Local Government and Public Sector Budget Software
What is Government Budget Software?
Government budget software is designed to meet the unique needs of local government and the public sector, specifically with forecasting and multi-fund accounting.
Governments can’t lean on typical business budgeting and forecasting software because it fails to handle the intricacies and granularities of government financial planning, which includes the process of breaking down budget revenues, expenses, and actuals by department. General budgeting software also lacks a collaborative element that saves time and improves alignment. City, county, and state agencies must collaborate when providing their budget input.
Other elements of many cloud-based government budget software include:
- Operating budgets
- Multi-year budgeting and reporting
- Scenario analysis
- Workflows and approvals
- Workforce planning
- Performance management with KPI reports and dashboards
- Reporting and auditing
- Statistical ledger
- Budget book publication
The Top Budget Software Programs for Local Government
Today’s most popular government budget software companies focus on performance and impact.
The Advantages of Software vs. Traditional Spreadsheets in Government Budgeting
For many, using spreadsheets is familiar and routine. It’s understandable if you think that changing how you use this primary budget preparation tool would create challenges. But, we believe software, when combined with spreadsheets, can actually enhance the budget process.
With many public sector budgeting software options, you can begin the process in Microsoft Excel, export to the software, allow people to collaborate, finalize the budget, and then return to your tried-and-true spreadsheet. With the OpenGov platform, in addition to collaboration, you’ll also get real-time visibility, permissions, and version control.
Outcome budgeting, or performance-focused budgeting, is a practice that uses evidence to drive more effective outcomes. Based on historical budgets, funds go to programs that work and away from those that don’t. By comparing funding and expected results, this approach increases visibility into how government policies and spending will actually address issues and needs.
With software, it can be easier to manage the budget and change the starting point.
Integration with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Tools
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tools automate a lot of back office functions and day-to-day business activities, such as accounting and project management. ERPs work with financials (budget vs actual), not with performance.
With public sector budgeting software, it’s easier to not only manage the budget but also the department performance against it, whether it’s financial or non-financial. By integrating with ERPs, government budget software is able to include performance analyses so you can see how everything is going.
The top ERP systems include:
- JD Edwards
- Tyler Incode
- Tyler Munis
- Tyler New World
- Work Horse
Making a Difference Through Participatory Budgeting
Participatory budgeting is the democratic process of community members providing input on allocation of funds in a government or public budget. This can happen in a few different ways, including a one-time project that requires operating costs, but no additional staff.
For example, a Parks and Recreation department may realize they need funds for improvements to a city playground and will need support from the community to secure the necessary funding. During the budgeting process, public hearings and other forums give citizens an opportunity to give feedback on proposals like this one—but they can be limited in their effectiveness because of low attendance. By providing an online method for governments and local citizens to communicate, citizen engagement software can help combat the traditionally low participation at in-person forums and meetings. Once the budget is finalized, this software can also keep citizens informed of the results.