Based in Arlington, VA, Diplomatic Language Services (DLS) is a leading language services provider. Their customers include the federal government, military, and corporate and private clientele. From language and cultural education to translation, interpretation, and curriculum development, the goal of DLS is to unite people through language and exceed all customer expectations.
Doing all this requires smooth internal operations and efficient accounting to power DLS initiatives. With Accounting Seed, DLS filled a critical missing piece of their Salesforce Platform(c). This not only helped them function more fluidly but also deliver a seamless customer experience.
Connection Through Language
Since 1985, DLS has delivered language learning services to a variety of organizations. Currently, DLS offers training in over 85 languages, for all of which they create personalized training curriculums.
In addition to serving multiple private companies, DLS is a federal contractor, providing mission-critical language services to several key agencies. Some of their biggest and most recognizable clients include the Department of Defense (DOD), the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and even the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA)! No matter the client, language, or scope of service, the mission is the same: provide a flexible, effective learning experience for the customer. The belief that “language matters” is the cornerstone of the DLS approach. It’s what guides their staff in engaging their customers with a tailored method that emphasizes engagement, approachability, and accessibility.
Over the past three decades, DLS has grown to more than 300 employees, with over 400 students at any given time. Behind the passion and language skills is the technology organizing and managing these classes. This is where Salesforce and Accounting Seed comes in.
The Ultimate Platform
Like many companies, DLS runs on data and information. With all the customers, prices, course details, language criteria, and other details, keeping this information centralized is critical. DLS President Chris Bellas noted that having this information easily accessible and accurate is quintessential to functioning as a contractor:
“Before, we were transferring data back-and-forth between different systems using Excel spreadsheets, which creates a potential for errors. At the same time, we need to be constantly audit-ready. Therefore, having everything in one system and being able to see the audit trail of every activity as it’s performed in real-time, and for everybody to have visibility on that data, as well as knowing that all that information is going to be there and to be correct, is a huge relief.”
Having readily available data at hand was also important for a great customer experience.
“Very often we’d get a call on Friday afternoon and a class needed to be set up by Monday morning. We want to create a very positive, easy, and simple experience for the customer. But, on the backend, it’s a checklist of 100 different things that need to get done, and so many of those are financial in nature. The entire quote-to-cash process within Salesforce really helped us enormously,” said Bellas.
Instead of retrieving information from one solution or another, Salesforce stores it all. DLS then uses this information to complete many processes that enable less strain on staff and customers. Salesforce improved virtually all essential processes, in particular, financial management through Accounting Seed.
Filling the Missing Piece
With the abundance of classes, services, and federal requirements, it’s no surprise that DLS needed to upgrade their accounting system. Originally relying on QuickBooks and an array of supplementing Excel sheets, there was simply too much work to be done accurately and effectively. Accounting errors and delays were common with the old system. Given the unique nature of DLS’ operating structure, the financial system was overstretched. To fully realize the vision of customer-focused efficiency service, DLS needed more flexibility. They also needed a way to execute their financials all within Salesforce.
After researching several options, Accounting Seed stood out most to the DLS team. Being fully native to the Salesforce ecosystem, Accounting Seed brought their entire financial management onto Salesforce. From there, all the problems of their previous system dissipated. Additionally, they vastly improved their entire financial management lifecycle. According to Bellas:
“We’ve seen major efficiency improvements across all of our accounting processes throughout our monthly accounting cycle. This has allowed us to close each month an entire week earlier than before. In our invoicing process alone, simply by eliminating all of that Excel transfer between systems, we saw a 75% reduction in the time that it took to record all the invoices and get them sent out to customers.”
Accounting Seed Provides Flexibility
Accounting Seed’s flexibility was revolutionary to DLS’ entire Salesforce org. DLS needed their accounting to support their language services and work within their already highly customized Salesforce system. Additionally, they had to meet the government-mandated Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) regulations. All of this required a native accounting system that was configurable and customizable to meet their needs. Many of the competitor accounting apps fell short, and Accounting Seed checked every box:
“We compared the flexibility of every accounting solution option and none of them had the flexibility that Accounting Seed offered. It just felt like such an obvious choice when you can really look into the architecture of the package and just see that this is really an elegant solution,” said Bellas.
Accounting Seed’s flexibility was also instrumental in shifting the entire DLS organization to fully virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic without skipping a beat.
“In March 2020, we decided to move all of our classes online,” said Bellas. “We relied on our online timekeeping system based on the Accounting Seed platform and all the features like billing and electronic payments electronically to continue without delaying or jeopardizing customers and staff.”
Accounting Seed Enhances The Customer Experience
Instead of focusing on resolving problems with the accounting system, the DLS team was able to focus on proactively improving the customer experience. In the past, they always needed to focus on the back end first. Bellas reported that it felt like a constant struggle monitoring invoicing and cash flow issues. Accounting Seed made it so much easier for them to focus on the front end of their business instead of worrying about problems on the back end.
“With our previous accounting systems, I always heard only about accounting problems. Now, I’m only hearing out about accounting successes. It’s just so much easier for me personally to be able to do approvals from my phone and see all of the information within one system,” said Bellas.
Flexibility wasn’t the only thing DLS needed. They required a structured accounting system that was reliable, fast, and able to perform accounting functions relevant to their specific processes. Bellas noted that as a contractor there are certain functions that simply make more sense and are required, but there is no specific accounting system for their line of work. Two features, in particular, are especially vital for DLS, the project accounting function and the timesheet module which they customized for optimal use in DCAA compliance.
Both of these accounting functions are used to set up, document, and monitor the accounting of uniquely created one-on-one language training classes. No matter what type of contract or timeline, Accounting Seed is able to manage them easily. And part of this has to do with the high-level automation the system provides. Bellas reports that these automations make the entire accounting process easier, more accurate, and more timely.
“We’ve seen so many of our processes automated to the point where most things that I need to do is pull up my phone face ID, do two clicks, and then I go on with my day. For me, it’s a dream!”
This is critical for prioritizing customer engagement and being nimble in the face of government compliance and contract bids.
A Government Contractor’s Accounting Solution
Ultimately, DLS didn’t just need an accounting system or even just a Salesforce accounting system. They needed a solution to keep their financial reporting and management compliant with DCAA requirements. They also needed an accounting system that could help them effectively bid on federal contracts to secure more work. In addition to streamlined accounting, Bellas related that this was a mission-critical need.
“DCAA Cost Accounting compliance was a very important part of why we chose Accounting Seed. We really needed a system that could take into account all of those steps that go into uniquely setting up an attractive one-on-one language training class no matter what type of contract no matter what type of timeline we’re dealing with.”
Clear Cloud One
To ensure that Accounting Seed was configured to fully support DCAA compliance, Accounting Seed partnered with Mike Bechara of Clear Cloud One to spearhead implementation. Clear Cloud One is a Salesforce solutions integrator experienced at delivering customizations for multiple Salesforce-based products. One of their leading specialties is financial compliance, especially for federal contractors.
“DCAA Compliance is quite important for government contractors such as DLS,” Bechara explained. “At Clear Cloud One we have several staff members who were experienced in defense contracting. They are responsible for auditing for government compliance in other companies. We were able to leverage all this experience towards making their accounting platform be 100% compliant with all the requirements.”
Together, Clear Cloud One and Accounting Seed worked to deliver a smooth integration. Once completed, DLS was not only DCAA compliant but further empowered to enhance how they bid for new contracts. This is due to both Accounting Seed’s functionality and how the data is controlled and synced with Salesforce. All the data is transparent, accurate, and automated in a way that DLS can harness much more effectively. This is highly valuable when analyzing company finances to put in an effective bid. DLS Accounting Manager Shruti Shrestha explains below:
“With Accounting Seed’s financial cubes, we can create multiple budget versions based on different assumptions to see how they affect our pricing and bottom line. This has helped us develop pricing methodologies that are both DCAA compliant and effective at reducing our financial risk.”
A Single Source of Truth
Clear Cloud One synced Accounting Seed’s new customizations with the existing DLS customizations on Salesforce. They created a cohesive system that eliminated strain and errors to help further the vision of a customer-first organization.
“Being able to focus on our core mission makes every day at work just so much more of a joy.” – Chris Bellas, DLS President
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