Council is now able to produce monthly as well as quarterly budget reports
Shepway District Council has considerably improved budgetary control since implementing a budgeting and forecasting system from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced).
The Advanced system (Collaborative Planning) which has been integrated with the Council’s Advanced financial management system (eFinancials) was implemented in two phases with the final phase going live in September 2011. The Council is now benefiting from improved budget preparation and monitoring, including the production of monthly as well as quarterly budget reports.
Shepway District Council had been relying on the use of spreadsheets for its budgeting and forecasting but this was clumsy, manually-intensive, prone to errors and wasn’t delivering the real-time budgetary information the Council required.
After evaluating the market, the Council selected Advanced’s Collaborative Planning system because of its flexibility and ease-of-use. Advanced also has a proven track record of working successfully with local authorities.
Leigh Hall, Group Accountant from Shepway District Council says, “The use of spreadsheets for budgeting and forecasting was time-consuming and couldn’t provide us with a real-time, accurate view of council-wide budgets. We needed a smarter budgeting and forecasting solution that could provide us with greater control over current and planned spend.”
The new Collaborative Planning system, which is currently used by 60 budget managers across the Council and 30 ‘view-only’ users, has already increased productivity, with the monthly reports produced being viewed by the management team within 10 working days of month end.
Hall says, “The new Advanced system is proving very easy to use and is providing an instant, holistic view of actuals, budgets and forecasts. Previously, the time-consuming nature of budgeting and forecasting meant that we could only deliver quarterly budget reports. We are now able to produce monthly reports, considerably improving financial transparency.”
Budget managers needed a lot of support in their use of Excel, but with Collaborative Planning, they need very little support, freeing up the finance team’s time. This time can now be spent on other tasks and supporting existing and future projects, while empowering budget holders to take ownership of their own budgets and forecasts. As the Advanced system automatically flags any budgets that create a medium or high risk for the Council, this is further improving budget monitoring.