For the finance team at Partners in Health—a global nonprofit supporting healthcare in developing countries—having 24/7 access to up-to-date budget data is critical. The team must always be able to determine where to focus their resources so they can enable quick responses to changing conditions in the field.
But with 150 budget contributors spread across 10 developing countries, strategic planning with agility was hard to accomplish before Vena.
“We’d been working with Excel-based budgets for a long time. It was all very manual,” says Brendan Eger, Associate Director of Information Systems and Analytics at Partners in Health. “There was a ton of emailing files back and forth, lots of versioning, lots of consolidating. Our financial analysts would spend hours collecting templates and validating data for the countries they were supporting.”
Simple consolidations would take several days in some cases, while budget updates would take an entire month to roll out. Brendan says it was difficult for finance to forecast with agility and to support important healthcare programs with confident, data-driven planning.
“It was such a painful, tedious process,” he says. “There were so many other things that our people needed to work on.”
Brendan was in the field in Sierra Leone when he was brought in to evaluate Vena in October 2017. He knew he needed a planning tool that could integrate with multiple data systems, but still remain easy to use. After all, budget owners across the organization were already so comfortable with Excel. Brendan thought an unfamiliar software tool would lead to low user adoption—and that’s why he saw so much value in Vena’s native Excel interface.
“We wanted to integrate our grant budgets with our general budgets, which we thought would be really complicated,” he says. “But Vena turned around a fantastic proof of concept that really blew us away. It was nice to see a software that’s so simple for users.”
Another key requirement was the ability to work offline because Partners in Health operates in areas where the internet connection is precarious at best. To ensure budget owners always have the freedom to forecast confidently, Vena set up nightly data loads from all of Partners in Health’s source systems. Now, if the internet goes down, finance leaders are still working with the most up-to-date data available.
“We set up some tests with the Vena team, made sure connectivity was good, and everything went really well,” says Brendan. “We knew this would be a great product and a great team to move forward with.”
Partners in Health's budget owners haven’t had to worry about consolidating data manually since teaming up with Vena. Now they have the time to focus on what really matters—delivering world-class healthcare support to the communities that need it most.
Updating budgets for a more accurate financial outlook used to take an entire month to complete. Now it only takes one or two days. And instead of having to sift through 150 individual spreadsheets, Brendan always has reliable numbers at his fingertips thanks to Vena’s seamless integrations with all of Partners in Health’s data sources.
“We’re getting better data into our templates, and we have much more control within those templates as well,” he says. “Now we’re able to focus on strategic issues that are more important. Vena has allowed us to improve the speed and accuracy of everything we do for budgeting.”
But the most significant benefit from Vena has been a more engaged role for program staff in the communities on the ground where Partners in Health operates. Vena’s easy-to-use planning platform has enabled greater cross-functional collaboration—ultimately empowering budget owners to participate in strategic planning.
“We really need our program managers to be financially literate, because they all want visibility and ownership of their budgets,” says Brendan. “With Vena, we’ve been able to give them that visibility, so now they can provide management with that extra layer of validation we just didn’t have before. It’s been really amazing!”