Hospitality & Entertainment

Santa Clara County Fairgrounds Management Corporation

“Finer Fairground Management″

  • Challenge

    Multiple systems delayed closing and reporting

  • Solution

    Single ERP system with automated requisition and financial reporting

  • Results

    Executive Management and Board receive reports in record time

The first Santa Clara County Fair was held in 1941, when the newly formed fair authority bought a 160-acre ranch, erected tents, and laid out a horse-racing track. Today, the Santa Clara County Fair Management Corporation (SCCFMC) oversees the same real estate, expanded to include seven major buildings, 60 acres of landscaped grounds, and parking for 6,000 vehicles. The fairgrounds hosts a permanent off-track wagering facility and leases its facilities for shows, concerts, weddings and weekend festivals.
Behind the folksy, fun-loving façade is a serious nonprofit organization, accountable to the County Supervisors. For a long time, the group used spreadsheets and manual processes for bookkeeping—and ran into predictable problems. A reorganization focused on adopting a professional-quality financial system. Today the fair is a thriving, well-controlled enterprise based on Sage MAS 90 ERP software.
Blue-Ribbon Operations“We started out with just the General Ledger module in Sage MAS 90, and expanded module by module,” explains Jan Shriner, corporate controller. “Now we depend on Sage MAS 90 for everything from balancing bank statements to job costing and sophisticated analyses. If we didn’t have Sage MAS 90, I’d have to hire a staff of at least eight people to do all the work.”
Before implementing Sage MAS 90, the SCCFMC never knew which operations were making money. The Job Cost module solved that problem. “Countless elements go into a single job— rental of the grounds, rental of tables, chairs and stages, and the labor to put all of that equipment in place,” Shriner notes. “We must track janitorial and cleanup services during and after events, operate the parking systems, install telephones and obtain permits from various county agencies. These vary with every client. In addition, we have longterm lessees with payables that change on a monthly basis. Job Cost pulls expenses together and assigns them to each of our four divisions, then to specific departments and job numbers. It’s very intense.
“Job Cost integrates with the TimeCard module too, so we can pinpoint both hard and soft costs for every event,” she continues. “Before, it was very difficult to determine hard costs, so we often underbilled. The enhanced recordkeeping provided by Job Cost and TimeCard has allowed us to operate much more effectively.”
Rapid Requisitions
The CEO of SCCFMC must approve all purchases. So the SCCFMC’s reseller developed a Web-based requisition system for Sage MAS 90 using the Visual Integrator module. The software submits requisitions through e-mail, delivers them to the appropriate person for approval, and converts them into purchase orders.
“The great thing is that the PO is only populated after approval,” Shriner explains. “Until then, we are not committed. As a result, we’re safeguarded against purchase orders going out the door without authorization. This feature alone is saving us a minimum of 15 hours every week and thousands of dollars in unauthorized purchases.”
Automated Payables and ReportsThe Accounts Payable module has significantly streamlined operations. “One of our biggest efficiencies came with automated check writing,” says Shriner. “We have several different bank accounts, and the old tractor checks took forever. Today we cut laser checks using Sage MAS 90, saving the work of several people.
”Shriner used to spend two days a month preparing reports for the County Supervisors. With Sage MAS 90, the same report takes a couple of minutes. The biweekly payroll reports that used to require three days a month can now be done with a click of the mouse. “The integrative qualities between modules in MAS 90 and the ability to export data to spreadsheets has given us the ability to produce wonderful high-end financial quarterly reports,” she says.
She also produces cash comparison reports and a balance sheet showing all supporting details for payables in each division, with data extracted automatically from Sage MAS 90. Line item details go into a 30-page report, with data summarized on a single sheet for supervisors, and comparisons calculated for actuals to budget and the current year to previous years.
“Sage MAS 90 gives us the high-level tools we need to run an organization this size,” says Shriner. “It’s easy to use, yet robust enough to deliver powerful reports, and has given us an end-to-end system to manage our entire enterprise.”