progressed so rapidly in the last decade, offering increased productivity and improved communications to organizations of all types.

Among the new system’s highlights are the following.

  • The new financial accounting system now has all of the data for 2006 and the first quarter of 2007 loaded. In summer 2007, financial data going back to 1987 will be loaded, so that the Chancery will be able to access historical financial data as well as current data in a consistent manner.
  • All current vendors have been identified, and we are now able to begin entering invoices and producing checks to pay those invoices.
  • A new chart of accounts has been created, and accounts from the old financial system have been mapped against this.
  • A ‘Dashboard’ feature allows department and ministry leaders (as well as, for example, members of the Metropolitan Finance Committee), to remotely monitor real time accounting and budget information through charts, graphs, and informative customized tables.
  • Blackbaud features several sophisticated levels of security that will ensure the fiscal stability and integrity of the Chancery’s financial database from unwarranted intrusion and change. All financial transactions are time- and user-stamped. Any changes to any kind of accounting information are instantly and immediately recorded as part of “The Financial Edge’s” audit trail.
  • There will be very little chance of receipts being lost in the future as “The Financial Edge” records receipts in electronic format in order for certain payments and financial recordings to be made.
  • “The Financial Edge” has an amazing depth of reporting allowing authorized Chancery personnel to produce financial reports such as balance sheets, income statements, financial position statements, and many other reports with a wide variety of formatting options at the touch of a button.

In summer 2007, “The Financial Edge” will be completely integrated with Blackbaud’s “The Raiser’s Edge,” a complementary system for fundraising and financial development. A future news release will highlight the features and benefits of this system, which will also replace the older, more cumbersome systems currently in place.

With continued training and the normally expected learning curve proficiency that comes when employees transition to new systems the first of our new financial reports will soon be made available on our OCA website in accordance with the guidance received from Father Matthew Tate and the Financial Committee of the Metropolitan Council that he chairs. It is expected that financial statements for the first quarter of 2007 will be posted on the OCA website by May 25, 2007.