How Magna Vitae will use Sage 200 to build an in-house finance team

How one Lincolnshire charity is building an in-house finance team to improve visibility and drive service expansion - with Sage 200 at its core.

“We currently have a number of cumbersome financial processes, with a lot of steps,” says Magna Vitae’s Director of Finance & Business Support Services, Jonathan Hendry. “We often have to retrieve information manually when internal staff have to use our current system, Microsoft AX.”

Magna Vitae is a charity dedicated to ensuring residents of East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, live a more physically active and culturally diverse life. It runs a number of leisure facilities, a theatre and events across the county on behalf of the local authority - a service it’s looking to offer to more people in the future.

“We ultimately want to expand the reach of what we offer, and provide our services to more and more people across the county,” explains Jonathan. “Bringing our finance team in-house and implementing Sage 200, now known as Sage 200cloud, are the first steps to achieving that long-term goal.”

The bedrock for business growth

In addition to adopting the financial processes offered by Sage 200, Jonathan will structure his finance team around the functionality of Sage 200 - an opportunity afforded to him by establishing an in-house finance function.

“In a sense, I’m starting with a blank piece of paper,” Jonathan explains. “Both in terms of systems and the people who’ll be operating them. It’s giving me the chance to really optimise how we do things.”

To ensure Magna Vitae can take full advantage of that optimisation, Jonathan will focus on making sure the charity’s processes are aligned with the system prior to its implementation.

“Between now and next April, we’re going to be mapping out all of our financial processes,” he says. “We want to make sure everything is streamlined effectively. It will give us a good understanding of how we’ll operate, and provide a basis on which to staff and structure our finance team.

“In that regard, we’re confident Sage 200 will deliver our needs. It was an easy choice.”

But before selecting that bedrock, Jonathan had to assess which systems would provide a solid foundation on which to implement a new set of processes.

Selecting Sage 200

“We spoke to our external finance department to establish the issues they had with their current system and identified issues with the way we use it for purchase orders in-house," says Jonathan of Magna Vitae's system selection process.

“Putting together reports is a time-consuming task in our current system, so we wanted a solution that would enable us to spend more time analysing reports, rather than just producing them.”

From there, Jonathan assessed three business-management solutions. After a series of pre-sales demos and discussions, he opted for Sage 200, “It was also about costs and requirements. Sage 200 struck that balance perfectly for Magna Vitae.”

For Jonathan, however, costs and requirements weren’t the only factors, “We wanted a software author who was strong, stable and had longevity. We wanted somebody who will be around to support our future - attributes we absolutely saw in Sage.”

But, as with any system implementation, Magna Vitae didn’t solely look at the functionality of the system for their needs now, as the charity looks to grow in the future, “We’re looking into setting up additional trading entities in the future, in addition to the twelve cost centres we operate now," Jonathan says.

“Sage 200 will allow us to easily incorporate that expansion and seamlessly manage those multiple entities.”

Choosing the right partner - for today and tomorrow

The next step for Magna Vitae was to select a partner to support that Sage solution. Here, they applied the same criteria they applied to Sage, “We wanted our system to be supported by a reseller with similar longevity and stability as Sage itself to ensure our system receives the best support possible.”

Jonathan’s first exposure to Datel was through Connect 2017 - an event held to bring Datel customers together with UK businesses on their ERP system selection journey. For some attendees, it was the opportunity to discover how other Sage users operated their system. For others – such as Jonathan – it was a chance to see what Sage could do.

“It was great to see how much Sage has evolved over the last 10 years, which was when I last used it,” Jonathan says. “That sense of progress was definitely something reinforced by meeting other Datel customers who use Sage 200.”

Connect 2017 and a subsequent visit to Datel’s Warrington headquarters offered Jonathan the opportunity to assess the company’s culture - another one of his key concerns, “I visited Datel to get a flavour of their culture, and had the opportunity to meet with their key personnel.

"Many of their staff have been there for years, so it was easy to get a sense of the experience and expertise they had.

“We want that longevity to translate into their partnership with us, as we grow and expand our business and help more and more members of our local community.”