Please share any additions/reflections if you have them.
Thank you @alanna for holding and recording the call. There was a lot of content in that call. Following are the notes I extracted. I will do some synthesis and come back with next steps.
this is about Banking systems & accounting processes
If there is fraud would we catch it?
OCNZ is trying to avoid using an accounting system and only relying on the platform.
The GiftCollective uses XERO
My bank charges me a $5 fee for a credit card and I didn't put that on the platform ... now there is a problem for accounting. I don't think we should pressure ourselves into bringing the platform to meet accounting standards (and beware of liability).
Right-sizing the project, understanding the problem space and prioritizing.
We don't have a documented process how to use the platform as a tool in relation to other tools. Explaining how the platform is a tool, what the ledger is, how to work with external systems, extra-platform processes (fiscal host playbook).
How are people thinking about the platform as a tool? for example, reconciliation requires information that is not on the platform.
Initially the platform felt simple,
today we have different relationships with different collectives,
working with different countries in different ways.
How to work with taxes (GST in NZ vs VAT in Europe),
Would like custom solutions for different hosts, better CSV management.
JF is changing accountants and they use different systems (currently Visma, future AurusOrus)
interaction with banks and accounting systems
choices have ramifications.
reconciling the platform against the banking transactions, currently requires human intervention ... aspiring to create an accounting interface ...
to which platform? replace quickbooks with a more robust platform?
Summarizing revenue related transactions (quickbooks can't handle the number of transactions well, creating a clogged ledger) - consider create a certain amount of consolidation;
using flexible data migration platforms (apiyey);
I need to inject additional information into the ledger - double-ledger entries - transforming the way the platform prepares the information for accounting interfaces. Each transaction needs to have a debit & a credit (and there needs to be information about merchant accounts).
What are our reconciliation policies?
Making sure we can pass audits well.
More robust, more efficient and less prone to error.
Preparing for an accounting interface would create a target for where the platform may want to go.
Platform information needs to be fundamentally translatable.
Monthly and annual tasks - data migrationa an daudit.
Desirable: when something new is introduced it is designed that it already has the stops and is ready for the accounting integration. Eg: rollout a "grant concept" what does it mean legally, what does it mean for collectives. what doees it mean for acounting interfaces. The tools need to have plasticity.
Lauren responding: consider accounting effects early in the product process (as we do for documentation).
Extra1: weakness regarding approvals (Jessica the auditor & dawn) - a more holistic conversation - the concept of approval workflow should be considered.
Extra2: more than any other non-profit, the financial systems are related to the mission. We have a philosophical view: serving the purpose of what you want OC to do.
Alanna: These financial processes are core to what we do ... how do they serve our mission.
Daily reconciling is the biggest challenge.
End of month - this was an OSC expense, did it come out from the right bank account & making sure the ledger is up to date. Provide Scott with a report that easily read and Scott can give me things that are not matching up.
We use metabase as our budgeting tool (projections) - where do others get data:
Alanna - we use Causal (inputs are messy, platform + database, error-prone.) Metabase is a double-edged sword - so powerful - easy to get things wrong and mismatch.
Working backwards - if there is a report that you need, do we have a path to get there?
Alanna - there are MANY reports, we need the platform to get to "accounting compatibility."
Scott - the unit we need to think about: once a thing becomes a real transaction - it needs to have everything built into it (summarized or not): categorization.
Daily challenge figuring out how to allocate incoming funds.
Quarterly VAT report to accountants. Related: Collectives should be able to send invoices to clients. The fiscal host needs to do this for the collectives.
Monthly balancing: funds managed on the platform, banking account, merchant accounts (paypal, wise, stripe) - where are in terms of the funds we manage?
Managing VAT questions - join collective form - unique prompts for Europe.
New accounts are already very pleased, it is OK for manual work, automating requires more work.
It's hard to differentiate the type of contributions on the platform for the accounting. Is it a donation? A grant? A sponsorship? A service? The accountants do not have a clear view on this through the data we are sending in the csv.
The Belgium financial ecosystem is heavy (unlike the US 501c3) because we are acting in a gray-area - authorities don't know what fiscal hosting is - OCE is required to create interfaces with what the authorities do recognize.
Working backwards from audits - reducing friction and anxiety.
Producing PNL and balance sheets - fiscal hosts need this when they approach (for example) funds. I currently get this from Scott, not from the platform.
OCNZ - trying to get from the platform data to a PNL/Balance sheet.
GST (similar to VAT) - doing the last mile of reporting to the government for tax.
Discrepencies - reconciliation - friction when things don't match up. This requires manual detective work.
Fraud detection risks. Seeing what is happening on the bank account, merchant accounts and the platform.
How to make the platform accessible to other hosts - having an answer, information, documentation about how you can use what we make available.
Matching incoming funds. We already have pending contributions and bank transfers but These are parts of, not a complete solution.