For profit, or not for profit, that is the question

The writing of Shakespeare has posed many philosophical questions. If he had been at all interested in writing a play about the dramatic world of business management software, we’d like to think that he’d have come up with the title of this blog. Or possibly not.

So, can ERP benefit not-for-profit organisations as well as for-profit businesses?

The simple answer is yes but let’s go into a bit more detail.

ERP is such stuff as dreams are made on

If we look back at the history of ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Software, you may already know that it was developed in the 1970s to manage processes in the manufacturing industry. Known as MRP back then, it then became known as ERP and evolved into a system that supports any number of industry sectors.

At first, you might think that ‘not-for-profit’ (NFP) organisations would have no need for the type of functionality that is on offer from an ERP solution. In reality, NFPs can hugely benefit from using ERP to effectively utilise and bring together resources such as people, processes, assets, knowledge and technology.

This above all: to thine own organisation be true

By doing this you will allow the right people to have access to the right technology. Technology which holds the most relevant information to help them make insightful decisions and maximise an organisation’s high level of performance.

Now NFPs are not going to need the sort of complexity from their ERP that a manufacturer or wholesaler will need but they do have some very similar processes, such as paying staff as well as buying and paying for goods & services.


Alas poor charities, we know them well


Most ERP solutions have the capability of being configured to meet the unique needs of NFPs. This is especially true of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. In fact, a selection of Microsoft partners have specific experience in the implementation and support of software solutions for NFPs. This combination of system and support can benefit NFPs with operational and organisational improvements.

NFPs differ from a normal commercial businesses in the way it manages its accounts. For-profit companies aim to maximise profits, passing them on to the owners of the business. NFPs have no owners and simply aim to make sure that their revenue is greater than their costs.

An ERP vendor with specific knowledge of NFPs and the third sector will be able to use their expertise to offer help and support.

The course of true efficiency never did run smooth (but it could!)



 NFPs and third sector organisations, which can include museums & galleries and charities and trusts, usually have a set of specific financial and accounting needs. These can include producing fund accounts, track donations, grants management, manage spend and allocations with a fully compliant audit-trails.


What every NFP ultimately wants to know is where the funds are coming from and how much funding they have. By adopting an ERP from Microsoft, heads of departments, management and directors will get insightful information that will allow them to make the right decisions.

Some of the ways that NFPs can benefit from Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP include:

  • Reduced inconsistencies in financial accounting data
  • Better collaboration between departments through integration
  • More accurate forecasting for campaigns and events with budget management functionality
  • Sophisticated reporting that’s fully compliant with SOFA and SORP rules
  • Effective allocation and analysis of project spend and a better understanding of available balance
  • Management of all fundraising opportunities and tracking progress
  • Streamlined processes across the company through a single data-entry point
  • Centralised source of information

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ERP

If you work for a not-for-profit organisation, you may find that most of your time is spent on finding and extracting information from your system. You could be using this intelligence to plan the future direction of the organisation. If you start to look at the possibility of replacing your finance software, these issues could be resolved.

Give us a call and we can help you get the system you need from a Microsoft partner that understands the way your organisation operates.

In the words of the great Bard himself, “Ye had better speak to ERP Central forthwith”.*

*we have no evidence to confirm that Mr Shakespeare actually said this

Article written by Mark Blackmore, Head of Direct Marketing QBS Group

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