It all started with a 1980s-era server. Nassau Bay’s “C-drive” was quickly running out of memory. The server housed the City’s core financial management and accounting data “on premise” and it couldn’t hold much more data.
Recognizing that the City was facing a pivotal moment in its digital transformation journey, the question of whether to replace the server or upgrade the current accounting and financial management software to a cloud-based solution weighed on the mind of Csilla Ludanyi, Finance Director.
She realized that simply replacing the local server wouldn’t solve the finance team’s data challenges, and that the problem provided an opportunity to transition their current accounting system to the cloud with OpenGov, while expanding to a full cloud ERP with integrated budgeting and planning functionality.
“In this day and age it’s not appropriate to say: ‘I don’t have a report, I can’t pull that information for you.’ Moving to the cloud was an important strategic move for us because it will enable us to pull accurate, real-time data when we need it.”
Csilla Ludanyi, Finance Director, City of Nassau Bay, TX
Now, the City is on track for full-cloud conversion, with OpenGov following an aggressive six-month timetable for upgrading to a cloud-based ERP with fully-integrated Financials and Budgeting and Planning suites powered by OpenGov’s Reporting and Transparency platform.
Dispensing of an at-risk, on premise server
GAAP compliance for the Chart of Accounts
Budget elements in one platform v. many spreadsheets
Accurate & timely data --> shared reports and dashboards
Facing An Urgent Decision Point
It’s a moment we’ve all faced with our mobile phones: the quickly expanding capabilities of new phones outstrip the older models to such a degree that the decision to simply replace an existing system with the same one is effectively a decision to downgrade, as we miss out on better quality, speed, new capabilities as well as powerful new ways to connect.
This is especially true with many government ERP systems. Many legacy providers are no longer investing in true upgrades to their software because the “tech debt” — too many years of under-investment — makes the lift too heavy for many solutions providers to bring their systems to parity with best-in-class, cloud-based solutions.
Oftentimes, legacy providers may simply support a customer’s instance in the cloud, but the benefits of automatic updates, performance improvements, and security enhancements are not part of the so-called “cloud” offer. To be truly cloud-based means that any update or enhancement for one customer is available to all customers. To be OpenGov and AWS-hosted means that all customers receive the highest level of security for their data.
It’s an important distinction to make that not all cloud-based systems are equal to the task of transformation. Simply moving your existing infrastructure and siloed data to the cloud is not sufficient for unlocking the most value for your government.
Nassau Bay recognized that OpenGov’s investment in integrating its core suites and, most critically, its powerful reporting and transparency platform in the cloud would power better decision making. Director Csilla Ludanyi had led the City in the early adoption of OpenGov’s Reporting and Transparency platform five years earlier earning stars from the state for the City’s transparency site.
“We made our decision to partner with OpenGov because we were already using their powerful reporting and transparency capabilities, and we knew that they would be a good partner to help us move to the cloud and transform our core financial capabilities,” explains Csilla Ludanyi, Finance Director for Nassau Bay.
Considering All the Facts (and Accounting Codes)
At best, most local governments can access only aggregated data, sometimes weeks out of date, about what has already been spent across budget categories. For many, the Chart of Accounts may have evolved in such a way that it is no longer useful for deriving useful, granular insights about revenue and spend categories.
This was true for Nassau Bay. “Our COA grew a bit organically over 10 years, which was limiting for reporting and transparency purposes,” explains Finance Director Ludanyi. Working with OpenGov’s Professional Services team, they were able to identify gaps to GAAP compliance and close them with a new COA. Enabling the full capabilities of OpenGov’s software in the cloud meant that a new COA made good accounting sense,” she adds.
“Partnering with Nassau Bay, our teams were able to ‘cross-walk’ their new GAAP-compliant COA, and each account and new code, and the newly-approved budget into OpenGov on the cloud to enable the team to keep running without lost time or data,” describes Caitlin Steel, VP of Product Management for OpenGov.
“The ability to drill into the underlying costs at the account and fund level, and be assured that the totals for each category is accurate means that we can conduct better analysis and make better decisions with OpenGov.”
Csilla Ludanyi, Finance Director, City of Nassau Bay, TX
For the Nassau Bay team, it meant they could continue to do their work with minimal disruption. For OpenGov, the partnership has advanced the Professional Services team’s methodological approach and helped develop program excellence for future deployments.
Early Lessons Learned and Key Results
True conversion requires significant effort on both sides, but the teams at Nassau Bay were ready to undertake it given the deadline around the maxed out server, as well as demand for better, more accurate data from Finance and the City Manager.
Finance needed better and more timely financial metrics to feed dashboards to improve decision making, and the City Manager needed to get more timely data to the public.
The benefits for the finance team are an accurate and detailed view of spend and revenues for the city.
“I’m looking forward to utilizing the workforce planning tool because it will streamline the current process immensely by capturing all the payroll budget elements in one platform versus multiple spreadsheets.”
Jaime Vasquez, Senior Accountant, City of Nassau Bay, TX
Nassau Bay also anticipates a >60% productivity improvement for budgeting and planning after year one, and the City has the option to produce an interactive budget book that is connected and updated with internal reports.
Finally, the direct connection between ERP and reporting and transparency platform enables accurate and real-time dashboard updates on internal and public-facing sites, helping the City’s leadership meet its transparency goals.
About the City of Nassau Bay, TX
The City of Nassau Bay is in Harris County, Texas, which borders the southeastern edge of the city of Houston. The City was established to accommodate Johnson Space Center and provide a community for astronauts, space professionals, and their families. Today, more than 60 Nassau Bay residents have visited space, and a few have walked the moon.
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