Ivins, Utah Saves Time and Funds New Positions Using OpenGov Budget Builder
POPULATION: 8,000 | AGENCY TYPE: City | ANNUAL BUDGET: $16 Million
As a bedroom community, Ivins, UT uses OpenGov Budget Builder to strategically plan how the city will allocate resources to deliver quality services over time. (Image: Bobak Ha’Eri / CC)
Static Spreadsheets Limited Collaboration and Efficiency
Ivins Finance Director Wally Ritchie explained that the City’s previously static budget planning process revolved around spreadsheets, making it onerous. “Our business challenge was that I had five other department heads working with me on the budget, and I used very large spreadsheets for the process,” he said. “The department heads would input original numbers into their spreadsheets, and I’d end up making the changes to my master version. There was no good way for information to flow back and forth.”
Furthermore, once Ritchie started making those updates in his master spreadsheet, the process allowed for little ongoing budget collaboration with his department heads. “Other than inputting the original numbers, the department heads were not overly-involved in the budget process,” he said. “I made necessary changes along the way, which took a significant amount of my work time. No one else had a way to provide input, and as they were busy running their departments, they never really went back to the spreadsheets or looked at them again.”
Ritchie sought a solution that would involve non-finance departments in planning and provide them with greater awareness of the financial landscape – both throughout the year and into the future.
Implemented OpenGov Budget Builder to Streamline Process
To introduce his team to OpenGov Budget Builder, OpenGov’s Customer Success team facilitated a kickoff meeting with the entire team. “OpenGov provided the best introduction for our staff by illustrating what we were trying to accomplish with Budget Builder and how it would allow them greater access to our finances throughout the year and beyond,” he said. He noted the department heads immediately noticed how easy it would be to adjust their numbers. For example, if they knew benefits were increasing by seven percent, the ability to quickly update the percentage accordingly in the software was exciting. For them, he said simplicity was key.
Ivins, UT’s department heads can now provide greater input throughout the budgeting process and have greater access to their department financials throughout the year. (Image: iStock)
In practice, using Budget Builder proved successful. “As we went through the first budget process after implementation, department heads created their own expenditure proposals, and as things came up during the process, they could go back in, input a change, and resubmit it without looking back and forth,” Ritchie explained. “It was really smooth, and everyone loved that they could make adjustments on the fly.”
OpenGov Cuts Finance Director’s Time in Half
Ritchie said that compared to Ivins’s previous budget process, using OpenGov Budget Builder reduced his time inputting information and making changes by 50 percent. “It was a time savings for everyone because department heads could update their own numbers without my involvement as we went along,” he said. “As we prepare them, our budgets are really fluid. Budget Builder streamlined our process because we could make changes faster and everyone was on the same page earlier than in the past.”
The team also became more efficient because they stopped duplicating their efforts by working in the cloud. Whereas department heads previously input budget changes into various static spreadsheets and relied on Ritchie to import data into a master sheet, when using Budget Builder, each person input and updated figures directly the centralized budget system. Those changes were immediately available online.
Ivins Discovers Available Funds for New Hires
In line with the City’s cost-containment strategy, when the Ivins team needed to identify available funds to support two additional FTE positions, Ritchie and his department heads used OpenGov to find possible expense areas where they could reallocate resources rather than adding additional expenditures.
“Though our population has grown 16 percent since 2010,” Ritchie noted, “we’d maintained our staffing levels with no new hires since before the Recession. We realized that, at some point, we had to increase staffing to maintain service levels, and we determined we needed new public works and parks employees just to stay on top of everything.”