Touchstone-Tate Bramald Provides Zoological Society of London with Improved Management Information

Touchstone-Tate Bramald helps The Zoological Society of London improve management information and charity accounting

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and its various divisions and properties, which include the London Zoo, Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, the Institute of Zoology and Conservation Programmes, has selected SunSystems exfm, an extended financial management solution from IT services company and not-for-profit specialists Touchstone-Tate Bramald, in an order valued at around £125,000 for a two phase development. Stage one of the project will improve access to management information and charity reporting and will deliver key productivity improvements throughout ZSL. The second stage of the project will include the implementation of a web-based procurement solution, which will allow the organisation to streamline the procurement of goods and services in order to control costs and achieve best value from suppliers

Touchstone-Tate Bramald was appointed on the strength of its reputation for service excellence, as well as its previous work with charity and voluntary organisations. Newly-created Touchstone-Tate Bramald, part of the Touchstone group of companies, is dedicated to supporting over 400 not-for-profit organisations and charity sector clients.

ZSL is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Its activities include presenting outstanding living collections, breeding threatened species, raising public awareness through educational programmes, conducting relevant research and undertaking action in the field. ZSL serves as a leading force in conservation through its work with the Institute of Zoology and Conservation Programmes, in addition to caring for the living collections at London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park.

Due to the diverse nature of the programmes and services offered by the organisation, the charity needed a financial system that would allow its accounts department to track all these activities in detail and on an ongoing basis, and make this information available across the organisation.

The extended financial management solution from Touchstone-Tate Bramald will enable ZSL to provide access to real-time reports and detailed financial analysis. This will offer the organisation's management improved analysis and forecasting abilities to facilitate future growth. In addition, the Touchstone system is expected to deliver significant improvements in overall staff productivity and in the way in which financial reports can accommodate the charity accounting requirements of SORP and handle partial VAT exemption.

Michael Bird, Finance Director at ZSL comments, "We needed to replace inefficient spreadsheet-based procedures with a single shared system, so as to improve access to meaningful and up-to-date information about costs for the senior management team and other budget holders. Another key requirement was to comply with the reporting requirements of SORP and other charity accounting regulations and in particular to handle VAT reporting with regard to the wide range of activities ZSL undertakes, it also needed to be able to manage the complexities of restricted funds."

ZSL selected Touchstone-Tate Bramald thanks to its considerable experience in solving many different business issues for organisations in the not-for-profit sector. Bird praised Touchstone for its high quality service. "Touchstone-Tate Bramald has helped us focus on what we are trying to achieve and how we can achieve it. Their reputation and strength in the not-for-profit sector, coupled with their dependable service made them a highly attractive partner to work with."

SunSystems exfm was selected because of its business intelligence capabilities, in particular the ease by which users can build reports and create enquiries. "The new system will greatly reduce the time taken to produce reports; we anticipate that it will allow us to cut down reporting time from three weeks to less than 10 working days," Bird said. "People will get the information they need sooner, giving them more time to analyse and make more effective use of the data they are presented with. From the finance side of things, we will be able to look more closely at the figures, interrogate them and go behind them. Managers should be able to get more detail out, more quickly, so that if they need to take action they know to do it sooner rather than later."

The system will also reduce the manual effort associated with inputting and consolidating data from the London and Whipsnade sites, as well as limiting the number of queries currently directed at the finance department. "In addition to saving a lot of finance staff time," says Bird, "the new system delivered by Touchstone will put departmental heads more in control of their own destinies by giving them the ability to access the information they need for themselves."

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