Clark Art Institute Turns to Channel Duo for Accounting and HR Needs

(Above) Brian Kelly, President of CMS

By Hailey Lynne McKeefry

The In-House Advantage

CMS worked with the Clark Art Institute to understand the capabilities of the Sage ABRA system and to make sure it understood the needs of the museum, said Gniadek.

“Clark Art’s HR systems were completely manual and the museum wanted to make sure they automated the process and put in compliance measurements,” said Kelly.

“They also were looking for a full solution to replace their outsourced payroll in order to save money,” Kelly said. “Finally, they wanted integration between their accounting, payroll and HR systems.”

The museum needed to provide information, such as accrued time-off and paid time taken by employees, directly on employee pay stubs, another option that the external service provider demanded extra fees for.

“We found that there was a charge every time we wanted to access these sorts of features,” said Gniadek. “We did a cost/benefit analysis and it made sense for us to bring payroll in house.”

In addition, the Clark Art Institute wanted to computerize its manual HR systems and have them closely linked to the museum’s accounting system. “We considered having our human resource database customized and written for our own purposes, but the ABRA solution allowed us to avoid that,” said Gniadek. “The new system has a database and links with the payroll system so we can enter employee information in one system and it flows over to the other.”

In addition, CMS stayed on-site to train two human resource, four finance and two IT employees to use the system.

“We like to configure the software to meet client requirements first and actually get them almost to a live setting and then bring them through on-site training using their own people, own configuration and own operational procedures through the training,” said Kelly.

Finally, the HRMS solution provider converted the payroll information from the service provider into a format that could be read by the new system.

The project proved straightforward, and was finished in a matter of weeks, which is typical, said Kelly. “Our organization has been putting in employee systems for over 20 years, so there are not too many things we haven’t faced before.”

“We installed the new software in November 2004, tested it and ran it parallel with service bureau,” said Gniadek. “We cut over to our first payroll in January 2005.”

“CMS had a very thorough understanding of how our current system worked and what our objectives were,” said Gniadek. “They did a fine job of explaining how this product would meet our needs.”

Masterful Return

The new payroll and HR system paid for itself within the first year, Gniadek said.

Cost savings can be traced to cutting out redundant tasks caused by manual systems, as well as the cost of the payroll service bureau.

“There’s also the question of the cost of an employee walking out the door with the entire knowledge base in their head,” said Kelly. “When processes are manual, the knowledge is lost when someone leaves because it’s not captured by any corporate system.”

Time savings were similarly notable.

“We also managed to speed the payroll process up,” said Gniadek. “We can now complete payroll on Monday and have checks ready for Tuesday. The service provider started on Monday, and we were sometimes biting our fingernails in the hope that checks would arrive by payday on Friday.”

Working Together

JMT and CMS find these shared engagements are a win/win for themselves and their clients.

“Together, we offer a complete solution, and that’s really attractive to customers,” said Kelly. “We have helped customers see that working with two organizations has a benefit. The two components, accounting and payroll/HR, are special animals — and they each need specialized knowledge. We provide that higher level of service for client and focus on those unique business elements.”

The two companies continue to look for ways to help each other and work together.

“If I’m at a tradeshow, I’ll put up their logo,” said Kelly.

The two companies also attend each other’s user group meetings and tradeshows, and have done some co-marketing.

In addition, JMT and CMS co-sponsored a seminar for existing and potential customers about the basics of accounting and payroll/HR solutions. The class attracted ten people, said Tiso.

The secret to their success is simple — a similar corporate philosophy, complementary skill sets, and a commitment to staying in touch, said Tiso “.

Communication is really critical,” agreed Kelly. “If you want a relationship, you have to continue to talk on a regular basis.”

Both solution providers plan to continue the alliance.

“We have had such great success with this relationship that it is absolutely going to continue,” said Tiso. “And we’ll probably expand it to other customers.”

Meanwhile, the Clark Art Institute is moving ahead in mastering and extending the capabilities of its new system.

“There are things that this system can do that we haven’t taken advantage of,” said Gniadek.

“However, the system is working nicely.”

Hailey Lynne McKeefry is a freelance writer in Belmont, Calif. A partner in, she can be reached at:
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