Why MDA Needed an ERP and Why It Chose VFP Consulting: An Interview with Michael Kennedy, CFO at the MDA

Mike Kennedy and Stephanie picardi

Why MDA Needed an ERP and Why It Chose VFP Consulting: An Interview with Michael Kennedy, Chief Financial Officer at the Muscular Dystrophy Association

I don’t give recommendations easily. But I can for VFP – I appreciate that they are more than a software implementation company, and have become my partners in a massive transformation in the way we use technology to make a difference.”

Michael Kennedy, CFO at MDA

Mike Kennedy carved out an hour to talk to me in the middle of this year’s Dreamforce to share his vision: Evolve the way the Muscular Dystrophy Association, a nonprofit with a 64-year history, leverages technology to become a streamlined data-driven organization.

With a passion to make a difference and the drive to see it through, Mike has set in motion a clear innovative technology strategy aimed at providing best-in-class integrated technology solutions that further the MDA mission and drive increased fundraising.

With strategic and tactical help from VFP Consulting, the Salesforce/FinancialForce platforms will allow MDA to achieve two important milestones:

  • Reduced administrative overhead and the creation of a centralized service center executing more effectively within a unified technology
  • A way to provide constituents with additional opportunities to engage with the organization by implementing new channels and improving existing channels

These changes will be the backbone of MDA’s future and will empower tens of thousands of volunteers and staff in 84 offices across the country.

What is the business problem that VFP Consulting is helping you solve?

The problem is twofold. In the beginning, MDA had antiquated and disparate front and backend systems. Once the extent of the problem was identified with VFP Consulting’s help, we chose FinancialForce to be the single end-to-end processing platform.

With VFP Consulting building the foundations of the technology architecture, we started the strategic thinking around moving MDA’s existing 60-plus systems into a single Salesforce-managed platform that will drive our fundraising and mission initiatives.

What other technologies is VFP working with to help you realize your vision?

The front-end of fundraising will be driven by Salesforce partner platforms such as Donor Drive, One Cause, and Marketing Cloud, and MDA Care Centers and Summer Camps will have custom-designed Salesforce registries.  All of these programs will be supported by the FinancialForce platform implemented by VFP.

What aspect of the FinancialForce implementation will help you most in your job as CFO?

Every organization needs reliable, timely, and relevant financial information to help guide its goals. This is what FinancialForce can bring to MDA. In addition, it is important to me that MDA maximizes the mission impact of every dollar we raise. With FinancialForce end-to-end processing capabilities, we not only get superior financial information but also achieve a streamlined process providing significant savings. VFP was able to quickly grasp these two critical requirements and help us build a successful platform.

What will a successful implementation look like to you?

VFP has done a wonderful job in putting the FinancialForce implementation on a fast track. It was just too important to the organization to not have a state-of-the-art technology platform. For me, a successful implementation brings me the three key aspects every CFO wants to have:

  • House in order: processing systems deliver efficiencies and financial information can be relied upon
  • Relevant and timely financial reporting: a simple dashboard both for finance department overview as well as for front-end executives to understand where they stand
  • Influence: the right information will influence decision-making and allow my colleagues to achieve their goals

When the implementation is done, I’ll be able to look at financials and say, “Here is where we are struggling,” and make real-time recommendations based on accurate and timely data.  If we can access financials and metrics easily and see how things are connected, then MDA will be able to help more people more efficiently than ever before.

Shifting the organization to a single Salesforce/FinancialForce platform will allow us to become a more connected, efficient team. It will facilitate collaboration that just isn’t possible with our old systems.

From your experience, are the needs of nonprofits different than those of for-profit companies?

Clearly, the end goals are different. For-profit companies are trying to satisfy the financial returns of shareholders, whereas nonprofits are delivering on a defined mission of help and support. Coming from a background as a CFO in both worlds, I can see so many similarities between how each gets to its end goal. Finance teams are relied upon to provide timely and relevant information about an organization’s activities. In addition, it’s just as important for a nonprofit to make sure that the maximum amount of every dollar raised gets to the intended mission. We have the same responsibility to our donors that for-profit has to its shareholders.  Both for-profit and nonprofits need executive and financial leadership. Having the right technology in place, and insight is critical in delivering that leadership.

You mention “insight.” What kind of insight will help MDA fulfill its mission?

We are a large nonprofit organization operating in 84 offices with more than 600 employees and volunteers. Having timely insight into all those activities is critical to the management team to drive our mission and fundraising efforts in an efficient and coordinated fashion. It will answer a lot of questions: Are we doing things in a consistent way? Are we concentrating on the right things, working in the right areas? Where are we raising funds? Why do some regions outperform others? Are we maximizing our connections with our supporters and families? I have never looked at the CFO role as simply a policeman or the generator of data. Compliance and accurate reporting are important but being able to influence the organization is the bigger goal for finance. I come in every day ready to challenge how we do things and how we can become more efficient, never losing sight that each dollar saved goes to helping our community of individuals with neuromuscular diseases. Having the right technology platform is key to being able to achieve that.

What does the future of MDA look like with the help of this platform?

MDA is about innovations in care and science for individuals with neuromuscular diseases. We are constantly evolving as an organization as new treatments are discovered to help these individuals. With a state-of-the-art technology architecture, we will be well-positioned to support how we deliver on this evolving mission.

What’s it like working with VFP? How do they compare to other partners you’ve worked with?

I give a lot of credit to Paul and Stephanie for building a team of professionals that provides clients with thought leadership and timely product delivery. VFP is recognized as a specialist in this field. I don’t give away recommendations easily, but I can with VFP. I trust their knowledge of business processes and I trust their dedication to what we are trying to achieve. They put business process first, then they zero in on a solution. Without that kind of active partnership and knowledge, there would be a lot of wasted trial and error.

What do you see as the value of working with the VFP Consulting team?

When I first met Stephanie and Paul, I was clear about what I wanted. I said,

I’m not looking for an implementation service; I’m looking for a partner who can help me think this through and implement it.”

Michael Kennedy, CFO, MDA

The advantage of working with VFP is that they see the bigger picture. They own it with you. I could only do this with a team that takes the time to understand our processes and how to improve them. The VFP team brings a valuable element to what we are trying to accomplish.

Coming soon: In Part 2 of the MDA story we’ll talk to Paul Rees, co-Founder of VFP, about the process of implementation, lessons learned, and the all-important go-live on Dec. 1, 2018. 

Raul Acosta

Sales Director

As an agile, focused and collaborative team player Raul strives to consistently take a holistic approach and make an impact with each networking experience and partnership forged.


With 15+ years of experience in sales strategy, application sales, and relationship management, he excels at solving complex business challenges through data-driven insights, superior customer service, and relevant Salesforce expertise.


As a former trusted advisor at Certinia and Salesforce, Raul has successfully implemented strategies that drive revenue, align business units, engage target audiences, strengthen brand image, maximize productivity, develop people, transform processes, and improve overall customer experience, showcasing his commitment to clients, partners, and colleagues.

Michael Kelly

Engagement Director & Head of Project Management

Michael, with a background in project financial management and analysis, has spent over a decade in various project management roles. Leading clients, project teams, and fellow project managers, he ensures successful project deliveries and implementations. Michael’s PMP Certification enables him to stay current with the latest industry standards and project management practices.


Passionate about his field and role, Michael finds fulfillment in successful projects, tangible results, and meeting client needs.


Throughout his experience in engagement management Michael has successfully led over 25 clients, projects, and go-lives. He has overseen a project budget portfolio of $25 million per year, managing 21 separate project engagement efforts concurrently for his client base. In his career, Michael has hired, trained, and personally managed a team of over 50 project managers.


He has also contributed to the development and training of new agile project methodologies in multiple companies.


Currently, at VFP, Michael has played a crucial role in implementing the new agile methodology across all active projects for their client base in 2023.

Greg Plaisance

Managing Consultant

Throughout his career at VFP, Greg has progressed from the role of Consultant to Senior Consultant and currently serves as a Managing Consultant.


With 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, Greg possesses a diverse skill set that spans Retail Banking, Post Audit, and Consulting. He holds 3 Salesforce certifications and 2 Certinia certifications, showcasing his expertise in areas such as Accounting, Revenue Recognition, Billing, and leadership strategy. Greg’s extensive background equips him with a deep understanding of financial processes, enabling him to offer valuable insights and guidance to clients within the industry.


Passionate about process improvement, efficiency, and leadership he helps companies by managing the systems that support their core objectives, allowing them to focus on their key goals.


Greg aims to build VFP into a premier consulting firm that is highly sought-after by both clients and professionals as a desirable place to work.

Kristin Hubbard

Managing Consultant

Kristin, a seasoned Salesforce and Certinia professional since 2011 specializes in Financial Management, specifically focusing on areas such as Billing, Revenue, and Accounting.


With a degree in Accounting, Kristin began her career as a Billing Specialist, where she actively contributed to the implementation of Salesforce and Certinia, showcasing her problem-solving skills and passion for process improvement.


Recognizing her abilities, she transitioned to the role of Certinia Administrator, playing a crucial role in the system’s global rollout. Later, as a Business Systems Manager, she assumed responsibility for the entire Salesforce platform. Motivated by her love for the job and a desire to help multiple organizations, Kristin pursued consulting, specializing in Certinia ERP and leading consultant teams for approximately eight years.


Since 2018, she has played a vital role in planning and executing the Florida Dreamin event. Recognized as a Salesforce MVP in 2023, she holds 7 Salesforce and 1 Certinia certification, demonstrating her expertise and dedication to growth.


Kristin understands the value of embracing technology and streamlining processes to reduce costs and enhance profitability. With expertise in Salesforce and Certinia, she guides organizations to implement efficient systems, optimize operations, and achieve financial success.

Ty alibhai

Managing Consultant

Ty is a seasoned consulting leader who has focused his experience over the last 15 years on the Salesforce platform and solutions in its ecosystem. He brings 20+ years of business knowledge, consulting experience, and a knack for successful Salesforce and Certinia implementations in the quote-to-cash space. Ty has successfully implemented technology solutions such as Salesforce and Certinia to over 100+ customers over his career and has led/managed consultant teams of 5-10 people.


Graduating from UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School and with a strong background in Computer Science, he launched his career in technology consulting. He focused his career on the Salesforce platform after experiencing success at Salesforce in the early 2000s and growing that knowledge with consulting partners the latter half of his career. His knowledge spans multiple industries, solutions, and market segments from SMB to Enterprise level experience.


As part of his role at VFP, he effectively manages a team of consultants, empowering them to achieve their career objectives. He also leads project teams and ensures the seamless adoption of technology, thereby driving client success at VFP.


Driven by a strong desire to make a positive impact on customers’ lives by simplifying their experience with new systems he excels as a leader, mentoring consultants and guiding project teams to successful outcomes.

Nick Anderson

Managing Consultant

A global Salesforce and Certinia consulting and implementation leader, Nick is an expert in his field with more than 8 years of experience on the platform, specializing in Quote to Cash and Professional Services Automation best practices.


With a focus on mid-market and enterprise accounts, Nick brings a deep knowledge of best practices to all aspects of client projects including change management, business process documentation & improvement, system configuration, revenue recognition and managed services.


With an extensive background in International Business and PSA solutions, Nick is the driving force behind the VFP consultants, helping the team tap into their full potential in order to deliver excellent results.


Never one to back down from a challenge, Nick embraces his ever-changing environment and encourages customers to do the same as a way to drive further success down the road. He stresses the importance of clear communication and building strong working relationships in order to effectively articulate a vision for the future of a business.


Using his own years of consulting experience as a touchstone, Nick’s focus is on developing talent and ushering in customer success for the VFP team across the board.

Doug Johnston

Chief Operating Officer

Building scalable large-capacity services teams in enterprise environments for more than 25 years, Doug is focused on operational excellence and builds high-quality and high-growth companies and teams.  

As COO, Doug’s responsibilities encompass overseeing all facets of customer services including a Project Management team, internal operations, and a team of expert consultants. His primary focus lies in fostering a high-performing team and culture, guiding its development, providing support, and offering coaching to optimize efficiency.

Doug’s diverse experiences in industries including software services, government, private sector, medical, and beyond have led to the development of a global team, overseeing projects ranging from small initiatives to multi-million dollar implementations and long-term relationships with clients.

With unwavering determination, Doug strives to establish a top-tier consulting firm in collaboration with VFP’s CEO, Stephanie Taylor. Together they shared a vision that transcends software implementation, aiming to provide value, challenge conventions, and leverage expertise for optimal outcomes. Though strategies shift with growth, the core objective of building an exceptional company remains a constant in Doug’s journey. 

Doug joined VFP in its infancy, with a goal to grow the team and scale the operation – which is now doubling year over year, based on a passion for people matched with a deep sense of purpose. With 2x INC5000 placements under 1000, team growth of more than 10,000%, high customer success ratings and stability within the team, his leadership has proved vital to positive growth and long term stability for VFP. 

Stephanie Taylor

Chief Executive Officer

A sought-after leader with a 20+ year history working with global Fortune 500 companies, Stephanie is a business process expert with a deep and well-recognized expertise in the Salesforce and Certinia ecosystems, with a focus on Quote-to-Cash, ERP, CRM, and Financial Management.


Stephanie founded VFP Consulting to offer companies with access to a 360 approach to not just implementing but managing their technology investments over time, from aligning people, process and product needs to long term management that maximizes the investment and fuels growth and business needs over time. 


Front-line experience overseeing 100+ projects and relationships with diverse clients, from mid-market enterprises to billion-dollar enterprises, Stephanie’s expertise spans high-growth businesses, private equity, mergers and acquisitions across various industries. Her leadership at VFP places a premium on the core values behind the name – Vision, Focus, and Passion.