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Commerce Manager provides smooth sailing—in more ways than one

Nelnet's Commerce Manager provides security and simplicity to financial managers
University Business, Nov 2011

Suzanne J. Kallighan was determined to celebrate her 40th birthday without worrying about work. But before the University of Richmond associate bursar could head off on a planned cruise, she had to implement a new computerized accounting system.

"I wanted to be able to get on that boat with nothing hanging over my head," she said.

Because that new system was Nelnet Business Solutions' Commerce Manager, she succeeded.

"I had everybody up and running in less than a week."

That was three years ago. Operating Commerce Manager has gone smoothly ever since.

"I had everybody up and running in less than a week."

"It's very easy to learn," Kallighan said. "We did all the training over the phone. If we had wanted them to come out, they would have, but it just wasn't necessary."

Commerce Manager is a centralized reporting and reconciliation system that allows one college or university office to oversee financial transactions from numerous departments. It also assures an institution that risk, fraud, and other financial security issues are being handled properly.

The University of Richmond, a 4,500-student undergraduate, graduate, and law institution in Virginia, was using a different system to consolidate financial transactions when Kallighan arrived more than 10 years ago. But the old program had to be installed on desktop computers. That meant she and her programmer needed to sit down and install or remove the program whenever employees joined or left the university. With Commerce Manager, no such running from desk-to-desk is involved. Permissions can simply be added or deleted centrally.

"The program we were using before was clunky, for lack of a better word," she said. "Commerce Manager has just been so much easier and seamless."

More important than convenience and efficiency, Commerce Manager included tighter security. The school's previous program wasn't Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliant, which is one of the reasons Richmond switched to the Nelnet system.

"If we got breached, there would have been huge fines," she said. Her department did some shopping for new programs, but they didn't look far before signing up for Commerce Manager. The university was already using Nelnet's QuikPAY system for electronic tuition billing and payment, so they decided to stay with the company they trusted.

Since going live with Commerce Manager in her office, Kallighan has brought it to other departments. It's now used to allow returning students to make housing deposits during the year and for entering students to make initial deposits; for processing of fundraising gifts; for accepting payments from international students; and for processing alumni donations. Before implementing Commerce Manager, students who solicited alumni donations were literally transporting credit card numbers across campus for processing.

Richmond recently started allowing parents to use Commerce Manager to beef up their children's campus spending cards.

"That was huge," Kallighan said. "It really cut down on the phone calls we were getting at the beginning of each semester from parents calling to add money. Now they can go online and do it 24/7."

And the associate bursar can relax—whether she's headed to a cruise or not. "I'm a picky consumer. If I don't like something, I'm the first one to tell you, but I love this product," Kallighan said.

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