Bridging Systems and Gaining Visibility with the Cloud

A Taft-Hartley labor management trust fund, Unite Here Health (UHH or “The Fund”), is responsible for obtaining health benefits that offer high-quality, affordable health care for its members. The Fund needs to report individually on each of its independent plan units in Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and other regions that its mergers have brought into the organization. Consequently, its accounting software has quite a lot to manage.

In late 2012, the company’s the Unite Here Health was informed by its accounting software vendor that it was discontinuing upgrades and support for its system. The UHH finance team then began to seek out an ERP solution that could meet its long-term needs.

Unite Here Health Controller Bryan Schmidt recalls that the search for the right system took about 18 months. The process of narrowing down the choices took a number of steps. It started with an internal review of what they wanted from the system. They came up with a list of 10 key items that they wanted sent to the vendors to see how the system would handle the necessary tasks and how easy it would be to use.

On that basis, the consultants they brought in were able to filter through the systems for Unite Here Health. Schmidt says to begin with, they looked at 15 to 20 systems. That was then pared down to five. They then did a full review, including demos and narrowed it down further.

At Intacct’s demo, it became clear that it was the easiest system to use. Schmidt says it is not all that surprising that it is so intuitive, as the people who developed it also developed other intuitive software solutions like QuickBooks and Quicken.

After selecting Intacct as the solution of choice, they converted their system over in 2014. Since then, United Here Health has benefitted from far greater efficiency as a result of bridged together systems that work seamlessly and access to data in real time.

“What we used to do was print out financials and mail out or email spreadsheets,” Schmidt recalls. That was a laborious and time-consuming process that also limited the updates to end of the month reports. “We couldn’t run any reports to know what’s happening today,” he says. In addition to the lack of visibility for events happening during the middle of the month as they occurred, there was a lack of integration because no systems were connected to each other.

Improved efficiency visibility with the cloud

Now they don’t even need to print out reports at all. Managers can generate their own whenever they want to. Each manager has access to a dashboard that is unique to show the particular data they need when they need it. They are also able to run metrics where they couldn’t run them before.

They are able to build bridges to other systems in ways they didn’t envision several years back. This is one way the system capitalizes on the power of cloud computing. Being in the cloud is also an advantage during power outages or lost internet connections at the office location. Schmidt appreciates the possibility of packing up a laptop to go anywhere with Wi-Fi to get back on the system and log in.

It also helps that Intacct is so reliable as a cloud service. In the time they’ve used it, Schmidt says, it has gone down very rarely and very briefly. They run updates over the weekend so as to minimize any disruptions to work. That’s a welcome change from the old system that had to be shut down for a day and a half for updates.

This improved efficiency translates in “soft cost savings.” Though he wouldn’t want to put a set dollar figure on it, Schmidt estimates that it amounts to a 1 to 2 percent collective savings with saved time that can be applied to other areas.

He expects that could improve over time as the system makes improvement. While he concedes that “no system is perfect,” Schmidt says that “the good news is that every six months there are upgrades in the system.” He can not only provide feedback but check if other customers have remarked on the same features and then watch to see if those are addressed in the next upgrade.