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National Alliance on Mental Illness streamlines budget process

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To manage its resources better and plan for the future, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has moved its finance department to a new cloud-based budgeting, planning and forecasting system. NAMI implemented software from Vena Solutions, which combines Excel with enterprise-grade features like version control, workflow automation and a central cloud database. 

The not-for-profit organization, located in Arlington, Va., is a large grassroots mental health advocacy group. Like many organizations, NAMI was struggling to complete its budget with the transparency and granular insights needed to produce accurate forecasts and make critical business decisions. Its existing budgeting software required managing more than 70 spreadsheets across 30 users and “just wasn't keeping up,” according to NAMI CFO David Levy.  

Levy used to send out 10 Excel template files to budget managers, each with tabs for up to five different programs. Besides version control and accountability issues, the process meant he had to manually upload all the templates into his previous software and then back into Excel for reporting and analysis. 

The new technology allowed NAMI to streamline the process and reduce errors, with greater collaboration and the ability to drill down into the data—all without leaving the familiar Excel environment, Vena Solutions reports. 

Levy says, “When we were creating the budget, I was spending about 80 percent of my time uploading numbers and only about 20 percent of my time actually analyzing those numbers. Now, the time spend has actually flipped. The power of Vena is what is behind the Excel spreadsheet. To the average user, they’re using Excel the way they used to. For me it was really a game changer.”

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