Blackbaud, Inc. - The Financial Edge
From the November 2011 Review of Not-for-Profit Accounting Systems
The Financial Edge is well-suited for mid-sized to large nonprofit organizations and government entities that require both top-notch reporting capability along with excellent donor and grant management.
- Excellent customization capability
- Easy integration with dozens of add-on modules
- Unlimited customized dashboards
- Solid grant tracking
- Easy integration with The Raiser’s Edge
- Flexible, scalable product
- Cost may be prohibitive for smaller organizations
- Complex data setup can be time-consuming
The Financial Edge from Blackbaud, Inc. is a robust financial software product designed for larger foundations and government entities with complex needs. Powerful, yet easy to use, The Financial Edge provides excellent fund accounting functionality along with excellent financial management.
Basic System Functions - 5 Stars
The Financial Edge can be installed on a desktop/laptop computer or accessed remotely using the hosted version of the product. The system offers an easily navigated main screen that contains a drop-down menu at the top. A series of features and quick access tabs are found to the left of the screen, which refreshes when accessing another module. Quick access links to frequently used functions and reports can be easily set up on the homepage, along with daily reminders. Workflow areas found within each module minimize data entry and system navigation time tremendously. One time-saving feature is Allocation Management, which allows users to set up allocations to post automatically against accounts or projects. AP entry has been simplified with the ability to enter multiple invoices in a spreadsheet type format that drastically cuts down on data-entry time, as well. All data-entry screens contain a Find option for easy file location.
The Financial Edge offers 28 modules that users can pick and choose from as needed, ensuring flexibility today and scalability tomorrow. Available modules include the following: GL, AR, AP, Accounting Forms, Accounting Queue, Advanced Budget Management, Advanced Security, Allocation Management, Cash Management, Cash Receipts, Consolidation Management, CounterPoint, Web Purchasing, Web Invoicing, Fixed Assets, Paper Save, Payroll, Point of Sale, Project, Grant & Endowment Management, Purchase Orders, Visual Basic for Applications, Application Programming Interface, Student Billing, School Store Manager, Electronic Funds Transfer, F9, and Integration with The Raiser’s Edge, a widely used fundraising and donor management software product.
With its modular structure, The Financial Edge is easily scalable for organizations of just about any size, with the ability to mix and match modules and add on as needed.
Core NFP/Fund Accounting Capabilities - 5 Stars
The Financial Edge offers a completely user-defined chart of account structure with the ability to create the account length and number of segments needed. The Financial Edge processes multiple transaction types, including general journal entries, automatic journal entries and automatic reversals, recurring invoices, and standard invoice and cash receipts.
Two optional budgeting modules are available. The Budget Management module allows users to budget revenue and expenses well into the future. Users can also create multiple budgets at the project level for better detailed tracking, with the option to adjust totals. The Advanced Budget Management module is designed to link payroll expenses directly to specific project budgets, with even line-item budget details easily viewed. Regular data pulled from accounts can be easily combined, as well as user-defined fields for creating a truly customized budget. Easy integration with The Raiser’s Edge provides excellent donor management capability, tracking current and potential donors as well as maintaining a solid database of donor prospects. The Raiser’s Edge also offers smooth integration with the GL module for easy tracking of donations and other monies received. The optional Project, Grant & Endowment Management module allows for tracking revenues, activities and expenses by project, grant or endowment fund. An automatic fund-balancing feature ensures that all funds are in balance at all times, with users able to balance funds by project or segment code.
Users can utilize multiple fiscal years for all projects or grants, with cross-year reporting available. The Financial Edge offers excellent audit trail functionality, with transactions recorded and accessible across all system modules.
Accounts Payable for Bill-Paying Automation allows users to pay invoices using their preferred method, which includes standard check processing as well as EFT bill payment. Invoices can be emailed directly from the processing screen, and the hosted and SaaS delivery means that users can access the system with an Internet connection from wherever they are located.
Management Features - 5 Stars
The Financial Edge offers the ability to custom create any number of dashboards based on user-defined criteria. All dashboards contain drilldown capability, with hyperlinks included. The Budget Management module contains a ‘what-if’ option that allows users to view various financial results by plugging in a variety of numbers. System security is multi-level, with access available by project, account, function and module. Web-accessibility is also secure, with Blackbaud using a single database for each client, rather than having multiple clients share a single database. Users are warned when budget totals approach overages, and users can easily keep a handle on delinquent accounts in the AR module. The Paper-Save module allows for storing documents electronically. And as previously noted, The Raiser’s Edge provides excellent donor and fundraising management.
Financial Statements & Reporting - 5 Stars
The Financial Edge includes more than 100 standard, pre-formatted reports that can be customized as needed. All system reports are created with the Crystal Reports report engine. Add-on products such as F9 provide even greater customization. Grant and endowment reporting options are also excellent with the ability to report on specific activities within a project, grant or endowment. Users can easily create nonprofit-specific reports such as FASB 117 and GASB 34. All reports can be exported to a wide variety of system formats including Word, Excel, Crystal Reports, or HTML.
Integration & Import/Export - 5 Stars
To simplify third-party integration and eliminate repetitive data entry, The Financial Edge offers an Application Programming Interface (API). Data import and export formats include HTML, Word, Excel and XML. All Blackbaud products are designed to easily integrate, creating an exceptional nonprofit software suite. Organizations can provide tax and accounting professionals with their own login and password for easy data access.
Help/Support - 5 Stars
An excellent Help function is included. The vendor’s website also offers an extensive selection of information, including access to all module manuals, a FAQs section and a product Knowledgebase. Various training and customer support options are available, and all system upgrades and downloads can be made from the vendor’s website.
Summary & Pricing
Web-based subscription pricing for The Financial Edge start at $299 per month for a single user, with maintenance and implementation services included. The traditional on-premise license costs $2,995 for up to three users. The Financial Edge is and excellent option for larger nonprofits and government entities, offering an almost endless sea of add-ons designed to integrate with and enhance the product.
2011 Overall Rating: 5 Stars