Sponsored by the American Association for Budget and Program Analysis (AABPA), this group is for practitioners and academics in the fields of budget and program analysis.
If you could build your own Budgeting Software what would it do?
June 9, 2011 at 8:16 pm #132500
Our company, Fletcher & Fletcher Budgeting, recently returned from the GFOA conference in San Antonio, TX. We spoke with a lot of financial officers including many budget officers about their process of creating their budget. Specifically we were concerned with the technological element of their process:
- What applications are used
- How consolidated was the budget data
- How functional was the financial system budget module (if any)
- How integrated was the budget software with other systems
- How labor intensive was usage of the software
We encountered some common elements among jurisdictions:
- Excel Spreadsheets including 70+ tabs or a rudimentary MS Access database being used. Reports being sent to users and returned to administrators to process requests.
- Budget Data being spread in many disparate locations without the ability to easily consolidate changes made by department heads
- The budget module barely being used in favor of spreadsheets
- Manual entry of budget data into the financial system
- Very labor intensive budget process due to lack of data consolidation or ability to change back-end data calculations in a single place
This got us wondering what type of software functionality would these sites request if they purchased budgeting software? Let's assume that you have all your data within a single database. What tools would you want included? What type of functionality would the software provide? What features would you expect to find as an administrator? Essentially, if you were an application developer, what would you build into your software?
I would really love to hear what all you budgeteers out there would want!
June 9, 2011 at 9:34 pm #132506
We use Springbrook v 6.0.5 right now and are going to transition to 7.0 later. We don't use the budgeting feature really at all. It is not very handy to enter data and it makes lousy printouts, or we don't know how to make it work how we want. So we commit many of those sins you list above. The next version is supposed to improve on this however.
Budget documents are planning documnets as much as financial documents and if you can't merge words and numbers easily then there will be those of us doing all those things you list above.
The budgeting part of your wonder program should allow you to see past year's numbers as you create then edit the budget year in development ideally. It has to drop into Excel easily or be able to merge/link into a Word document easily and directly.
You need to be able to graph and sudy trends from at least five, preferrably ten years. And the softwware needs to allow you to merge/link the graphs and charts into your budget document seemlessly as well.
In a perfect world you could set it up sop that the public could query the data in a safe way. This would be only for the Budget and CAFR, not into active account information.
Just for instance...
June 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm #132504
We currently use the Public Sector Budgeting Module in Oracle Financials. This tool is being phased out by Oracle and has not had any improvements made to it for many years. It is a good tool for estimating payroll and benefits but that is about all. There is no forcasting features and it is a very manual process to roll numbers from year to year.
I agree with the prior posters needs and wants. The ability to download/export to Excel/Word would be a must. The ability to model easily and efficiently would be important. Multi-year budgeting with different estimates and scenarios by year would be good.
June 14, 2011 at 6:32 pm #132502
Hi Doug - This is an excellent question.
There are so many different types and flavors of budgeting systems in our offices that meet our needs to different degrees. AABPA has devoted an entire section of our survey of Federal Budget Professionals to budget systems and technology. We've asked budgeteers to identify essential elements of successful tools, which tool they currently use, how well it meets their needs, and whether it produces finished documents.
If you haven't taken the survey yet, you can do so here.
Look for the results to be published in conjunction with our Fall Symposium.
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