Buckner International - Case Study
Non-profit chooses Board for international financial management
Dallas, TX, USA
Buckner International is a global ministry dedicated to the transformation and restoration of the lives of individuals and families at all stages of life. The company started in Texas in 1879 and continues to flourish there today with headquarters in Dallas, as well as at international locations in Latin America and Kenya. Buckner focuses on three realms of restoration: family preservation, family permanency, and retirement services.
As Buckner opened more locations abroad, the team in Texas felt the impact of manually managing the international financial systems. The Finance and Operations teams relied on separate systems, including QuickBooks and Excel, to reconcile high-level information about income statements and balance sheets coming from the Latin American and Kenyan office locations. These financial reports contained detailed information in local currencies about how the international locations utilized funds sent from the Texas office.
It became apparent that managing different ledger systems across the company was not efficient, so to make processes faster and more consistent Buckner decided to streamline the international business systems with US operations. This kicked off a search for a software platform that could unify all the general ledgers with the Dallas system, thereby providing increased financial transparency and control internationally. Board, which was among the 20+ different accounting and analytics systems that Buckner evaluated, was selected because it talks to the existing general ledger systems, provides the exact drill down capabilities needed, has an easy to use database, and can integrate with other systems, which reduces the need for training. Buckner did not have to endure the painful transition of installing and training all the international offices on a new accounting system. Each office can use a general ledger system that fits in with the local context while Board extracts and consolidates the data that is needed.
Board’s custom-built budgeting module enables Buckner to get all the international spending detail it needs in a more streamlined way. Instead of having to manually combine and translate six different budgets, staff in Latin America and Kenya can submit budgets over to the US team in a uniform way that speeds up the analysis and decision-making process. The platform’s automations also allow data transfers to run in the background at convenient, scheduled times.
“With Board, I am connected to the data in real-time,” said Chris Cato, Director of Operational Excellence and Performance. “The system syncs with our international general ledgers every day, at 1AM, and pulls the financial data into our database in the US. This creates alignment across all company charts of accounts and converts the aggregated data in my view into USD. Being able to see what is happening financially inside each country’s office has exponentially increased our ability to understand and make decisions.”
After Buckner saw the benefits of using Board for international financial management, it decided to integrate it with its case management system, which evaluates the effectiveness of company programs. The team moved from manually updating Excel spreadsheets to interacting with an automated dashboard that displays key metrics on such things as lives impacted, and foster care and adoption placements.
Buckner International not only improved the ease and process of managing company-wide financial data, but also reduced the amount of time spent performing manual actions, all using Board. Given the amount of time Buckner spent manually reconciling data and converting currencies into USD, the team used to close its international books toward the end of the month for the month prior. This put the team at 45 days or more past the time when the transactions actually occurred. The ability to drill down into transactional level detail in different languages and currencies provides real-time data accuracy.
Chris visited the Buckner office in Guatemala and did some Board training with the accounting team there. During a walkthrough of the reporting capabilities, he demonstrated how quickly, and with few clicks, he could generate a complete report. The group was pleasantly shocked at how easy it was for Chris to produce a report in five seconds that would historically take two days of work.