Every year you create your local government’s budget book. The goal is to inform citizens and stakeholders about your town’s financial health. But what does that annual budget book look like? For many governments, it’s an actual book with hundreds of pages of paper bound together or in a binder. If citizens want to see how their tax dollars are being spent, they have to either visit their local city hall or download a huge PDF file to print. The book is difficult to navigate, print, and produce.
On the backend, your team likely spends countless hours building the budget book using a manual process of compiling multiple spreadsheets and reports, generating charts, and writing a narrative. It’s time-consuming and error prone considering all of the different departments involved and all of the figures that must be updated each year. And if you make a mistake or a number changes after the fact? You have to reprint or create an errata sheet.
Can we admit it’s exhausting? Shouldn’t there be a better way? There is: website-based budget books.
An Efficient Process To Build Budget Books
Like so many of the other systems, processes, and technologies that local governments use, it’s time to bring the budget book into the 21st century. Website-based solutions exist that make building your budget book a breeze compared to traditional manual processes.
Instead of using Excel and Word and Adobe, you work in a single, cloud-based platform specifically designed to create a local government’s budget book.
Instead of emailing back and forth with department heads, gathering supporting documentation, and compiling it in one place, a cloud-based solution is highly collaborative. The finance team and departments work together in real-time to complete their tasks quickly and efficiently.
Instead of manually updating figures in multiple places throughout the book, ongoing maintenance is quick and easy. Just make the change in one place, and the software automatically updates the rest of the document.
Instead of a clunky, paper budget book that’s tedious to read and difficult to digest, a website-based budget book is visually appealing and displays information in an easy-to-understand format.
While there are many more reasons to make the switch to a website-based budget book, here are our top five.
#1 – Interactive Charts
With a cloud-based platform, your local government’s budget and financial data can automatically flow into colorful, easy-to-read charts and graphs that make complex financial data easier to digest. The interactive nature allows users to click on each chart/graph to change it into a format that’s easiest for them to understand (e.g., pie chart versus bar graph).
#2 – User-Friendly Interface
Website-based means the entire budget book is accessible online. Clickable navigation lets users quickly jump to different sections (e.g., debt or capital planning), and then drill down into a specific department or data point. There’s no need to flip through hundreds of pages, no need to download huge files, and any data updates made are available immediately in the online version.
Website-based budget book platforms are also ADA-optimized to ensure citizens with disabilities can easily navigate the information and access your government’s financial data.
#3 – Embed Videos And Files
On-page videos and clickable links to external files add context to complex financial data – something not possible with a paper budget book! With a website-based budget book, you can easily add supporting documentation like renderings for capital projects and color-coded timelines. These visual elements help tell your story, improve community understanding of the budget process, and ultimately support your commitment to greater transparency.
#4 – Mobile-Friendly
A website-based budget book is responsive and mobile-friendly, making it accessible on any device. Citizens can access your government’s financial data anytime, anywhere. This is great for people who are out and about and want to quickly learn more about a capital project they see in the works. Or, if they’re having a coffee with a friend and the conversation turns to taxes and schools, it’s easy to quickly find the facts on a smartphone by accessing your mobile-friendly budget book. Rumors spread when people don’t have all the facts, and no one is going to carry around a 200-page paper budget book to keep their friends in check! A mobile-friendly budget book is an instant, portable solution.
#5 – Environmentally-Friendly & Cost-Effective
Printing hundreds (or thousands) of traditional budget books costs a lot of money and uses far too much paper and ink. A website-based budget book reduces waste, reduces costs, and highlights your government’s commitment to sustainability and responsible use of taxpayer dollars.
Ditch The Paper & Go Digital With ClearGov
If your local government is ready to ditch the paper budget book (and its accompanying headaches), it’s time to see what ClearGov can do for you. Our Digital Budget Book solution fully automates the painful, manual process of creating a budget book. It’s easy to afford, easy to implement, and easy to use – for every local government.
Schedule a quick demo today to learn more!