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Touchstone Group chosen to implement real-time finance reporting system to aid 35,000 members and key budget holders


Garden Organic, the UK’s leading charity for organic growing and living – previously known as Henry Doubleday Research Association (HDRA) – has placed an order with business software solutions and consultancy service provider, Touchstone Group, to implement Microsoft Dynamics GP to manage the financial accounting and management reporting requirements for its 40,000 members who include farmers, gardening enthusiasts and those seeking an organic lifestyle.

Garden Organic, a registered charity, is Europe’s largest organic membership organisation dedicated to researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food. The charity runs three beautiful demonstration gardens in Warwickshire, Kent and Essex and works to improve commercial and domestic organic growing throughout Britain through research, development information and advice. The charity also runs a highly successful education programme that has over 10% of all schools in the UK signed up to it along with an international programme, which works with organisations abroad to develop and promote organic practices of benefit to small scale farmers.

The charity was formerly running a Sage Line 100 system, which was in need of upgrading to provide greater flexibility and better management information. Ed Hart, Financial Director, Garden Organic, comments, “We needed a system to provide timely and accurate management information that budget holders and management could access with ease and where we could manage and design our own reporting.” Hart continues, “We also wanted a financial management system which would enable us to forecast accurately where the business will be in the future and which we could incorporate into our strategic thinking.”

Garden Organic looked to Touchstone Group to implement and support Microsoft Dynamics GP so that it would provide the flexibility of reporting and detailed analysis that Garden Organic needed for its business.

Hart adds, “The system has ‘gone-live’ and we are starting to enjoy the benefits such as a clear reduction in our reporting timescales. Also, where we were using Excel spreadsheets, these are now generated at the touch of a button directly from the Microsoft system, saving us valuable man-hours”

Hart concludes, “We believe the system will save the equivalent of one full person. This means we now have the time to discuss in more detail with our budget holders so we get to understand their needs and requirements better. We will also have a lot more time to be proactive.”

Garden Organic celebrates it 50th anniversary in 2008 and is currently engaged in large-scale trials with DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) as well as working on programmes and initiatives on an international basis in Cuba and Afghanistan.

Adrian McNay, Group Board Director, Touchstone Group, comments, “This is a forward-thinking organisation looking to empower its budget holders with better financial management information. With over 35,000 members, this is clearly a rapidly growing charity, which will benefit farmers and organic gardeners alike, both in the UK and internationally and we are delighted to be supporting them.”

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