A CPA’s Take on 4 Benefits of Cloud-based Budgeting

February 27, 2018 – Caitlin Steel

Modern budgeting is one of the key pillars of the Open Impact movement. This growing trend among governments improves effectiveness and accountability by transforming the way governments work through open platforms, a focus on performance, and modernizing the budgeting process.

So what is modern budgeting? It’s using the latest technology to automate and improve the the budget process. Today this is via the cloud or mobile devices-- where data is stored on a remote server and accessible online from anywhere you have internet access.

Most governments today are still using spreadsheets or legacy technologies to complete the budget. While they were successful in the past, today’s advances in technology make them less effective comparatively. In fact, they’re probably hindering you. Today’s technology reduces manual clerical work and automates processes. Cloud-based budgeting uses software that creates four major benefits:

  1. Gives you time for more analysis and influence by freeing you up from clerical work. Cloud-based budgeting automates critical areas such as initial budget creation, workforce planning, and budget book creation. It offers easy ways to complete tasks and is easy to use for those outside of finance. It helps with creating multiple scenarios, easily rolling up new proposals, and making adjustments on the fly. It streamlines activities with purpose-built functionality. This means you get to spend more time analyzing the data, making sure the budget aligns to your government’s strategic priorities, and you make a bigger impact in your community.

    This really gets to the heart of why so many us go into finance: we want to make a difference. As a CPA, I came into the market thinking I would impact business and help make good business decisions -- not spend countless hours configuring Excel formulas. The best points in my career were the times I could go to someone and show them the data and help them make better decisions. Automating critical clerical work frees those of us in finance up to help people make better decisions.
  2. Provides easy access to data and information on the go, at council meetings, wherever you are connected to the internet. Cloud-based budgeting software gives you a birds-eye view of consolidated budget numbers, the budget status with visibility into workflows, and access to current and past years budget and actual data with strong reporting. Modern budgeting gives you visibility into how things are getting done which can be next to impossible with spreadsheets.
  3. Makes collaboration easy which generates high adoption rates, and lowers total cost to modernizing. As people use the system and get comfortable with it, the cost goes down over time. Modern budgeting via the cloud also ensures that you get the latest product enhancements automatically as soon as they are available, without down time or additional fees for the upgrades. So your technology is always optimized for the best productivity and performance.
  4. Puts the trust back in the numbers because the software does the calculations behind the scenes for you, human error and number crunching is greatly reduced. Budget updates are consolidated automatically without needing to copy and paste data -- no more multiple spreadsheets with multiple sources of truth! We all know how heartbreaking it is when someone says “These numbers don’t tie out.” Modern budgeting eliminates that, too! It allows people to look at the data and drill into what interests them without needing to burden others with data requests. A centralized budgeting system keeps all activity in place for all to access. When you’re not stressing about potential errors, it takes a huge weight off your shoulders and you can be confident in the numbers.

Modernizing your budgeting process with cloud-based solutions is one of the best ways to improve your government’s effectiveness and accountability. It makes creating the budget much easier. You spend less time on the mechanics of it, and far more time on analysis which enables better decisions about how you spend the revenues collected. Ultimately, you make an even bigger impact for the public you serve.

To hear Caitlin present this information, and get a first-hand account of how the City of Lawrence, Kansas modernized their budgeting, watch the on-demand webinar “Lessons on Modern Budgeting from Lawrence, Kansas.