Rising stars: a n innovative tech solution for bank statement reporting is helping save children’s lives

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Highlights

  • Better use of donor funds as a simple, configurable design saves hours of manual effort

  • Much improved accountability and allows improved use of ERP bank reconciliation functionality

  • A pro bono solution from Xoomworks to support Save the Children International

About Save the Children International

Too many children around the world start life at a disadvantage simply because of who they are and where they come from. All children deserve better. For over 100 years, Save the Children has championed the rights and interests of children worldwide, putting the most vulnerable children first. Through its programmes, emergency responses and advocacy, Save the Children tackles the barriers to survival, learning and protection.

Its 25,000 staff save and improve the lives of children by providing healthcare, food and shelter, and education as well as keeping them safe from harm. In 2019, Save the Children’s work directly reached 38.7 million children in 117 countries around the world. Save the Children responded to 130 humanitarian emergencies across 64 countries and contributed to 80 significant policy or legislation wins for children’s rights.

Wasted effort of scarce resources

Save the Children is accountable to donors, partners, staff and most of all, children. Every dollar must be spent effectively and efficiently, with the majority of funds going to front-line work that supports children. That’s why keeping a close watch on its finances, in every country in which it operates, ensures it manages targeted donations, operational funds and long-term investments effectively.

Daily reconciliation of over 500 bank accounts in over 60 SCI offices is no easy task. In developed countries, banks typically provide electronic statements via SWIFT messages, into Save the Children International’s Treasury Management System (TMS), which in turn uploads the statement information into Save the Children International’s ERP system, allowing efficient bank reconciliations.

Many emerging and frontier countries have limited resources available to be able to provide electronic bank statements via SWIFT. Transaction data has to be entered manually into the ERP, a very labour-intensive and error-prone process. “This effort was a waste of our scarce resources, which would be better used in front-line activities,” explains Edward Collis, Treasurer.

Creating ‘Stars’: automated statement reporting for bank reconciliations

Save the Children International approached its long-standing partner Xoomworks to see if it could help crack the problem. Xoomworks included the challenge in a hackathon – a collaborative programming sprint organised at its offices in Sofia, Bulgaria. The result was a proof of concept for individual statement formats, for example, Excel spreadsheets, to convert easily into the format required for upload to Save the Children International’s TMS. The new tool, named Stars, was developed further, and deployed with several conversion templates out of the box. Save the Children International can already automate bank reconciliations for selected bank accounts in Yemen, Iraq, Cambodia and Afghanistan through this solution.

The solution is designed to be simple to use so Save the Children International can further develop mapping templates that convert specific bank formats to the required layout for upload into Save the Children International’s TMS. Since implementing Stars, Save the Children International has added more banks to the solution’s portfolio. Its goal: to deploy the solution alongside its standard SWIFT bank statement reporting to achieve over 80% visibility of its bank accounts by the end of 2020.

Xoomworks continues to develop and support this tool free of charge, as a contribution to the work being carried out across the globe to help children in need.

Shift to value-add activities

Before the deployment of Stars, Save the Children International’s country offices needed significant manual effort to re-key non-standard statements into its ERP system to enable bank reconciliations.

Where conversion templates are in use, and standard SWIFT messaging is not available, this effort has been drastically reduced. In-country finance teams predict this will save them many working hours. Now they can re-focus their efforts on value-add activities, such as making sure funds are spent appropriately and maximising the impact of Save the Children International’s activities on children’s welfare. “We have a duty to use donor funds wisely and effectively and reducing effort on mundane tasks such as re-keying data has a direct positive effect on our ability to improve children’s lives,” says Edward. “This is a huge win for Save the Children International, and we are so grateful to Xoomworks for providing us with this solution.”

save the children transparent financial reporting

The results

  • Many hours of manual effort saved

  • Improved visibility of bank statement information

  • More efficient bank reconciliations

  • Better monitoring and control of donor fund usage

  • Improved speed, accuracy and transparency of financial reporting

All images reproduced with the permission of Save the Children International

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The key characteristic of Xoomworks’ involvement has been its deep understanding of the not-for-profit sector. They really get what we’re trying to do and the challenges we face every day. Their team is very experienced and professional, with every member completely focused on the outcomes for Save the Children International. Our consultant’s obvious enthusiasm has driven the project and delivered a fantastic solution for us.

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Edward Collis

Treasurer

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