Nine in ten public sector finance professionals are still using manual processes for managing at least part of their budgeting and forecasting processes, with the majority still relying on Excel spreadsheets.
The survey by software company Advanced and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) found that only 10% have implemented fully automated processes. The results also showed that many are still using Excel for budget creation (33%), monitoring (20%) and forecasting (41%). Email was the most popular way for budgetary information to be shared within an organisation.
Respondents also identified key areas that are essential to improving their budgeting and forecasting processes. Moving towards greater emphasis on user-driven reports was highlighted as the most important. This was followed by speeding up the process, reducing reliance on spreadsheets, reducing reliance on finance and having greater visibility of budgets over time.
Chasing the budget holder
The most cited concern around budgeting was chasing budget holders for information. This was followed in the list by it being a time-intensive process; the consolidation of information being time consuming; access to real-time budgetary information throughout the process and year; it being labour-intensive with significant manual intervention; and a lack of accuracy.
A total of 72% of respondents said they were reviewing their budgeting and forecasting processes.
Nick Wilson, MD – public sector, enterprise and education at Advanced, said: “The need for robust financial planning and reporting in the public sector is greater than ever before, as organisations continue to balance budget pressures and make confident decisions on the basis of the information provided by these processes.
“Yet many are still relying on outdated manual processes, which they simply cannot afford to do in the current climate. Those working within the sector recognise this but many are still yet to make the switch to a fully automated approach which is the easiest way to simplify and speed up the entire budgeting and forecasting process from end-to-end.”