Replace outdated budgeting tools with innovative solutions that are easy for department heads to learn, introduce a new level of collaboration and time-savings through technology, and help Malden win its first GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation award.
Malden’s Chief Strategy Officer, Ron Hogan, identified the need for more sophisticated and user-friendly budgeting tools to build their budget efficiently and create a budget book to engage the public. The existing systems were based heavily on Excel and manual inputs and were not suitable for a City of Malden’s size and complexity.
The goal was to find solutions that were not only easy to use but also helped them earn their first Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) budget award and guide them through the award criteria.
After researching what budgeting solutions surrounding cities used, Malden chose ClearGov for its ease of use and simple presentation of complex data.
ClearGov enabled the City of Malden to create a comprehensive, easy-to-understand, and award-winning budget book. As it was the city’s first time applying for a GFOA award, ClearGov’s built-in checklist and automatic content creation were invaluable in guiding them through the process, and they earned the award their first year applying! And, after learning that strategic planning was such an important part of the GFOA award, Malden also adopted ClearGov’s ClearPlans product to enable the city to create, document, and present its long-term strategic plan in a user-friendly and visually appealing format.
While the city’s initial focus was on the end product — their budget book — they were thrilled by the way Digital Budget Book tied into the Operational Budgeting platform. Updates to the operating budget were automatically reflected in the budget book, which reduced manual work and potential errors.
In the second and third years, the city spent only about 25% of the time they initially did on creating the budget and budget book. Despite this reduced time investment, the end product remained just as polished. They attribute the time savings and efficiency largely to ClearGov’s design and the integration between their products – Operational Budgeting and Digital Budget Book – which seamlessly carries over information year after year. It provides a solid foundation that the city can then tailor to the specific needs of the current fiscal year.
The ClearGov Transparency center also played a crucial role in engaging the public, especially in showcasing the allocation of the $47 million federal funds the city received from the American Rescue Plan. Now, anybody can see how the City of Malden has utilized that money at a great level of detail. In the past, they tried to add capital projects to the city’s website, but it was a challenge to keep the status of the projects updated as they relied on a web person. With the projects on the city’s transparency portal, anyone can easily make updates and citizens can subscribe and follow along to projects in real-time.