Warrington Borough Council is implementing a budgeting and forecasting solution from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced) which will reduce financial reporting time from three months to two weeks. Collaborative Planning will integrate with the council’s SAP finance system and the first phase of the project will go live in October 2013.
Collaborative Planning simplifies the entire budgeting process, making it easier to input and analyse information. The solution provides real-time information through a single-based web system and will allow budget managers anywhere in the council to compare budgets with forecasts.
With financial reports currently taking the finance team three months to produce, and with the council looking to save time and costs, there was a need for a more automated, user-friendly and collaborative approach to the budget and forecasting process. The new solution will increase reporting accuracy and will significantly reduce reporting time. The council approached Advanced about the solution after talking with other councils which were already benefiting from the solution.
Shaer Halewood, Chief Accountant from Warrington Borough Council says, “The latest government cuts mean we are under constant pressure to find ways to save costs and time, while maximising efficiencies. We talked to two other councils which are already seeing significant benefits by using Collaborative Planning, so this gave me confidence in the solution and reassured me that my cost and time saving goals are achievable. We also liked the fact that the solution can easily integrate with our SAP finance system and that it’s quick to implement and easy to use.”
“The processes that we currently use are time-consuming and cumbersome and aren’t empowering budget managers. Our aim, with this software, is to allow budget managers to take ownership of their own budgets and improve access to information,” she continues.
100 budget managers will use the system, in addition to 45 accountancy staff members.
Collaborative Planning will free up the finance team’s time, which will be spent on other tasks, while empowering budget holders to take ownership of their own plans, forecasts and performance. As the Advanced system automatically flags any budgets that create a medium or high risk for the council, this will further improve budget monitoring.