The New England Aquarium, located in Boston, hosts 1.3 million visitors every year. In addition, it provides marine animal rescue and research; it develops and provide educational resources for teachers, students and the general public; and led the charge in the conservation of the Phoenix Islands, one of the world’s largest marine protected areas, to name just a few of its many programs. “We’re a lot more than just a giant fish tank,” notes Director of Accounting Services Tricia Wong.
When Wong came to work for the New England Aquarium they were using a legacy DOS-based system that was requiring excessive amounts of manual reporting, “I knew there was a better way to do things,” states Wong, a veteran of numerous accounting software system implementations. “We began our search and were open to viewing a variety of solutions. However, we were adamant that the solution not require customizations.”
At any given time, New England Aquarium is managing 75 to 100 grants. “The lengths of the grants vary dramatically. Some of the grants are awarded for a 5 year project, others are 3 months in duration, and everything in between,” notes Wong, “In the past, we would close out the month in arrears and then it might be another 30 days before we were paid. Those days are gone now that we are using Sage MIP Fund Accounting. We generate our bills in Sage MIP Fund Accounting during the closing process. No more manual invoicing in Excel. Sage MIP Fund Accounting has made us operate much more efficiently. We can now close the month in 5 business days, where with the old software is was double the time.”
Another efficiency New England Aquarium enjoys is in the area of allocations. “The process was painful,” recalls Wong. “It would take hours and hours just to run the various reports and even more time making adjustments. Using Sage MIP Fund Accounting, I can complete the entire process in a half hour. We love the software and would recommend it highly.”
Wong was impressed with the team from JMT Consulting Group, “We met with many different people from JMT,” Wong remembers. “We stated that we were not interested in any customization and Jacki (Jacqueline M. Tiso, President and Founder of JMT) and her team patiently sat with us and showed us, using the software, how each process worked.”
Wong cautions other nonprofit organizations to be wary of purchasing any system that will require customizations, “The problem is that the customizations that you pay a high price for may very likely be rendered worthless with the next upgrade of the core software. With customizations, you must either be forced to live with old version software, or pay to have the customization updated every time the software has a new release. And for nonprofits, there is really no need for it. Sage MIP Fund Accounting can do what nonprofits need it to do. I can’t imagine using anything else.”