Family Giving Tree Is Rooted in Their Mission to Give With Financial Automation From BILL
Nonprofit healthcare universities have a lot to juggle: the wellbeing of their students, supporting their local community, and the care of future patients. The last thing they need to worry about is running across the campus to chase down an approver’s signature.
That’s why Larkin University partnered with BILL to find a solution. Founded in 2013 and located in Miami Gardens, Florida, Larkin University was created to support the education and health care needs of South Florida’s diverse communities. The College of Biomedical Sciences offers a graduate degree and the College of Pharmacy offers a doctoral degree. Both offer curriculum in an intellectual environment that promotes optimal learning.
Their previous AP automation software was “cumbersome and gave everybody headaches,” so CFO and Vice President Alan Fessenden went on a mission to find a streamlined solution.
“When we switched over to BILL, the training took like two minutes, and the department heads were all thrilled at how easy it was,” Fessenden says. “People were so grateful for BILL, they kept saying, ’Oh, wow, this is great.’ The process has just been sped up so much.”
Managing the university’s finances with ease
With only two employees on the finance team, Larkin University needed an intuitive AP automation solution that could help them save time and provide more visibility and transparency into their accounts payable process. The new system makes it easy for the university’s 23 faculty members to directly view the status of their invoices and approvals, reducing the number of queries and follow-ups that the finance team has to handle.
Additionally, BILL minimizes the time-consuming data entry that bogged down the finance team, and they’ve been able to transition their previously full-time AP clerk to a part-time position while still supporting the finance needs of the university.
BILL’s mobile app supports a bustling campus and a hybrid work environment
Larkin University focuses on small class sizes and individualized attention, so they need a solution that allows the faculty to spend more time with their students and less time approving invoices.
Larkin University’s finance team used to leave manila envelopes on a professor’s desk and wait days to get the signature back, but BILL’s mobile app has helped to speed up the approvals process. Approvers can pull out their phones and easily approve invoices from anywhere with confidence and security.
Fessenden states: “I would say about 60% of the invoices are approved through the BILL mobile app. The employees and managers are all far more responsive to approving through BILL because they can do it wherever they want.”
This new process proved extra helpful when the campus went remote during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the finance department to maintain visibility into their invoices despite their approvers working from home.
Simplifying nonprofit audits
One of the most daunting parts of running a nonprofit is the annual audit, but BILL has simplified this step for Larkin University. They provided a user ID to the auditor so he could fully review invoices, vendors, and approvals.
“I think the ability to customize user access to BILL is a big selling point,” Fessenden says. “We’re able to give the auditor read-only access so he can take a look at everything, and the auditor loved how easy it was.”
And utilizing BILL eliminates the need for long-term document storage. Adds Fessenden, “With BILL, we can go back as far as we need to view invoices, as opposed to digging out last year’s AP boxes that were put in storage and hoping that the invoice was filed away properly or we haven't lost the box. That is extremely helpful.”
BILL ensures visibility of financial data across systems
Because Larkin University handles federal funds, there is a need for a strong audit trail process to track invoices being paid and charged correctly in their general ledger, MIP, through BILL for AP. Therefore, Larkin has set up an integration between MIP and BILL, an important factor in their decision to sign-up for BILL, allowing them to keep both systems up-to-date by importing and exporting critical invoice data.
Getting the integration up and running between MIP and BILL was quick and easy. Larkin already had an invoice import template, used for student refunds, so when they went with BILL, it was easy to do an AP export. “I have minimal edits to the exported data from BILL. Once I clean this up, I copy it into the MIP invoice template then upload it. So, super easy,” says Fessenden. The BILL implementation team was also critical in helping him get set up with the integration, such as ensuring a cost center was assigned to a budget owner so bills always go to the right approver.
Handling adjuncts and unusual charges
Nonprofit universities face unique challenges, as they have to account for every dollar spent throughout their organization. BILL helps Larkin University track everything from utility bills to software licenses for student and library computers, 1099 payments for adjuncts and contractors, and even university research databases.
“Anything I can print a check for is paid through BILL,” Fessenden says. This system helps the two-person finance department oversee campuswide-spending with little time-consuming data entry or manual effort.