Kent County Council claims it has considerably improved financial control since implementing a budgeting and forecasting system from Advanced Business Solutions in July 2012. Collaborative Planning is currently being used by 300 budget holders and, following the success of the project, will be fully rolled out to approximately 800 users across the council, by March 2014.
According to a press release, Advanced is seeing an increase in demand for Collaborative Planning, particularly in the public sector, and it aims to simplify the budgeting process, making it easier to input and analyse information. It also contributes to significant cost savings.
The solution, which provides real-time information through a single-based web system, also allows budget managers anywhere in the council to compare budgets with forecasts. The Advanced solution integrates with the council’s core Oracle finance system.
Kent County Council has recently centralised finance functions and required a budget and forecasting solution that would empower budget holders and give them greater ownership and accountability. Previously, the council relied heavily on the use of Excel spreadsheets, which was manually-intensive, time consuming and left room for human error. The new solution will improve financial accuracy dramatically.
Dominic Magner, Principle Accountant for the Finance Systems team at Kent County Council, says, “We are dealing with public money and so have a responsibility to use the funds in the best way for the tax payer. We needed all the right tools and systems in place to ensure that we spend taxpayers’ money wisely and efficiently, and account for it accurately.
“Collaborative Planning feeds all updated profiled forecasts into our Oracle database and contributes to providing one version of the financial truth. The previous processes were time-consuming and cumbersome and weren’t empowering budget managers, which meant that they were heavily reliant on the Finance team. Our aim, with this software, is to allow budget managers to take ownership of their own budgets and improve their access to information.”
The Collaborative Planning solution will free up the finance team’s time, to be spent on more value-adding tasks, whilst empowering budget holders to take ownership of their own plans, forecasts and performance. As the Advanced system highlights any budgets that are forecasting a potential over/under spend for individual budgets within the council, this will further improve budget monitoring.