How Modernizing The Budgeting Process Benefits Public Sector Department Heads
We talk a lot about the finance manager’s role in the budgeting process. But the reality is that without input from department heads, the finance team would struggle to create an accurate budget on their own. A lot goes into daily operations, and department heads are intimately familiar with the minutiae that makes up every line item of their budget. It’s imperative that they have the tools necessary to advocate for their department and ensure they have the resources necessary to serve their community.
While we regularly tout the benefits of modernizing the budgeting process with a cloud-based solution, like ClearGov, we wanted to shine the light specifically on how our software helps department heads get what they need.
#1 A Better Process To Submit Supporting Documentation
Perhaps one of the most important features of ClearGov for department heads is the ability to submit supporting documentation with each request. Traditionally, budget requests were sent via email, entered into a shared spreadsheet, or (gasp!) submitted on paper. There was no easy way to submit supporting documentation, like cost quotes, pictures, plans, transcripts from union negotiations, or community support (petitions, etc). Even with online forms, there is usually some sort of limitation to the type or amount of additional information that can be submitted with each request.
With ClearGov, department heads are able to upload attachments, enter text for clarification, link to videos, etc. Moreover, all of the supporting documentation stays with the request throughout the process. At any time, anyone reviewing the budget can click the request and see every piece of justification in one place — versus digging through emails, referencing paper plans, or going to another source for information. This keeps each reviewer’s focus on the request at hand.
One customer, Alabaster, Alabama, saw the benefits of cloud-based budgeting firsthand when its local library got a long-overdue bathroom renovation thanks to the detailed documentation the library director included in the capital request. She took full advantage of ClearGov’s Capital Request module and included pictures of the current condition of the bathrooms, renderings of what they could look like after renovations, and detailed cost information in the supporting documentation section of their request. Because of this, the project that was overlooked in previous years finally caught the eyes of council members when the request could be viewed – both visually and by the numbers – in one central location.
#2 Time Savings That Equates To Improved Productivity
A department head’s time is in high demand as they’re pulled in many directions throughout the day. It is an invaluable benefit to department heads to shave time off of the annual budgeting process.
Being able to submit requests electronically, attach supporting documentation, and eliminate all of the manual back and forth spreadsheets, emails, meetings, and phone calls adds up to a hefty time savings.
In fact, one customer, El Campo, Texas, estimates that they reduced their annual budgeting process by over 70 hours! They streamlined the capital budgeting process so much that they were able to reallocate resources to focus on a long-term 5-year capital improvement plan.
#3 Centralized Information Facilitates Data-Driven Decisions
For local governments that historically had very manual budgeting processes, one of the biggest hurdles is having data in so many disparate, siloed locations. It makes it difficult to visualize how different parts of the budget impact one another and how changes affect the budget today, and several years down the road.
With ClearGov, all historical, current, and future data is housed in one, centralized cloud-based location. It is accessible in real-time to department heads and the finance department. Changes are made across the board, and automatic graphs and charts help department heads visualize how the changes impact other parts of their budget.
For one customer, Tega Cay, South Carolina, this ability to see in-depth past, current, and future project details and data graphically “paints a really helpful, precise picture,” according to City Manager, Charlie Funderburk. This allows the public works and parks & rec department heads to make more data-driven decisions about what projects that would best serve the community with the funds they have.
#4 Effortless Onboarding & Quick Adoption
Anytime processes change and new technology is adopted, there’s going to be some grumbling from employees who want to hold on to ‘the way it’s always been done.’
Not so with ClearGov. While we’ve heard from customers that some department heads were hesitant about the new tool, they quickly embraced it once they saw how easy it was to use — and how much it automated and streamlined the entire budgeting process.
It is our mission to make onboarding as effortless as possible. All a government has to do is export data from their accounting software and review our team’s mapping of your your financial data. Training is quick and painless, and your ClearGov team is just a call or email away for help.
When department heads see how much easier it makes their jobs, they’re quick to adopt the software. They recognize and appreciate the time they save, the improved collaboration, and the insights that can’t be easily gleaned from paper and spreadsheets.
See how ClearGov can help you modernize your annual budgeting process and improve department head productivity. Watch a quick demo today!