An unwelcome legacy

Michael D'souza was appointed Chief Financial Officer at the National Trust of Australia (WA) in early 2019.

"One of my first tasks was to review our three existing business systems,” he says. “Our legacy on-premises ERP, records management system, and membership database were all outdated and had no ongoing support. The organisation ran slowly because staff, especially the finance team, were limited by old technology and our reliance on paper-based processes."

Reporting was also a challenge for the National Trust, making it overly time-consuming to meet exacting government compliance requirements.

New system selection

D'souza used his 30 years of experience in finance, business, and ICT to create a compelling business case for the National Trust. He recommended a single, cloud-based solution, consolidating the functions the National Trust relied on and eliminating the burden of further physical infrastructure investment.

"We have an Asset Management division for the nearly hundred million dollars' worth of properties we own and rent out, a Community Engagement and Marketing division, and Corporate Services which runs our organisational Finance, IT, Administration and HR," says D’Souza. “We needed a functionality-rich finance system with a CRM to operate all three smoothly.”

"Needing an integrated CRM eliminated the smaller solutions in the market. We initially narrowed it down to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central and NetSuite. NetSuite stacked up for us in terms of pricing and functionality." And Oracle's not-for-profit discount on the NetSuite application was a welcome bonus for National Trust.

The staff at National Trust was confident that NetSuite was the right solution for it and bought into the process enthusiastically. Staff sought out and collaborated with everyone that mattered in the Office of Digital Government to complete risk assessments and every other requirement presented to them.

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"Our relationship with Fusion5 is outstanding. Its people are impressive. They know NetSuite inside out, they invested their time in getting to understand our business, and have given us great support."

Michael D'Souza, Chief Financial Officer at the National Trust of Australia (WA)

Rapid rollout

There was a tight window for implementation. The National Trust had to decide on a new solution by March 2019 and have it up and running by 30 June 2019, its end of financial year.

D’Souza worked out a staged rollout with Fusion5, starting with financials. The project kicked off in mid-March, with 90% of the deployment done offsite. The financial implementation finished right on schedule and went live on 1 July 2019. The final stages of the implementation (exporting data from the old membership database to NetSuite CRM) will see the entire solution up and running in October 2020.

What success looks like

As a not-for-profit, the National Trust is bound by standard profit and loss reporting, but it does not pay tax. Fusion5's significant experience in the charity sector helped configure and streamline the automated workflows and notifications necessary to comply with Australian Government stringent reporting regulations.

"Our first audit after NetSuite was implemented resulted in a 90% reduction in audit staff on-site and it also sped up the process. NetSuite has also resulted in at least a 20% productivity increase for the National Trust"

Michael D'souza, Chief Financial Officer at the National Trust of Australia (WA)

Implementing NetSuite has fully automated and digitised the National Trust's ability to meet the Government's complex delegation of authority (DOA) process, saving significant time and effort, while ensuring a greater level of accuracy. Using a natively integrated business application also safeguards the National Trust against potential fraud, because no financial transactions occur outside of the system. After years of being billed annually for unused support, D’souza says NetSuite's inclusive pricing model is a breath of fresh air.

"Our business is now finally aligned to government compliance to the new Treasurer’s Instructions," says D’souza. "We moved from a manual, paper-based certification process to a fully digital one."
Audits are no longer an invasive distraction for the team at National Trust. "We were able to give (the auditors) access to the system so they could audit us independently, from their own offices," says D’souza.

The National Trust went from manually typing up annual rental invoices to full automation. "We can now generate all 350 rental invoices and any payment reminders in just five minutes," says D’souza, “and email them directly to our tenants.”

Based on the increase in efficiency across the organisation, the National Trust expects to realise a return on investment within four years. "We have much better management of our financials and the dashboards, as well as the ability to drill down. The auto-notifications are all brilliant."
And D’Souza says that NetSuite was a lifesaver during the COVID-19 lockdown. "Without NetSuite, our business would have been paralysed. It worked seamlessly, and our staff could easily work from home. No setup was required."

An outstanding relationship

"From an implementation perspective, the Fusion5 team has been great. Having a Chartered Accountant in its team helped us work out the best processes for our financial transactions. It was extraordinarily helpful to us.

"Fusion5's PartnerPlus programme is also excellent. We have monthly meetings and account planning with the customer success team to make sure our solution is running well, and explore opportunities to optimise how we use it.

"Our relationship with Fusion5 is outstanding," adds D’Souza. "Its people are impressive. They know NetSuite inside out, they invested their time in getting to understand our business, and have given us great support. They delivered what we asked for and expected. There haven't been any surprises."

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