Case study

Worldwide Financial Management Solution Roll-Out for International Alert

Discover how International Alert’s move to Microsoft’s all-in-one financial management solution is helping their organisation to increase efficiency and productivity.

Project summary

International deployment across country offices

Multi-currency capability and flexibility for diverse users

Unified Microsoft platform with familiar user interface

Training and engagement with international user base

Flexible, scalable solution to support process innovation


Cloud migration to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

For over 30 years, the charity International Alert has been working to build positive peace and reduce violence, working across conflict lines and with all parties to conflicts. Experienced and respected, International Alert has a proud track record of achieving change in fragile and conflict-affected countries and territories.

The charity’s vision is that people and their societies can resolve conflicts without violence, working together to build sustainable and inclusive peace. Its peacebuilding approaches and methods are varied and diverse, but they all ultimately work to ensure that people are safe from harm, have access to law and justice, are included in the political decisions that affect them, have access to better economic opportunities, and enjoy better livelihoods.

With 15 offices worldwide, International Alert works on almost every continent, with current projects in 21 countries including Afghanistan, Lebanon, Nepal, the Philippines and Ukraine.

The challenge:

Rapid migration and international deployment

International Alert had an established finance system in place. They were keen to migrate to the cloud to deliver efficiencies and scalability for their worldwide team and to cut down on paperwork and manual processing. Initially they wanted to migrate their existing on-premise solution to the cloud. In discussion with Xpedition, they recognised that for a lower cost, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central in the cloud could deliver more functionality and future scalability, thus enhancing the overall value proposition for their business case even against competition from other solutions.

With offices of different sizes around the world, International Alert doesn’t always have finance specialists to operate the system. Usability and acceptance of a new solution were key challenges and potential risks. A familiar Microsoft interface would make it easier for colleagues to adapt to the new system.

“Xpedition really understood what we wanted as a charitable organisation with their vast experience in this sector. They aligned their services and the way they talked about the solution to our specific needs and organisational culture. We had great respect for their team’s experience implementing this type of project in the Not for Profit sector and confidence in their ability to transition us from our old system to the Microsoft cloud.”

Ronald Kansere, Finance Manager, International Alert

The timescales for the project were tight, because there was a single opportunity for user training at a planned conference in The Hague. International Alert wanted face-to-face training for staff from all its offices. Getting every country up to speed with Business Central was a critical dependency and the only time users could gather for training in person was at the conference. Xpedition and International Alert had to work fast and efficiently to plan and implement the solution before the deadline.

Xpedition was selected to deploy International Alert’s new finance system from four short-listed suppliers.

“We particularly appreciated the Xpedition team’s honest and collaborative approach. They told us clearly what we could and couldn’t achieve and found ways to move things forward so we could hit our deadline and meet our objectives.”

Ronald Kansere, Finance Manager, International Alert

The solution:

Business Central configured out-of-the-box to match exact requirements

The project was completed within three months, in time to meet the deadline for training at the conference. Xpedition’s consultants worked closely with International Alert’s finance team, led by Ronald Kansere, at their London office. We ran a delivery workshop then used the findings to develop and present a design document. This was refined and approved by the client so our team could begin configuration.

“We had a strong and established relationship with our Xpedition account manager. The lead consultant selected to work with us was also an excellent fit, both in skills and approach. He really got to grips with our pain points and understood our unique organisational needs. All the Xpedition people we worked with were knowledgeable and good communicators, including the helpdesk.”

Ronald Kansere, Finance Manager, International Alert

With the tight timescales and diverse user base, International Alert wanted to replace its current functionality in the first phase of the project. Once Business Central was bedded in and in everyday use, they would move on to add new capabilities and improve efficiencies.

Multi-currency processing and reporting was a key requirement, because of International Alert’s global fundraising and peacebuilding work. Xpedition configured Business Central to integrate with exchange rate sources on a weekly basis. Country offices have other local variants in processes and finance reporting: Business Central was configured to accommodate these. For example, different report formats are used in different countries.

Because Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central has extensive out-of-the-box features, it required only limited configuration to deliver the first phase of functionality for International Alert. Xpedition completed configuration and deployment ahead of the conference. Our consultants attended the event and were able to train International Alert’s users from every office so they could start using the new system immediately.

The results:

A cost-effective, scalable, international cloud finance platform

International Alert now has a Financial Management solution in the cloud that delivers all the international and local finance functions it needs at a lower cost than the previous on-premise solution. With no more hardware, upgrades and standard integration with the likes of Microsoft Office 365, the value proposition was just too good to miss out on.

As part of the Microsoft family of solutions, Business Central brings consistency and familiarity to users with varying levels of technology literacy and financial expertise. It’s flexible enough to accommodate their preferred ways of working while maintaining integrity and a single source of truth in one global, multi-office finance system.

The subscription model suits International Alert as they pay only for the users and level of functionality they need. For colleagues who only use basic Business Central features, there’s no need to pay for a full subscription. But if their capability and requirements change, it’s easy to add subscriptions and permissions.

“The upfront cost of deploying and operating Business Central in the cloud is much lower than for an on-premise system. We have gradually increased the numbers of licenses from roll-out in a very cost-effective way taking advantage of the charity discounts available.”

Ronald Kansere, Finance Manager, International Alert

The Business Central solution contributes to key finance objectives to cut down on paperwork, to develop a single digital system of record and to automate more processes. International Alert has also been able to give access to non-finance colleagues, which helps them improve efficiency, as they can directly input their own data. One of the next steps towards this will be uploading expenses directly through a modern app.

Having face-to-face training helped International Alert gain buy-in and instil a positive approach to the new system amongst its international team. The most confident and engaged users are already rising to the challenge of finding smarter ways to work and improving efficiency with finance data management and reporting.

“We now have a much more flexible cloud solution at a fraction of the cost of putting the old system in the cloud. With the core functionality in place, we are able to take advantage of extra features for efficiency and productivity at our own pace. Our most engaged users are keen to innovate to make the most of Business Central – we’re encouraging them to come up with new and better ways to manage our international and local finances. We are learning more about Business Central every day and planning future process automation and integrations, with Xpedition’s ongoing support when we need it.”

Ronald Kansere, Finance Manager, International Alert

“It’s very satisfying implementing this solution in partnership with International Alert. To provide an industry leading finance platform with the agility to roll-out to country offices at minimal cost is great. Having worked in the charity sector for over 30 years, we’re all too aware that value for money is key for charities and we’re proud to say we can be a part of their mission.”

Steve Georgiou, Senior Account Manager, Xpedition

About Xpedition

With 20 years’ experience as a Microsoft Solutions Partner and more than 630 Dynamics 365 projects successfully delivered, Xpedition is one of the UK’s leading and trusted Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation partners serving the charity sector.

Our Microsoft certified consultants have deep experience of implementing Dynamics 365 across a range of different charity organisations: helping ambitious organisations reimagine their digital strategies with modern cloud technologies.

To find out more about Xpedition and how Microsoft Dynamics 365 can benefit your organisation, contact one of our experts today.

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