Newport City Council to replace functional finance teams with strategic finance department thanks to Advanced’s Collaborative Planning
Budgeting and forecasting information to be available on an ongoing basis, cutting administration by two weeks each month
Newport City Council is implementing a budgeting and forecasting solution from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced) to reduce time-consuming financial administration and enable the finance function to become more strategic. Collaborative Planning, which is being integrated with the Council’s Oracle Financials ERP system, is being piloted in September 2012 and will be rolled-out across the Council in July 2013.
Currently, four devolved finance teams (around six staff in each) across four Directorates currently spend two weeks each month compiling budgets and forecasts using Excel spreadsheets, which is time-consuming and does not add value. As the Council has to find cost savings, the need for a more automated and collaborative approach to budgeting and forecasting was identified.
Meirion Rushworth, Assistant Head of Finance (Accountancy) from Newport City Council, says, “We need to cut down on manual tasks within our professional accountancy teams, freeing-up the finance department’s time so that they can focus on understanding and analysing the figures and supporting managers. We also recognised the need to empower budget managers to take ownership of their own budgets and to do that, they need better access to information.”
Rushworth continues, “After investigating the market for several months, Advanced’s Collaborative Planning was the only solution we could find that could fulfil all our requirements while integrating with Oracle Financials.”
With Collaborative Planning, budget managers can review and update their own budgets and forecasts on an ongoing, rolling basis, enabling an instant and real-time view of the Council’s financial status. This provides a ‘self service’ system. In time, the solution will be used for building the Council’s budgets, and certain tasks such as inflationary calculations, which are currently pulled together by four different teams, will be automated by the system and done once rather than in duplicate.
With the finance teams no longer having to spend two weeks every month compiling and consolidating spreadsheets, their time will be freed-up for more strategic tasks. This, in turn, will enable the Accountancy service to alter its operating model and move to a more ‘business partnering’ approach.
Rushworth says, “The finance teams’ time will no longer be wasted on administration. The time that is freed-up will be spent analysing figures in partnership with the managers and focusing on high risk areas, enabling smarter decision making.”
Rushworth adds, “Collaborative Planning will allow us to rethink our operating model. By no longer having to manually produce and collate financial planning and budgetary information and carry-out forecasts monitoring across four departments, this will enable us to move from functional finance teams to a more strategically-focused finance department. This change will allow finance professionals to be at the very heart of key decision making.”