Sweet Home, OR

Sweet-Home-OR

Primary Objective

Brandon Neish, the Finance Director for the City of Sweet Home, needed to modernize the finance department, take away the manual burden of the budget process, and provide insight, visibility, and clarity to the public via an easy to use communication tool.

Challenge

Neish had a three-part challenge on his hands. First, their entire budget process was manual with email, Excel, and even pencils and graph paper for some portions. Second, the city had previously gone through a significant budget transparency headache when they didn’t communicate a budget change well to their constituents. While all of the information was technically in the city’s budget book, citizens weren’t reading it or asking questions — leaving the city to face a wave of misinformation on social media. Third, the budget book production process was painstakingly tedious, and as Neish acknowledged, “Nobody likes a 135-page document. They’re not going to read it.”

Bottom line, Neish said, “We needed to modernize our finance department and take away the manual burden on me. The goal was to find software and modernization options, not to feel like I was drinking from a firehose every day.”

Governments looking for budgeting and transparency software need to know two things about ClearGov: 1) it’s super easy to use, and 2) the ClearGov Client Success Team is unparalleled in its ability to work individually with each client. I have not found that at any other company. No one does what ClearGov does, and they have really helped us do a better job.

Brandon Neish
Finance Director

Solution

Neish wanted a budgeting software solution that was easy to use and compiled all financial data in one place. He wanted a transparency portal and a budget book that were easy to navigate, easy to understand, and provided citizens an easy way to see where their taxpayer dollars were going.

In 2019, the city bought ClearGov’s Operational Budgeting and Transparency solutions. When the Digital Budget Book solution was launched in 2020, Neish was one of the first in line to buy it.

While the city looked at other government budget software options, they ultimately went with ClearGov because of the quick onboarding and affordable price point. As a small city with a $23 million budget, they needed a solution that comfortably fit within their budget. ClearGov was an all around ‘just right’ solution.

ClearGov’s solutions have been a game-changer for Sweet Home and Neish. He said that Operational Budgeting was a breeze to implement, and applauded ClearGov’s data team, who was easy to work with and flexible about inputting the city’s data and configuring the software. Onboarding department heads and having them submit their budgets through the software was smooth. Everyone appreciated the time-savings and newfound collaboration that the system provided.

The Digital Budget Book solution eliminated the manual process of using Excel to create static charts and graphs for the cumbersome 135-page PDF. On the other hand, Digital Budget Book is easy to navigate, straightforward, and intuitive. Citizens can quickly find the information they’re looking for, and the interactive format makes the city’s financial data accessible and easy to comprehend for all.

ClearGov’s Transparency product allows citizens to look for information themselves and to ask informed questions. Neish said that beyond budgeting, their transparency page became a critical communication tool; it’s a “home base” for citizens to go and find out what’s happening. He is already looking forward to utilizing the Transparency center even more to communicate the city’s goals and how tax dollars are used to accomplish them. As Neish put is, “Every municipality benefits from sharing its budget. Transparent communication educates residents, instills confidence in local government, and builds all-important trust.”

Neish is also looking forward to using ClearGov’s Capital Budgeting and Personnel Budgeting products to forecast projects several years out, enable more robust management of salaries and benefits, and deliver greater transparency to citizens. As he puts it, “People want to know where money is being allocated long-term and see projects in the pipeline.”

From start to finish, ClearGov Budget Cycle Management is a suite that’s well thought out. They clearly did their homework and did a great job integrating all of the products. ClearGov software is worth more than what we’re paying for it!

Brandon Neish
Finance Director
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March 4, 2022

Matt Benati

Matt Benati is Vice President of Marketing for ClearGov®, the leading provider of Budget Cycle Management software for local governments. Matt is passionate about helping organizations modernize their annual budgeting process by automating workflow, increasing collaboration, and improving transparency between governments and citizens.