5 Signs You’ve Outgrown Excel: Improving the Local Government Budgeting Process

Let’s start with a game of “Jeopardy.” We’ll take “Strategic Impact” for $5,000. 

Answer: The most time-consuming yet significant task you undertake. 

Question: What’s the local government budgeting process?

Correct! Let’s break it down. You spend hundreds of hours juggling the complexities of the budget process with strategic planning. Not to mention, the need to be fully transparent to your residents. It’s far less casual than a game of  “Jeopardy.” There is little room for error.

And budgeting with Excel spreadsheets increases the margin for error exponentially vs. using budgeting software that’s purpose-built for government. It’s been shown that nearly 90% of spreadsheets contain errors. If the likelihood of errors wasn’t enough, there’s more.

Let’s take a look at five signs you may have outgrown Excel. Answer: Your very own guide to improving local government budgeting.


No. 1: You need to strategically plan for the future.

The numbers and calculations are important. But analysis and planning are even more important. Spreadsheets lack visibility to budget implications and what-if scenarios that are vital to planning for the future. You need a tool that not only shows the now, but also provides valuable insights that can help you make data-driven decisions for the future of your community. 


No. 2: You need to become more efficient

Inputting data, formulas and links, and checking them for errors takes hours and eats away at efficiency. If you’re facing a staff shortage or need to spend more time on strategy than on manual tasks, Excel may no longer be a tool of choice. Opt for a tool that automates the process for you instead. The good news: OpenGov Budgeting & Planning can cut the time you spend on your budget in half! Read how Milpitas, CA, did it. 


No. 3: Your decision-making relies on gathering data.

Gathering your own data or data from the state, county, or other community agencies helps you make budgeting decisions. But most importantly: It also gives you a window into how your own policies or initiatives affect your finances. Excel simply does not fill this need. Instead, choose a tool that can help you visualize trends and model the impact of proposed budget changes while you transform complex financial and performance data into actionable insights. Watch how Dallas County, TX, was able to pull a report filled with valuable data in 15 minutes vs. half a day.


No. 4: Budgeting needs to be a collaborative effort

Multiple people across your organization need to contribute budget data and see how their data affects the overall financial picture. That’s cumbersome when they are vying for access to update a master spreadsheet that doesn’t provide the visibility needed to strategically collaborate. As you continue to gather better, more strategic input from all members of your organization, you need a budgeting and planning tool built for sharing and collecting across departments. The result: Improved decision making for all stakeholders, most importantly your residents. 


No. 5: You need to increase data security

Spreadsheets saved to local servers are prone to data corruption, mismanagement, or loss of access when a server is down. Even when password protected, they can be breached, delivering sensitive information to the wrong hands. Or, even worse, rendered completely inaccessible during a server outage. Avoid the stress and improve accessibility with a cloud-based system that can be securely worked on from home or the office. 


Graduate to Purpose-Built Budgeting Software

When Excel was introduced more than 30 years ago, it was a savior to the local government pen-and-paper budgeting process. Today, budgeting is about more than the numbers. Done well, budgeting can transform those numbers into trends and insights that can help you plan well past the next year. 

Intuitive, powerful budgeting software, such as OpenGov Budgeting & Planning Suite, not only overcomes all of a spreadsheet’s shortcomings, it can be a game changer for strategic planning and visioning. Plus, as a purpose-built tool for government, it can help reduce your budgeting time by 50%. 

To learn more about OpenGov’s Budgeting& Planning Suite and how it beats Excel, request a demo below. 

  • Request A  Demo

Category: Government Finance

Related Posts

Read the Blog
5 Key Considerations for Effective and Efficient Government Personnel Planning
Read the Blog
Government Finance
3 Tips from Leaders Adapting to The ‘New Normal’ for Government Budgeting
Read the Blog
7 Ideas From Local Government Leaders to Borrow