Microsoft FRx and Microsoft ForecasterREVIEWER: Sue Rathbun, CFO of Sabine Valley Center.

BACKGROUND: Sabine Valley Center is a comprehensive community health resource serving several counties throughout northeastern Texas. As an agency of the state, Sabine Valley Center receives grants and state and federal government funding to sustain a wide range of mental health, mental retardation and substance abuse services.

PLATFORMS: Dell Power Edge Server and Windows 2000 Server operating system.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Sabine Valley Center has a dispersed network of clinics, spanning more than 120 miles, which makes the budgeting, planning and financial reporting processes a challenge. We must produce budgets for each of our programs, from substance abuse counseling to vocational workshops. When our spreadsheet expert who was responsible for our annual budgeting process suddenly left the company, I knew we were in serious trouble and needed a new budgeting system. The spreadsheet-driven budgeting system was complex because the individual had linked multiple spreadsheets and updated them with changes sent via e-mail from program managers. Then, he rolled up the 100-plus cost centers to produce a program and company-wide budgets. It made more sense for us to implement a new automated and consistent budgeting application such as Microsoft Forecaster than to try to learn the intricacies of the linked spreadsheets.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Microsoft FRx and Microsoft Forecaster have provided us significant time and cost savings and improved the workflow of our financial management process. With Microsoft Forecaster, we are no longer forced to rely on a spreadsheet guru to manage our budget. I can manage the budgeting, planning and forecasting process while our cost accountant can focus on cost accounting issues 100 percent of the time. The benefits of using FRx Software solutions go beyond time and cost savings because Microsoft FRx and Microsoft Forecaster take the mystery and complexity out of financial management and empower my staff and me to be more accountable. My team is more independent and involved because they can actually see where the numbers are coming from. Instead of sifting through dozens of linked spreadsheets or needing to import budget data, with FRx Software's financial analytic solutions available, my team and I have a more self-service financial management process giving us added confidence in the numbers.

STRENGTHS: Because Microsoft FRx and Microsoft Forecaster provide us with the most accurate and timely financial reports available, our team at Sabine Valley Center has a clear financial picture at any given moment enabling the center to maximize its service offerings to the community.

WEAKNESSES: Microsoft Forecaster's line item detail provides individuals the ability to more accurately plan for expenditures during the year; however, a user cannot open more than one account's line item detail at a time. When printing the input screen, this proves to be limiting. With Microsoft FRx, though the application provides deep insight into our business, we can only pull data from the general ledger system.

SELECTION CRITERIA: I read about Microsoft FRx and Microsoft Forecaster in a publication I follow and was delighted to hear both applications had a direct integration with our general ledger software from Best Software. We felt because our needs were met, we didn't need to evaluate anything further.

DELIVERABLES: My team and I use Microsoft FRx to produce the company's monthly statement of operations reports. Those reports reflect the individual and consolidated performance of each of our programs.

VENDOR SUPPORT: After a half-day training class from an FRx Software consultant, my team and I used the application's drag-and-drop features to set up reporting trees to reflect the organization's program cost centers.

DOCUMENTATION: With the small amount of training I received on site, I relied heavily on the documentation and was able to run the program, make changes and set up new versions.

Microsoft FRx & Microsoft Forecaster
FRx Software - A Microsoft Company
4700 South Syracuse Parkway
Suite 150
Denver, CO 80237

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