Financial Software/Meeting Notes for 2016-08-15

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Financial Software

Monday, 15 August 2016
Event Announcement

What kinds of financial software are appropriate for nonprofits? What does your organization use? What work is involved in supporting it?

Meeting notes


  • What financial software does your organization use?
  • How do you migrate between software?
  • What considerations do you factor in?
  • How do you support this software?


  • Upcoming meetings? Fold the group?
    • Free software for nonprofits
  • What do we want out of the group?
    • Proselytize free software? How do we get others to adopt free software?
    • What makes people use free software vs proprietary?
  • Hiring policies. Windows people are replacable?
  • Recruitment drive?

Meeting Notes

  • It was difficult to get accounting software for Linux without paying a fortune.
  • We should be concerned about financial software
    • Writing different interfaces (eg for batch jobs) is difficult
  • Sysadmins usually do not decide this software. Accountants do.
    • There are specific needs for payroll, HST, auditing
    • There is a high learning curve
  • Brendan uses SAGE because of payroll
    • Quickbooks requires a service to deal with payroll
    • Personally Brendan uses GNUCash
  • NewViews
    • hierarchical accounting that looks like a spreadsheet
    • It was made for DOS and Windows
    • It has a high learning curve
    • TWC moved from the DOS version to Windows
  • People at banks prefer correctness over efficiency
  • Brendan keeps tracks of accounts for several nonprofits
    • They were both using some ancient DOS program
    • They migrated their infrastructure to Access databases
    • They have multiple systems that have to manually reconcile things?!!!??!!?!!
  • It is possible to use TeX as an accounting system
    • With spreadsheets as input
    • Who else maintains this?
  • Why can't some Drupally solution come in and take over this space?
  • The core of financial software are:
    • Sales
    • Financial transactions
    • Different accounts
  • The non-cores:
    • Reports to funders
    • Payroll
  • (ObTopic) Is the cloud going to eat everyone's lunch?
    • Freshbooks is on all the podcasts
  • Integrating with banks is not so easy with GNUCash
    • You also have to make sure the cheques have been written correctly
  • Why can't this all be federated?
    • IIF : Intuit Interchange Format (proprietary)
    • OFX : open standard used by Microsoft Money :
  • Not an API thing?

  • Companies vary in what their expenses are and their categories?
  • In publishing:
    • There is some key information in invoices
    • People need to respond to invoices from printers
    • Different industries have come up with their own standards (EDI)
    • EDI: Electonic Data Interchange
  • Used for Business to Business transactions
    • Banks have worked out how to exhange data amongst themselves
  • Companies decide WHEN to pay invoices to maximize their cash flows
    • If you pay early then maybe you get a discount
    • Can computers help with some of these problems?
    • You favour certain relationships over others
  • Quickbooks works under Linux using WINE?

  • What people know
    • People like their Word and Excel
    • Migration costs are very high -- there has to be lots of benefit

  • There are a bunch of updates to payroll and HST
    • The software is always under development
  • Upgrade costs are very high -- once you make a choice you are kind of stuck
  • Accounting software needs to be customized to the particular needs of the organization
  • Internal formatting is different from reports
    • If internal structure is good then maybe making add-ons is feasible
  • Humans will have to input most of the transactions?
    • But there are point of sales
    • Accountants need to verify the receipts
    • Robust interfaces are important to avoid input errors
  • Can the bookkeepers use the software?
  • Does the software interface with the services (ADP) that the organization uses?
  • What are the security implications of data breaches?
    • Information leakage about things?
    • Corporate surveillance? Future products?
    • Know what your prices are?
    • Know what different employees are paid?
    • Medical/dental data
  • Maybe you can't have plugins because that has the potential of violating integrity
    • Can't proper transaction logging fix this?

  • You close books at the end of the fiscal year
    • This freezes accounts
  • Take an end of year fiscal snapshot
  • Move the summary to the new program
  • Quickbooks will let you upload your desktop information to the cloud
    • But you can't get the data back!
    • Maybe the competitors will let you upload to THEIR clouds
    • But Quickbooks does not support backwards compatibility on the desktop either

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