There Has Never Been a Better Time for Local Government Finance Transformation
“Making do” just isn’t getting it done, and “workaround” is just another word for manual. The need for timely and accurate data for planning, decision making, and transparency is now a top priority for governments; however, many are finding their systems aren’t up to the task even though we are in a time of incredible technological innovation.
On day three of OpenGov Transform 2020, the urgency and opportunity for transformation were palpable:
- Csilla Ludanyi, Finance Director for the City of Nassau Bay, TX and Jason Zimmerman, CFO for the City of North St Paul, MN describe how they responded to “disruption,” (not the fun, tech startup kind) by building a new foundation for data (watch the video replay).
- OpenGov Financials product leaders highlight the need for cloud-based ERP adoption to fundamentally address urgent data needs and risks (watch the video replay).
- John Chambers, former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems and current founder and CEO of JC2 Ventures, implored government finance leaders to dream bigger and make those dreams a reality with cloud transformation (watch the video replay).
1. Stay focused on your highest order goals to take the first step
For North St. Paul, MN a leadership change and COVID-19 forced a complete technology evaluation into how the City conducts business, issues permits, and plans and budgets. CFO Jason Zimmerman and his team weighed the benefits and challenges of a cloud ERP transformation and decided to go for it after considering workarounds, time sinks, and disparate datasets.
“It’s easy to get comfortable with the challenges of your current system and create workarounds, but then you realize that [it’s] getting in the way of real-time, accurate reporting,” explains Zimmerman.
For Nassau Bay, it all started with a 1980s-era server. The “C-drive”, which housed the City’s core financial management and accounting data, was quickly running out of memory, but what the team determined was that they were running out of patience with the constant interruption of requests for manual data pulls.
“We are here to provide a service that safeguards the resources of the community and provide details to everyone in the community that needs it. Accurate and timely data is our obligation.”
Csilla Ludanyi, Finance Director, City of Nassau Bay, TX
Both leaders recommend being thoughtful about what your needs are and what’s getting in the way of meeting those needs. They both highlight the heightened importance of timely and accurate data to automatically populate custom and shared dashboards to arm their teams and stakeholders to make better financial decisions for their cities.
Watch: One System, One Source: How to Finally Achieve Finance Transformation
Featuring: Csilla Ludanyi, Finance Director for the City of Nassau Bay, TX and Jason Zimmerman, CFO for the City of North St Paul, MN
2. Understand the benefits of cloud for mission-critical software and data
The benefits of the cloud were well articulated across the preceding two days of OpenGov Transform, starting with kickoff keynote speaker Monica Terese Carranza, Principal Digital Innovation Lead for AWS and Previous CIO and IT Leader for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.
Using cloud-based solutions for your mission-critical functions protects your critical financial data and software against disruption and security risks, and minimizes dependence on IT teams for installs, backups, and server maintenance, describes Kent Hudson, Product Management Lead for OpenGov Financials.
Cloud-based software also enables data to flow easily between multiple applications to enable different functional capabilities on the same platform (e.g., budgeting, financial planning and accounting, and permitting, licensing and code enforcement) to power dashboards and reports. Additionally, different applications can connect to the platform to provide a network of best-in-class solutions to efficiently serve the unique needs of your government.
Watch: Version Next: Preparing Your Government for Cloud Conversion
Featuring: Kent Hudson, Product Management Lead, OpenGov and Chris Barber, Director of Engineering, OpenGov
3. Dream bigger to make the right decisions for your team and government
Government leaders don’t get criticized for not taking risk, but now’s not a time for retrenching since it’s easier to make a change in periods of crisis, says John Chambers, former executive chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, a leader who has weathered five financial, five health, and three supply-chain crises.
The timing for change is ideal with the availability and mission-critical cloud-based software: “You can never make a bigger impact than you can right now because there is technology to support you in your role, but you need a plan,” recommends Chambers.
You need great data to make decisions in a crisis. Chambers’s rule of thumb is to have three scenario plans even in stable times, and then when crisis hits you have to create three more.
Without access to accurate data through current financial planning and accounting solutions, many local governments struggle to respond with agility to the changes they are confronting this year.
To start to make a change, look forward five to 10 years and think about what you want to enable or create for your community and then build an environment in your government for supporting the adoption of cloud-based technology.
Finally, Think about how you would write the press release of where you want to be in the next 3, 5, and 10 years, Chambers advises. Laying out what you want to accomplish increases the urgency for your local government to make bold moves and investments.
Read about OpenGov Transform Budgeting & Planning and Permitting, Licensing and Code Enforcement insights.
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