Community Living Toronto Finance Help System

Community Living Toronto

"Finance Help system presents a simple and user-friendly solution to the otherwise cumbersome process. It not only automates the end-to-end workflow and approvals, but also enables CLTO to meet its audit requirements and ensure safety of the individuals in care."

The Client

Community Living Toronto is a charitable organization in operation since 1948. It provides a wide portfolio of services to support people with intellectual disabilities through residential programs, community-based activities and employment supports, among many others. Community Living Toronto (CLTO) advocates for inclusive communities and supports the rights and choices of people living with intellectual disabilities.

The Challenge

CLTO supports the financial needs of its community members through the issuance of Petty Cash and P-cards to its staff. A paper-based process with multiple levels of approval was used to submit requests to the Finance department for requesting the creation of new accounts and closure or change of existing accounts. This process was challenging due to the staff turnover and reporting changes and introduced an unnecessary delay in time-sensitive situations for individuals who were already in a vulnerable situation. A solution was needed to automate and streamline the process to achieve efficiencies and establish an open channel of communication with the Finance department to accomplish the approval of requests in a timely manner.

The Solution

An automated form and workflow were designed using tools available in the existing Microsoft 365 platform already in use by the organization. A PowerApps form presents a simple interface to capture the necessary information to process a Petty Cash or P-card request. A Power Automate workflow, triggered by the creation of a new request, initiates the approval process. This proceeds sequentially up the approval chain of command for the requestor to a final review stage by the Finance department.

Information regarding reporting trees is captured through a script that runs overnight against Azure Active Directory to record staff information in SharePoint Online, thereby ensuring timely execution of workflow actions and accommodating any reporting changes in AAD. A simple dashboard in SharePoint Online provides the current status for each request so that staff are alerted when their requests are fulfilled.

The Result

The system was launched in April 2020 just in time to provide support to staff overwhelmed by COVID-19 and the accompanying lockdown. The online form and approval workflow immediately provided relief to staff working remotely, who were able to submit and obtain approval for critically needed resources on behalf of the CLTO community very quickly and effectively. The Finance department was able to act with certainty after receiving the appropriate approvals from managers in user-friendly notifications via email.

The system also integrated various business rules with respect to delayed approvals, with automated reminders sent to the appropriate person causing the delay.

Community Living Toronto was able to respond very quickly to what could have been a very challenging situation brought about with the advent of COVID-19. In this scenario, thankfully, timing was everything!