Established in 1954, Bethel Church of Redding is a nondenominational charismatic megachurch with three physical campuses, as well as an online campus, based in Redding, California. The church has a congregation of roughly 11,000. The finance team at Bethel Church manages six different entities, including the church, a music label and publishing company, a media provider, a conservatory and a technical school - all of which are run on Baker Tilly' Digital's church accounting software. The organization has been on the Baker Tilly Digital church financial platform for more than a year, having migrated from Shelby v.5, an accounting system the church used for roughly 20 years.
We had a good, solid implementation experience with Baker Tilly. Our organization is very diverse and complex and the Baker Tilly team was able to navigate that complexity very well.John Raftery, CFO, Bethel Church of Redding
The church finance team found budgeting to be cumbersome and began to feel that the system was antiquated. Mac users had to log into a separate server to use the accounting system. "It made for a really clunky process," says John Raftery, CFO at Bethel Church. "In order to perform one task, it could take up to three steps."
As the church expanded its operations, the structure changed - what were once different departments became separate legal entities. Managing those entities with their existing system was a very manual process. Financials for each entity had to be run separately and then consolidated in Excel, with no ability to drill down to the transaction level. Because of these challenges and the lack of anywhere, anytime web access, the church began to look for something more accessible and browser-based.
Capabilities needed in a new system identified by the finance team included automated multi-entity consolidations and a cloud- or web-based user interface. They had also grown frustrated with the processes around maintenance releases and the amount of time it would take for the system to be fully operable after a release. The church wanted to move to a more modern, innovative solution.
We're better equipped to get our work done. Generating board reports was cut by 5-10 hours compared with how we had to run reports before and manually compile the data. It's night and day. We're all happier.John Raftery, CFO, Bethel Church of Redding
With Shelby's announced end to maintenance for their v.5 product in March of 2020, the obvious path for Bethel Church seemed to be ShelbyNEXT, a web-based version of the Shelby product. The team's mindset was more that they needed to upgrade, rather than needing to do a software evaluation and consider moving to a new platform. Another church recommended they look at Baker Tilly Digital and that changed their perspective. "It was a real 'wow' moment when we saw Sage Intacct," says Raftery. "Baker Tilly Digital expanded our thinking. They gave us insight into our potential and once we realized what was available, it didn't take long to realize Baker Tilly Digital would add so many capabilities for us."
Bethel Church is a large organization with many moving parts. That made implementing an entirely new accounting system a challenge. Teaming up with Baker Tilly Digital's implementation team helped make that processes smoother. Baker Tilly Digital has a team of former church finance leaders who have implemented Sage Intacct for more than 200 churches.
With Baker Tilly Digital, Bethel Church has taken advantage of a number of innovations unavailable to them with their former system. Raftery highlighted a few:
Raftery and his team emphasized Sage Intacct's reporting many times during our conversation. Bethel Church manages a large number of events and the finance team generates reports on those events on a weekly or bi-monthly basis. The ability to "memorize" or clone those reports and schedule them to go out has been a life changer. "That feature alone has saved my team untold hours," says Raftery.
Drill-down capability - running a General Ledger report and drilling down to AP to see where the transaction came from and look at the back-up documentation - is another feature Raftery and his team emphasized. "Previously, we had to go to a separate module and navigate a confusing back-up system. This has saved us hours of work and probably our sanity."
In addition to Sage Intacct's accounting and ERP functionality, the system's platform development capabilities have become part of the conversation as well. The organization needed a new artist and writer's commission system and worked with Baker Tilly Digital's development team to build that as a module on the Sage Intacct platform.