Culpeper County, Virginia, Streamlines Budget Process and Increases Efficiency with OpenGov Budget Builder™
POPULATION: 49,000 | AGENCY TYPE: County | ANNUAL BUDGET: $165 Million
Culpeper County streamlined its budgeting process by budgeting in the cloud using OpenGov Budget Builder. (Source: Doug Kerr / Flickr CC).
While Culpeper’s zero-based budgeting approach always necessitated department head engagement, Lamb noted a heightened ownership and awareness with OpenGov. Even when managers are not involved in detailed back-and-forth decisions, they can easily see what changes users make throughout the process, and by whom. Lamb also saw value in the flexibility afforded to department heads in how they entered and justified their requests through the line-item fields and the narrative section. “Having multiple ways for departments to justify their lines was helpful because different people like different formats, and that comfort enables them to have more of a stake in their budgets and what they present,” Lamb said.
Budget Builder Extends Life of ERP, While Streamlining Process
To date, the organization’s biggest benefit of using Budget Builder has been its creation of one central and safe budget repository. The platform established a flexible planning and reporting layer that sits atop its existing ERP system, enabling Culpeper to continue using it but also take advantage of the data it contained for a better budget process.
“The one thing that I liked best about OpenGov is the fact that when the department heads log in and enter their information, it’s a central storage point for everything,” Lamb said. From internal coordination to external submissions, such as for GFOA review, Lamb had been sending the budget out on a CD or building a separate shared drive location for access. “There were always differences in versions of Word or Excel, problems with people not being able to open or view files, or any number of issues always going on,” she said.
“It was just really cumbersome, and it’s a daunting task to go in there and enter information,” Lamb said. OpenGov provided an intuitive web-based system that Culpeper’s staff could use easily to drill down and attach relevant items, streamlining their work and saving time previously spent chasing down versions and following long e-mail threads. “With OpenGov, they could just store everything in one place and then I could download it and put it where I needed it,” Lamb said. “The possibility of receiving or updating a wrong version, or not getting something to the right person was eliminated.”
Budget Builder Saves Finance Director’s Time
Culpeper’s first budget cycle using Budget Builder was noticeably smoother than previous ones despite the fact that it was a reassessment year for the County and policy decisions were more complex. “The whole process just flowed a lot easier,” Lamb said. In particular, Lamb was able to use Budget Builder’s automatic calculations and updates to eliminate much of her manual changes. “It saved a lot of time and headaches for me because when I would change something, it would automatically update everything that was linked, and I didn’t have to manually rekey or recreate things,” she said.