A container for surfacing desired outcomes that our work will make possible.
I've attempted to distill the kickoff conversation into desired outcomes. Please review this list and respond any comments you may have, suggestions to modify any of these desired outcomes and propose additional outcomes you would to see.
All of the outcomes are written from a fiscal host (executive) admin perspective. Are there other perspectives we wish to speak to? Do we want to also consider desired outcomes from a collective admin perspective?
I've grouped the desired outcomes into four groups:
Personal - outcomes that pertain to my direct lived experience while using the platform.
Operational - outcomes that pertain to how I use the platform in my day-to-day operations.
Accounting - outcomes that pertain to how I use the platform when working with accountants and accounting tools.
Strategic - long term outcomes for the Open Collective ecosystem as a whole.
I want to be able to trust and lean into the information the ledger provides me.
Establish clear and reliable reconciliation processes across ledger, bank & merchant accounts.
Harness reconciliation for early detection of possible fraud.
Create easy access to datasets that can be used reliably for generating financial projections.
Improve our expense approval processes for better accounting and accountability.
Establish periodic reconciliation processes (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly).
Prepare the ledger to better interface with standardized accounting protocols (such as double-entry ledgers and aggregated transactions) while supporting large fiscal hosts in scaling up their operations (many more contributions and expenses across many more diverse collectives).
Account for taxes (such as VAT/GST and perhaps other taxes?)
Account for different kinds of contributions (donation, grant, sponsorship, service provided, product sold).
Establish best practices when working with accounts who rely on information extracted from the platform.
Produce P&L and balance sheet outputs directly from the platform.
Prepare the ground for future fiscal hosts.
Enhance our ledger and work processess for reliably assimilating new kinds of transactions (such as grants).
Where does the point about improving the expense approval process come from? I'm not aware of that being an issue really. I think our system does a good job with that currently (for expenses on the platform - stuff that happens off the platform that we need to sync with the platform is probably in scope here).
Does "harness reconciliation" include the points about syncing with bank account balances and activity? I think that's the crux of it, but you could call that "reconciliation". Just want to be sure that's clear. But it's not just about possible fraud (although that's an important part) it's also just a core function we have to achieve - some way to know if the money on OC matches the money in the bank. Possibly this is captured by "periodic reconciliation".
"Produce P&L and balance sheet outputs directly from the platform." -> If we end up doing an integration with accounting software this may not be necessary. If we can get the data in those systems correctly, then those tools are great for producing these reports. We should think carefully about what we want to achieve directly vs what we want to enable through integration.
For strategic points, i'd also add something about scalability. For the large hosts continue to grow, we really have to ensure the foundations of our ledger and financial processes are solid. We're currently reaching the limits and that's why this work is surfacing now.
Personally I don't think enhancing the ledger for new kinds of transactions is much of a focus. Our current system does an OK job and it's not the transaction data where the systems need to help with this kind of compliance stuff, it's other areas like being able to associate grant contracts with Collectives, etc, which are outside the scope of this working group.
Thank you @Alanna Irving for the feedback :)
Improving expense approval (was mentioned by Scott) is something that we are already working on. I think most of the improvements will come from systemic changes like the workplace and in-app notifications. But I think there may be a at least one area where we may be missing a key piece - it has to do with what I framed as agreements - information that currently resides mostly in a few people's heads and is needed in order to more reliably approve expenses. This has come up indirectly in a few conversations I've heard, especially around new people at OCF required to regularly make decisions they lack the context to make.
Yes, harness reconciliation is, in my mind, primarily about syncing across ledger, bank and merchant accounts. I chose this as a high level framing as I was trying to distill the many points that came up during the kickoff call.
P&L / Balance sheets - I agree this may not be necessary if we end up building integrations. However, I'm not sure we are going to end up doing integrations and I do think that this provides a good target to work towards in terms of "preparing the ledger to better interface with accounting systems." I think the ability to do so may also be valuable in the context of collectives managing their budgets.
I will add "scalability" to the 2nd accounting desired outcome.
I agree with you that preparing the ledger for new kinds of transactions is not a priority. That is why it is last on the list. However, from listening to Scott, I do sense that there is something there which, if done correctly, may serve other higher priority objectives. So I kept this as a low priority potential that may be pointing us in a good direction and we may need to achieve.