New accounting software goes live at all parishes in Diocese of Charlotte
CHARLOTTE — Every parish in the diocese is now using a common accounting system to streamline financial reporting and make it easier for parish staffs to work together and with the diocesan Finance Office.
All 91 parishes and parish schools went live with ParishSOFT software July 1 following nine months of collaboration, planning and training.
The new system is web-based – making it accessible across the diocese for pastors, business managers, finance council members and parish administrative staff – and creates a common financial reporting process to save everyone time and money. The common program also means that parish staffs can reach out to help each other when needed.
Cheryl Eckert, business manager at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Charlotte, has been using the ParishSOFT software for the past few months.
The benefits as she sees them? The information is more secure, it is easy to access, and it sets up continuity of reporting amongst all parishes.
"We can all help each other out," Eckert said. "I called a member of our finance council who can get on the program to see exactly how I have set things up. I have called the diocese, business managers at other parishes, and people have called me. We are all on the same page."
Each parish will pay a monthly fee based on its number of registered households. That fee covers an unlimited number of users, all technical support, database hosting, backups and software updates. The diocese will pay an annual subscription fee of $3,360 for the ParishSOFT software.
Representatives from 20 parishes and schools, along with diocesan staff, formed a task force to examine ways to further improve their accounting procedures and, ultimately, provide greater transparency to finance councils and parishioners.
Leading the task force was Bill Weldon, chief financial officer for the Diocese of Charlotte, who was quick to credit the group's collaborative effort and objectivity.
"We came together without any preconceived ideas about accounting software providers," Weldon said. "Instead, our parish and school staff considered which systems are the most user-friendly while providing the best internal controls, and which would help us realign our reporting to mirror the activities of the Church in ways that secular accounting systems cannot."
As with any major overhaul in software, Eckert said, change can be challenging.
"We are still experiencing some of the pains of learning from mistakes, but I can see that all of the work will pay off."
-- SueAnn Howell, staff writer
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