8 Ways to Improve Excel‑Led Government Budgeting

February 21, 2019 – Lane Hartman


Excel is dependable and familiar. It does its job, and, frankly, it does it well. The tool can handle a wide variety of use cases, and you can generally mold Excel to do what you need it to do. While Excel is the leading spreadsheet software for a reason, its capabilities should be augmented to improve efficiency and keep up with the realities of the government budgeting process.

These are the eight key areas where an Excel-only budgeting process can be augmented by modern government budgeting software like OpenGov:

  1. Collaboration. Modern budgeting software can encourage participation from departmental experts with easy, built-in collaboration tools. Communication within proposals with commenting and real-time notifications enables involvement from numerous stakeholders.
  2. Version Control. With modern budgeting software, you never have to worry about whether or not you are working on the correct copy. The data present on the system is current and complete.
  3. Activity Feed. You have the ability to see who is working on what, and when—so changes aren’t occurring anonymously.
  4. Single Source of Truth. OpenGov provides on-demand access to all of your data. Improve understanding and awareness by aggregating information from across your organization. Beyond just Excel, you can aggregate and elevate your data from legacy ERP, public records, 311, permitting, public safety, HRIS, and other mission-critical tools into our cloud-based budgeting and performance platform to accelerate data-driven decisions. Once you centrally modify cost drivers, you can then distribute changes to all sources automatically.
  5. Error-Free. Formulas are embedded within OpenGov, and are reflected throughout your budget so you don’t have to constantly double and triple-check that you have the correct formula in the correct place within your file. OpenGov provides the core equation for each piece of the budget, and we then provide flexibility so you can adjust the formulas as needed. You know that the system is pulling exactly the right number or table that you need.
  6. Performance-Focused. Modern budgeting software allows you to easily align financial and non-financial data and put information in context with customizable dashboards. Monitor spending and operations, track progress towards agency goals, and discover new insights. Tie government spend to strategic objectives. Establish targets and KPIs to improve accountability and performance. Build alignment around goals and track progress to build accountability and encourage improvement.
  7. Storytelling. Interactive dashboards allow you to view key metrics easily and put information in context with customizable dashboards. Monitor spending and operations, track progress towards agency goals, and discover new insights.
  8. Advanced Filtering. The OpenGov reporting engine allows you to do multiple filters and pivots without having to build a pivot table. Intuitive UI allows you to change the view without having to do the setup feature. For advanced Excel users who are no stranger to the pivot table, it saves clicks, time, and there is no setup required. As an added bonus, you can share this with other people and they can’t break it!

...and as an added bonus at the end of the process:

Budget Book Publication. Automate your budget book creation with modern document publication. This book is linked to your budget, so all changes automatically flow through to the final document to eliminate errors and save time.

The solution

Modern government budgeting software can help fill in the gaps mentioned above. Collaborative cloud software can connect all stakeholders to the process and ensure that they are working with the most up-to-date data and versions of the budget.

There is no need to completely abandon Excel, and any call to do so wholesale should be viewed critically to make sure it works for you. However, with the right solution, you can limit your time with clerical work, and dig deeper into analysis and outcomes.

Focus on what is important with government budgeting

It’s easy to spend so much time massaging Excel to get your ducks in a row that you lose precious time from the main question: are we doing the right things with our dollars? Budgeting is strategic, so don’t lose sight of the strategic process in the forest of table manipulation and formula double-checking. You can focus on the important and hard questions while cutting out the administrative and formula-crunching monotony.

What’s next

OpenGov is the leader in budgeting and performance software for the public sector. For more information on how leaders can now streamline and transform their end-to-end budgeting process, seamlessly tie budget dollars to key organizational initiatives, and draw actionable insights that maximize performance outcomes (while working in seamlessly with your existing Excel usage), visit opengov.com.

For a more detailed overview of the pragmatic approach to incorporating Excel into a modern budgeting process, watch our on-demand webinar - The Excel Lover’s Guide to Enhancing Budgeting.


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