Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 31 seconds

MicroEdge's FIMS (Financial Information Management System) is a bit
different from most of the other fund accounting systems in that is truly a
system for managing funds. Specifically, FIMS is made for use by community organizations that award grants to agencies. In fact, according to
MicroEdge, the company supplies the lion's share of this market segment with something north of 85% market share.

If you are an organization that manages multiple sources of funds and
allocates those funds to multiple grant organizations, then it's likely you
are already be familiar with FIMS. And if you aren't familiar with FIMS,
you should be looking at it.

FIMS is a server based application, generally installed on a Microsoft
server. It can be run on a Novel server, though demand for it has declined
over the last few years. The system is used on Windows PCs connected to the
server's network. Like most all the other fund accounting systems I've
seen, this one also needs some kind of remote access service like Citrix in
order to allow remote users to access the application.

Some organizations might opt for the company's hosted system, called
Hostnet. MicroEdge doesn't publish pricing so I can't comment on whether
this is an economical plan, but if all else is equal, outsourcing the
technical duties to experts is a good thing. It means that all connections
are remote and that users can be located anywhere they can get an Internet
connection.

I was struck with the simplistic look of the user interface. It isn't a bad
design, but is very Spartan. Even so, (or maybe because of the design) I
found it easy to understand and consistent from screen to screen.

In Use

The Profile Module holds information about users, contributors, and
grantees. It is the central storage for much of the activity that takes
place in FIMS, and can be considered a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager).

It is used to record information about people and organizations. The main
screen begins with a data grid that includes extensive search functionality,
which makes a lot of sense. You can either add a new entry or search for
one that's already there. In the demo, the search was very fast and brought
up the contact we searched for immediately.


Many of the other functions, like funds and organizations start with a data
grid identical to the Profile page. This consistency is good, and lets
users become very familiar with using the program's functions. I found that
once I was accustomed to using the search and select features in the Profile
page, those same skills applied to the other pages.

Once the requested record is found, the screens show a more graphical look
and present a variety of functions available for that particular entity.
This design is a good way to handle differences in data, showing functions
that apply to funds when viewing a fund, and functions for constituents when
viewing a constituent. But at the same time, not changing the look of the
screen helps reinforce users' familiarity.

Reporting is fast and flexible. I found a wide variety of predefined
reports available and was able to use any of them as the basis for designing
a report that delivered the specific information I needed. The reports are
not interactive, in that it is not possible to click a line item and drill
into the detail that made up the line. Finding the detail requires looking
at the data grid page for the account itself. From there, I was able to
find the transactions that made up the account balance.

Overview

MicroEdge's FIMS is designed to support a special sector of the nonprofit
market; the community foundation, and it has the chops to handle the needs
of these organizations well. The program has a consistent,
easy-to-understand interface that will help users get up to speed quickly
and build understanding across the functions. MicroEdge does not publish
its pricing, but says that it works with each customer individually to
recommend the appropriate components for the size and function of the
organization.

Advantages
Consistent interface means fast learning
Created to support the needs of community funding organizations
Flexible reporting

Disadvantages
Reports do not support live drill-down to detail
Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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