Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) is a social justice organisation working alongside people experiencing disadvantage to address the fundamental causes of poverty in Australia. We believe no one should live in poverty. Our mission is to pursue lasting change, to create a more compassionate and just society where everyone can thrive.

Eight (8) Months to Complete Budget

Facing a complex budgeting cycle, BSL sought transformative solutions. The organisation found it crucial to have an efficient, effective, and adaptive budgeting and forecasting system.

“Our mission has always been service-centric, and that means every budgetary decision directly impacts the people we serve,” says Christine How, Financial Planning and Analysis Manager at BSL.

Their quest led them to partner with Board International and GK Horizons (GKH), initiating a transformative journey.

One of BSL’s strategic goals is to be an inclusive, effective, efficient, and agile organisation. BSL has roughly 300 budget contributors, depending on programs being created and or terminating. This is facilitated through the FP&A team of eight that interacts with the rest of the organisation to support them in allocating resources for the next 12 months ahead.

BSL was looking for a way to elevate the role of finance by being more strategic. As such, a key focus area of the FP&A team was to accelerate decision-making across the business.

A need was identified to budget more accurately and quickly as BSL was reliant on spreadsheets at the time.

“It used to take us eight months to complete the budget with roughly 14 iterations, give or take,” says Christine.

BSL not only needed to shorten the annual budgeting cycle but also wanted to embed additional forecasting processes and have more time for analysis as opposed to just consolidating a budget once a year.

Selection and Decision Process

BSL’s meticulous decision-making process considered various factors, with a significant emphasis on the history of success and the alignment of GKH and Board with the not-for-profit sector. References from peers in related industries provided insights into how the two companies had fared in similar environments. This detailed examination assured BSL of the potential benefits and led to a fruitful partnership.

“We wanted a solution that echoed with our ethos, and GKH’s history with not-for-profits was an instant draw,” remarks Kevin Eng, Business Analyst – IT/Finance Projects at BSL.

Three decisive factors tilted the scales:

  1. Industry Alignment: “GKH’s knack for tailoring solutions to our unique challenges was impressive,” Christine noted.
  2. Collaborative Approach: “The Board-GKH synergy was evident. It reassured us of a smooth implementation,” adds Kevin.
  3. Proven Track Record: Christine highlights, “Real stories, real successes – that’s what resonated with us.”
Project Implementation & Results

BSL had outlined a clear timeline for the project’s completion and the project was delivered on time by GKH. Post-implementation, BSL reaped notable benefits. The streamlined budgeting process, reduced from eight to three months, was a significant milestone.

“With GKH, every challenge met a solution. Their agility was commendable. The benefits post-implementation are monumental”, says Christine.

This acceleration not only saved time but also facilitated better, informed decisions as the budget was ready prior to the financial year.

  • Efficiency Gains: “From eight months to three – that’s not just efficiency; it’s transformation,” Kevin proudly states.
  • Improved Decision-making: Christine emphasises, “Timely budgets mean informed decisions. It’s a game-changer for us.”
  • Streamlined Iterations: “Fewer iterations meant more alignment and focus,” Kevin notes.

Furthermore, “Board isn’t just a tool for us; it’s our compass. It guides our financial decisions,” says Christine, signaling the deep integration of Board into BSL’s processes.

Future Endeavours & Enhancements

While the initial successes are commendable, BSL is not resting on its laurels. With ambitions to implement three-way budgeting, BSL intends to have a holistic view encompassing P&L, balance sheet, and cash flow. Moreover, the focus on automated data validation and bridging analysis between financial years indicates BSL’s commitment to continuous improvement.

“We’re on a continuous journey of refinement. Our vision is to have a holistic three-way budgeting system,” shares Kevin.

Conclusion: Kevin sums it up, “Our journey with GKH and Board International isn’t just about streamlining operations; it’s about laying the groundwork for a brighter, more efficient future.”

Christine nods in agreement, “In the ever-evolving landscape of budgeting and forecasting, this partnership was our beacon, guiding us to success.”

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