Food Matters’ financial systems

Introducing light touch financial and operational tools and techniques to help this food research consultancy move to the next level

The client

Food Matters is a not-for-profit national food policy and advocacy organisation working to create sustainable and fair food systems.

The brief

To help the leadership team of Food Matters put in improved financial and operational processes that would help them run their organisation efficiently and effectively so that they could concentrate as much as possible on delivering their mission.

Our approach

Our approach was to find simple, light touch and effective processes that didn’t become a big administrative task, but which were also useful – helping the Director and Board have better data and greater visibility of what was happening in the organisation, and therefore provide better information to support their decision making.

It was agreed that the work should be delivered flexibly with small changes being made over time, allowing changes to be adopted gradually alongside their normal workloads rather than creating stress by trying to implement lots of changes at once.

Initial investigative conversations were held with the client to understand the current operational set up and through this three key areas were identified where the biggest improvements were possible for the smallest amount of effort.

1) Time/Resource Management - tracking and reporting

People costs are by far the most significant cost to most organisations and it is really important to understand where that most precious of resources is being directed and to make sure that energies are focused on the right activities.

As timesheets are never anyone’s favourite thing there was a need for a ‘light touch’ solution that was easy and quick for the team to use so that project leads could be supplied with this critical data without placing an administrative burden on the team as a whole.

We recommended a simple and free online tool that provided a user friendly and simple way to analyse time spent on projects and other organisational activities.

2) Bookkeeping and accounting

The legacy accounting package that was being used did the basics, but was not particularly user friendly and didn’t really help the organisation to do anything other than report financial history for the statutory accounts. We felt that there was an opportunity to put in a new accounting package and processes that would help Food Matters manage their business more effectively for very little cost.

We recommended upgrading to a new cloud based accounting package that was easier to use for non-accountants and accountants alike. We worked with Food Matters external accountants and bookkeeper to seamlessly move over to the new system and to time the implement the new package so that it didn’t cause any disruption to the business.

3) Management information

Following on from 1 and 2, was the opportunity to help create better management information to help the Director and Board in their decision making.

The result

With no implementation costs and very little training required, Food Matters were able to put a new time tracking process in immediately and very quickly were able to use the new tool both to understand existing ways of working but also to more effectively plan for the future.

With good planning around the upgrade of the accounting system, Food Matters were quickly up and running with the new system which provided much better visibility of financial performance and improved financial reporting for the Director and Board.

Now that the time management and accounting systems are bedded in, we are working with Food Matters to help them create really useful planning and forecasting information from these new tools.

Most importantly rather than having to rely on accountants to help them understand their organisation's financials, Food Matters are able to feel confident in using the tools and information they now have at their disposal.