Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) is a charity dedicated to funding and improving research into dementia in the UK. The charity survives principally through donations and 76p of every £1 goes towards research programmes.
As the nation’s leading dementia charity, their vision is to help create a world where people are free from the fear and harm of dementia.
So, Alzheimer’s Research UK’s mission is to bring about the first life-changing dementia treatment by 2025 by challenging the way people think about the condition, empowering the best thinkers in the field and funding the science that can deliver a cure.
Alzheimer’s Research UK wanted to improve their business efficiency across the board. Their old finance software was letting them down in various ways.
No capability to use the software on the go
For starters, their old finance software wasn’t transportable. If it was used off site, it operated too slowly for employees to use it effectively. This meant everyone had to be on site to use the software.
Made the manual reconciliation process time consuming
Then there were inefficiencies caused by the manual process of reconciliation between Grant Tracker and the old finance software. The bimonthly task was taking the charity an hour - something they desperately wanted to speed up and boost productivity.
Reporting was challenging
Reporting was a clunky process too, largely because of issues related to data access. Plus, there was no capacity to access the software when users were out of the office. There was very limited capability for reports writing which was holding productivity back, especially as the report requirements for a charity are complex.
It was clear that Alzheimer’s Research UK needed to replace the existing financial software to boost efficiencies,
benefit from cost savings and provide a platform for growth.
Alzheimer’s Research UK evaluated various technological options. They wanted a new powerful solution that met the following requirements:
- A scalable, flexible solution that can adapt and grow in line with the charity
- An integrated solution that can address the needs of the organisation and reduce IT system maintenance
- Enhanced reporting, including better visibility of data and the ability to use real-time data to make business decisions
- Automated processes to reduce manual input and potential for errors
- PO approvals (once managed manually) to be automated using the Microsoft Power Platform
- A secure Microsoft supported platform with a long-term product roadmap
- An experienced partner able to recommend best implementation approach to mitigate risk
The Columbus team recommended Alzheimer’s Research UK combine the ERP system with Jet Reports and Power BI. We were able to move quickly, sticking to the charity’s timescales, and they’re now using Jet reports with some powerful, tailored reports to suit their unique requirements.
We continue to work with Alzheimer’s Research UK to enhance integrations and reporting for the future.
- Huge time savings especially for manual tasks - for example, the grant reconciliation process is now 3X faster - it takes 20 minutes twice a month rather than an hour
- Business Central has been able to deal with partial VAT exemptions, which was not possible with the charity’s
previous finance software. This has led to time savings of up to two thirds over the old processes
- Reporting has been massively improved. The charity has created and can now access some highly detailed reports that have been tailored around their complex requirements - all at the touch of a button
- The charity has followed a cloud-first policy, which has provided enhanced data security, business continuity and a mobile solution that has been invaluable in providing remote access to staff to continue working in all circumstances
- The existing Grant Tracking software now integrates seamlessly with Business Central
- Integrating Business Central with the funding system, Raisers Edge. Income postings are currently manual so
this integration should boost productivity.
"Columbus were great because they were able to implement a Microsoft Business Central solution for Alzheimer’s Research UK that was delivered on time and budget which offers flexibility for working and has cut manual processes by two thirds", said Lynnette Gray, Head of Finance at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Why it was important to transition to the cloud
By transitioning from an on-premise infrastructure to the cloud, with Dynamics 365 Business Central, Alzheimer’s Research UK could benefit from:
- Enhanced data security
- Better remote and mobile access to the system
- Business continuity through regular updates and no costly upgrades
- Move to predictable monthly operational cost
- Reduced internal infrastructure costs and IT management time
Working with Columbus
Switching the legacy system out for the cloud-based Business Central has made a huge difference to productivity and efficiency for Alzheimer’s Research UK. The charity was initially concerned with the implementation timescales and whether they could stick to these on their side in order to be able to deliver them internally.
So, Columbus made sure to form a close partnership with Alzheimer’s Research UK’s finance team, especially with their Head of Finance, to identify goals, decide on the scope of the integrations and enable the project to be delivered to the set timescales.
Ultimately, the Columbus team hit all of the requirements Alzheimer’s Research UK originally identified. And most importantly, this helped ensure the charity’s business continuity throughout any unpredictable crisis.