Budget Director Connie Maxwell praises the staff’s dedication to public service and efforts to serve citizens as effectively as possible. However, until recently, Burnet faced the following technological hurdles:
- No Budgeting System: Burnet built its budgets in Microsoft Excel. Burnet’s staff had to send spreadsheets back and forth as they swapped proposals and edited various line items. Maxwell and her staff had to track and reconcile dozens of spreadsheets, often going line by line to find changes. And when errors arose, it often took an entire day to find the formula or value causing the issue. Maxwell also explains how Burnet struggled to track who made which change, and why. These clerical tasks consumed hundreds of hours, distracted the team from evaluating proposals and discussing alternatives, and prevented as much collaboration as possible with the council.
- Inadequate Financial System: Burnet’s accounting system logs transactions, but cannot run meaningful management reports. It outputs neither graphs, multi-year data, nor information across funds. Maxwell explains how she had to dump data from her ERP into Excel, clean it up by manually copying, pasting, and applying formulas, then format charts and graphs. And for multi-year reports, Maxwell had to run multiple queries then merge the reports in Excel. This workflow prevented department managers and councilmembers from gaining rapid insights into expenditures against the budget.
- Siloed Departmental Information: Each department stored its own information in spreadsheets, manually updating graphs and reapplying formulas. When the City Manager and Budget Director needed to prepare a Council report or answer a question, they had to request information from each department – causing a delay of several hours or even days in getting an answer. If the council needed a cross-departmental answer, Maxwell had to manually merge multiple departments in Excel.
Burnet began searching for solutions to these problems that could empower staff and managers to operate at their maximum potential. During this search, they found OpenGov – a budgeting, management reporting, and open data solution.
Burnet Cuts the Time Spent Budgeting in Half
Maxwell, deployed OpenGov’s Budget Builder software to streamline the city’s budget process. Through automatic reconciliations, Maxwell was able to instantly see how each proposal would impact the budget. This insight let her quickly adjust line items as needed to balance the budget instead of running a series of time-consuming calculations in Excel.
Maxwell also engaged both staff and councilmembers throughout the process, increasing buy-in and support. Budget Milestones reports let Maxwell share the budget’s process across the organization. And instead of worrying whether someone would fill in a spreadsheet properly, Maxwell could focus on evaluating proposals and strategy since OpenGov provided a single place for proposal submissions.
Ultimately, Maxwell was able to cut the time she spends on the budget’s clerical work in half. “Budget season has always been an ordeal – I worked late every night, plus through weekends. OpenGov has changed this entire process, giving me back my life and opening up enough time for me to focus on other priorities for the city,” she said. Gone are the days of digging around in spreadsheets and enduring lengthy proposal submission cycles. OpenGov has streamlined much of the clerical work involved in budgeting.”
Burnet Implements a Successful Management Reporting Initiative With OpenGov
“What is the total amount we pay for employee health coverage across all funds?” Burnet’s City Manager asked Maxwell. He didn’t expect an immediate answer and started to move on, expecting her to come back in a few hours or days with the answer.
So, he looked surprised when Maxwell replied, “Sure. Hang on a second.”