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Financial Performance Management Boosts Charity Mission

Opportunity International taps Oracle/Hyperion software to deepen analysis and speed financial reporting.
Better reporting helps meet external as well as internal requirements, according to Don Ingle, vice president of public relations. "When you get a grant from an organization such as the Gates Foundation, USAID or large individual donors, you have to satisfy that those grants are being properly administered," he says. "Internally, we have to make decisions about which countries and which NGOs deserve new funding so they can expand into opening bank branches.

Small loans from Opportunity International have enabled Elsa Reyes and her husband to steadily improve and expand their bakery in Honduras. An Oracle/Hyperion software deployment has helped the charity expand into banking services for the poor.
While deeper analysis has been a boon to the charity, it still had the problem of getting data from disparate partner source systems into the Essbase database. In early 2007, Opportunity began implementing Hyperion FDM (Financial Data Quality Management) to enable partners and central administrators to gather and normalize data without all the manual, intermediary steps previously required.

"Once a partner migrates to FDM, we no longer have people filling out Excel spreadsheets, emailing them in and then people on our end checking for errors and loading them into Essbase," says Head. "FDM imports and transforms the data, but it also has a sophisticated account map so we can map our partner source accounts into our centralized chart of accounts." The software has also improved data quality because it has greatly reduced manual data entry.

In the old approach, it took partners two days to issue quarterly reports, but using FDM, about half of the charity's partners are now reporting on a monthly basis, and each report takes less than half a day. At headquarters, Opportunity has also moved to monthly reporting, and turnaround time has been cut from 45 days down to just 20 days.

"It used to be if something happened on July 1, we wouldn't have that reported to us until November 15," says Head. "Now we learn about that by August 20, so we can respond to shifts in local economies or problems emerging at partners or branches."

In 2008, Opportunity plans to move all remaining partners to Hyperion FDM, and it's also moving into predictive analysis. "As we've moved into taking deposits and lending that money back out, we have to be very aware of the patterns of when people might be withdrawing money," Head explains. "You have to be aware of season, agricultural cycles, so we're trying to model some of those patterns and predict cash flow."

Oracle's acquisition of Hyperion last year has had little impact on the customer-vendor relationship, according to the charity. "When we first started with Hyperion, much of this software was donated, and they also donated their time and consulting on an ongoing basis," says Ingle. "That has continued since the Oracle acquisition, which we have certainly appreciated."

In fact, Opportunity plans to expand its deployment to Hyperion Analyzer in 2008 so it can develop online dashboards, and Head says Oracle is donating the software and helping with training to ensure that the deployment is a success.