Earlier this month, I attended the Abila Users and Developers Conference (AUDC) in Austin, Texas. The conference is an annual event and brings together Abila’s software users, business partners (like us), vendors that offer complimentary software applications or services, and various other organizations and having a stake in the not-for-profit world.
Normally, affairs like this are not my favorite pastime but this one exceeded my expectations. It was a great opportunity to personally to connect with the people we work with at Abila, acquire some relevant training (CPE approved), and get a sense where business software for the nonprofit sector is going. Austin was nice, too, boasting first-class accommodations at the conveniently located new downtown JW Marriott and wonderful weather. Spring had definitely sprung with people in shorts, sandals and tank tops.
Let me take off on where business applications software, such as accounting, fund raising and membership management (Abila’s big three) is going. Not that this is unique to nonprofit world, it can be summed up in three words: Cloud, Mobile, Integration.
Cloud and Mobile are continuations of a trend with one begetting the other. Integration has always been with us to some extent but is now much enhanced and enlarged also because of applications built for the Cloud and ability to connect via the Internet. An essential component of application integration is a technology called Application Programming Interface (API).
Software developers build APIs into their applications making possible integration of software built for different but overlapping purposes. Accounting and fundraising are obvious examples. In fact Abila will introduce integration of their new fundraising software, Elevate, with MIP Fund Accounting later this year. The result should be a more streamlined process without having to export from one system and import to another. Look for an article about APIs next month.
The integration trend is more than what can be accomplished within the same developer company. More developers are building software that goes beyond automating accounting entries to actually replacing an entire function – in affect outsourcing – normally done by the accounting software itself, and doing it better. Accounts payable and expense management are prime examples of functions undergoing this transformation and should command the interest of nonprofits that want to improve efficiency and excellence of service. This is exciting stuff.
In the weeks ahead, we will be receiving demos of some of the more promising applications that integrate presently or are planned with MIP Fund Accounting – and in some cases QuickBooks. We will share what we learn through this Newsletter and the MIP Virtual Forum. If you want to get a flavor of what we are talking about you can browse some of website listed below.
Vantive – online credit card payments
ACOM Solutions – Accounts payable automation
Avidxchange – Accounts payable automation
Nexnia – Expense management
Lee Bengston, CPA