SAS® Financial Management helps North Carolina Museum of Art bring more beauty to residents
To help it grow and keep track of its multiple programs, the North Carolina Museum of Art needed a more sophisticated way to manage its $14 million annual operating budget, a $60 million multiyear capital campaign, a $72 million building expansion project and a $20 million renovation to the existing facility. Using SAS® Financial Management, the museum can report monthly what it once struggled to report annually.
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Chief Deputy Director, Chief Financial Officer
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Woodrum had come from the private sector, where she had access to high-level financial management tools. “The primary ledger system the museum used was adequate for a nonprofit, and it worked,’’ Woodrum says. However, it was difficult for the museum to see how it was doing when reports had figures at least three months old. When board members met each quarter, they received data from two months prior. The biggest shortfall of the existing system was that it was particularly hard to track the costs of multiyear projects, such as when the museum worked with two other museums to curate a temporary exhibit of Monet paintings. “It was difficult to track the management costs over several fiscal periods, and three- or four-year-long projects aren’t uncommon for us.”
Multiyear projects, like traveling temporary exhibits, are important for driving attendance and bringing in additional revenue through ticket, gift shop and food service sales. While the exhibits are critical to the museum’s mission of helping the state’s economy, they can’t be mounted at the expense of the museum’s core educational mission.
“I needed a tool that could accelerate the flow of information into the hands of decision makers and help drive the museum toward a more profitable baseline. Even nonprofits need to manage and make money in order to create a place which continues to enhance our visitors’ experiences and desire to visit,” Woodrum says.
With SAS Financial Management, the museum has a much better handle on its expenses. “Now board members are getting accurate, up-to-date information at each meeting,’’ Woodrum says. And while the museum separates the money it receives from the state government, the foundation and the state art society, “I now have a system capable of consolidating the information from these different legal entities and pulling together a combined financial statement,” Woodrum says. “This allows us to plan strategically.” Woodrum now has the ability to utilize a top-down budgeting approach that allocates a budget to each department and allows them to manage those dollars directly.
To accomplish this, Woodrum needed a system non-financially trained users could work with. This is important because the museum isn’t large enough to embed a financial professional in each business unit. The museum has six power users and 30 staff members who access the system. “Being able to quickly see that there’s a gap between your budget and your actual spending leads to cost savings and to better decisions. And it gives you the ability to respond more quickly when things are, in fact, veering off track.”
Perhaps the biggest benefit has been the ease with which the museum moved through its most recent audit. “SAS Financial Management definitely contributed to a very successful audit this year. We had no audit adjustments. No management recommendation points. That’s very unusual, especially for a nonprofit.”
Woodrum was also pleased with the help she received from SAS. The museum has only two IT professionals, so it needed vendor support. “What SAS does exceptionally well is provide customer service at the highest possible mark.”
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Chief Deputy Director and Chief Financial Officer
NC Museum of Art
The museum needed to replace spreadsheets with a more sophisticated budgeting tool to allow staff to do the kind of long-range budgeting and planning needed to bring in major art exhibits. The museum also needed a solution that non-financial staff could use
SAS Financial Management keeps different funding sources separate but can also provide a big-picture, multiyear view that helps the museum plan strategically
The museum can track expenses on multiyear projects with ease and provide board members with up-to-date finances. It also passed a recent audit with no adjustments
“What SAS does exceptionally well is provide customer service at the highest possible mark.”
Chief Deputy Director, Chief Financial Officer