2014 Review of Blackbaud - The Financial Edge

Best Fit: The Financial Edge, from Blackbaud is well suited for small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations, NGO’s, and government entities.  An excellent choice for those needing comprehensive donor and grant management functionality, The Financial Edge can be easily scaled up or down, depending on the needs of the organization. 

Strengths

  • More flexible pricing structure
  • Long list of available modules and third-party applications
  • Excellent industry specific options available
  • Scalable and customizable
  • Excellent budgeting capability

Potential Limitations

  • Not well-suited to very small nonprofits


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Full Review:

Basic System Functions - 5 Stars

The Financial Edge is available as an on-premise product or as a hosted product.  Though a robust system, The Financial Edge is easily navigated, with a drop-down menu at the top of the main screen offering access to system modules. A vertical navigation bar offers quick access to all functions within each module, with the main screen offering a flow chart of available functions found within each process.  The F7 key also serves as a search function, and the availability of tabs makes it easy to navigate between system functions.  Users can set up a group of favorites on the home page that will display upon sign in or use the Quick Access Links function to save frequently used functions and reports. 

Data entry screens are easy to navigate and all contain look up options.  The Financial Edge uses a batch system to process all system transactions, so users can review batches prior to posting.  The Financial Edge has a long list of modules including GL, AR, 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, and F9 Financial Reporter. 

The product also integrates with fundraising and donor software The Raiser’s Edge, TeamRaiser, a peer-to-peer fundraising module utilizing the cloud, as well as eTapestry, Luminate CRM, and Blackbaud Analytics.  The Financial Edge is extremely scalable; with users able to purchase the modules they need immediately and add others as needed. 

Core NFP/Fund Accounting Capabilities - 5 Stars

The Financial Edge offers users a flexible chart of accounts structure, with users able to use up to 30 characters and 10 segments when setting up accounts.  The new account feature provides users with easy account setup and numerous account structure options.  The Financial Edge easily handles multiple transactions including recurring and reversing journal entries, all standard accounting transactions including AP and AR posting, and Fixed Asset entries.  The Financial Edge includes excellent budgeting capability with standard budget features offering the ability to create a new budget based on a previously created budget scenario.  Budgets can be created by fiscal year and period range as needed. 

The Advanced Budget Management module provides more in-depth budget capability, including the ability to create budgets containing different years, time periods, or budget scenarios for quick on-screen display or reporting.   Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge add-on module is a comprehensive donor management module that can be used as a standalone product as well as being integrated with the financial system.  The Raiser’s Edge offers comprehensive donor management, including donor tracking, annual appeal processing, easy gift entry, wealthy screening, and integrated email marketing. 

Blackbaud’s Project, Grant, & Endowment Management module allows the user to manage multiple grants and funds, tracking all related transactions, including income and expenses.  Automatic fund balancing ensures that all funds are in balance at all times.  The Financial Edge allows users to manage multiple year-end closings, and the product contains excellent audit trail functionality, recording all transaction entered into the system. 

The Accounts Payable for Bill Paying feature will process payments via EFT.  All statements and invoices can be emailed to vendors and donors, and with the hosted solution, personnel can access the system from anywhere. 

Management Features - 5 Stars

Custom dashboards can be created easily in The Financial Edge, with a list of panes available from which to choose. Users are able to edit or update existing dashboards as well.  All dashboards created offer drill-down capability.  The budget tools feature is a wizard that guides users through all available budgeting options, assisting users with choosing the most appropriate option. The budget scenario feature mentioned earlier allows users to create various what-if scenarios that may arise, even creating separate budgets for every system account.  User security is multi-level, with users given system access at one of three levels; project, function, or module.  Users can also be assigned to a group, or given supervisor rights. 

Users are provided with a warning if a transaction will put a program or fund over budget, and the AR module tracks all past due activity.  The Raiser’s Edge provides additional account tracking for donations and pledges, with the system able to easily handle multiple campaigns while establishing donor levels for easier tracking.  The Paper-Save module provides system users with the ability to store documents electronically.   

Financial Statements & Reporting - 5 Stars

The Financial Edge contains excellent reporting options, with over 100 standard reports offered.  All standard reports can be customized as needed, or users can opt to utilize either Crystal Reports or F9 Financial Reporter for more in-depth customization.  System reports are accessible by clicking on a specific category to view the available reports.  The Financial Edge produces nonprofit specific reports such as FASB 117 and GASB 34, with all system reports exported to a variety of formats, including Excel, FoxPro, Microsoft Word, CSV, Text, Rich Text, and HTML. 

Integration & Import/Export - 5 Stars

Using the Export function, The Financial Edge allows users to export system data including budget data, grants, projects, and system transactions.  Data can be exported in a variety of formats including Excel, Microsoft Word, CSV, Lotus 123, and Microsoft Access.  All Blackbaud products are designed to integrate, with the product offering integration with other third party applications available through Blackbaud as well.  Using the hosted solution, accountants can access the system remotely with the use of a login and password. 

Help/Support - 5 Stars

The product contains excellent help functionality throughout.  A user login provides access to the Knowledgebase, How-to documentation, Forums, and FAQs, as well as all available software downloads and blogs.  Users can choose to access support online via the toll-free number. Various training options are available, including both online and classroom training, as well as various system tutorials

Summary & Pricing

The Financial Edge starts at $2,995 for a 3-user on-premise system.  Online subscription pricing starts at $299 per user per month, with pricing for both versions depending on the number of modules purchased.  With its scalable structure and more flexible pricing options, The Financial Edge can be a useful asset to organizations of all sizes. 

Best Fit: The Financial Edge, from Blackbaud is well suited for small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations, NGO’s, and government entities.  An excellent choice for those needing comprehensive donor and grant management functionality, The Financial Edge can be easily scaled up or down, depending on the needs of the organization. 

Strengths

  • More flexible pricing structure
  • Long list of available modules and third-party applications
  • Excellent industry specific options available
  • Scalable and customizable
  • Excellent budgeting capability

Potential Limitations

  • Not well-suited to very small nonprofits

2014 Overall Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

 

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