How much to spend, what to spend on, and when to spend - this is the annual refrain that rings through the corridors of public sector organizations as they struggle to plan their budgets and optimize financial spend using traditional time consuming and unreliable data processing methods.
IT software provider, Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced), in partnership with iGov Survey, commissioned a new research to assess methods that public sector organizations used managed their budgets and forecast spend,
This revealed an alarming trend: 50 percent of public sector organizations still stuck to the old traditional approach, showing a distinct lack of awareness about more efficient and alternative systems that are available.
In spite of having access to more sophisticated software alternatives, 82 percent of survey respondents didn't appear to feel the need to make any changes in their budgeting activity, on which something between three to six months were being spent annually. They even felt that their excel spreadsheets were good enough for their budget preparation, forecasting and monitoring.
“It’s surprising that Excel spreadsheet working remains the preferred choice, especially when there are more sophisticated systems available which offer access to real time information, and greater visibility and control over budgets,” said Dean Dickinson, managing director at Advanced Business Solutions.
Given that the public sector has been subjected to drastic financial cuts and has to work with constrained budgets, it makes more economic and financial sense for them to learn to work smarter and manage finances better. And, according to Advanced, this can be done by resorting to using IT to deliver results more effectively.
Dickinson rues the fact that the need to deliver budget savings and reduce budget setting time scales by implementing better technology, is far from widespread, although there are concrete examples where local authorities have made substantial savings by adopting IT solutions.
The Advanced research does, however, suggest that things are looking up and the wider public sector is slowly but surely responding to the IT wave.
A separate Gartner (News - Alert) survey did confirm that the IT trend had slowly set in with 43 percent of finance chiefs indicating that they were planning to invest in IT budgeting, planning and forecasting solutions in 2014 that gave budget holders greater control over their finances and greater visibility.
Advanced advocates that its collaborative planning software will dramatically improve planning, budgeting and forecasting by eliminating the use of multiple spreadsheets and the associated time and risk.
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