Government agencies are struggling with the unforeseen challenges that have emerged with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Not only are they challenged with introducing financial measures to support public health and the well-being of citizens, but the sudden shift to remote work requires a better way of managing the budgeting process. During the crisis, clear communication between budget managers, departments and stakeholders is crucial. Staff working from home are discovering that collaboration on the budget is difficult when using spreadsheets or legacy systems, and their ability to communicate and plan during the budgeting process is suffering. What can government agencies do to prepare their budgets and communicate more effectively during this unique time?
Budgeting during a crisis
Government agency priorities may have shifted due to COVID-19, but their responsibility to the public remains the same. New policies, recovery plans and emergency measures are needed to ensure the public remains healthy and safe. This can increase the pressure on agencies to make rapid decisions about their budgets in response to the crisis. The challenges of making budget adjustments on the fly are intensified when working remotely on the budget, as staff at home discover they have lost their ability to strategize and work effectively together.
Budgeting is a people-centric process that requires communication and collaboration to be successful. Putting together a budget often involves multiple departments and stakeholders in a complex process. Successful collaboration can become a difficult task when the budget team members are unable to view the same data and have lost the ability to strategize during the budgeting process. Spreadsheets can be circulated, and updates made to a master file, but it is often chaotic attempting to keep this budgeting system organized when strategic decisions are required quickly.
How cloud technology supports remote budgeting
Cloud-based technology has enabled government agencies to quickly mobilize a remote workforce. Cloud technology has been transforming government business practices over the last few years by shifting the use of applications and the storage of data to online platforms. Investing in cloud technology has provided government agencies more flexibility and enabled them to reduce costs, save time and collaborate better. Dependence on IT staff is also unnecessary because cloud providers are wholly responsible for maintaining platform infrastructure and ensuring the system remains secure.
The budget is a critical component for any government agency navigating through the evolving pandemic. Adopting a cloud budgeting solution enables users to access online budget data from a centralized system and easily prepare budgets from remote locations. Government agencies can collaborate securely online and have access to the most up-to-date data they need in order to make fast decisions and communicate on financial issues during the crisis. The advantages of using a cloud budgeting solution during a crisis include:
- User-friendly system — Learning how to use a new budgeting system can be intimidating, but a user-friendly solution with an easy-to-navigate format can help new users hit the ground running.
- Control and visibility — Keep your important budget data together in a centralized system and have greater control over how budgets are developed.
- Automated workflow – The budget team can work together efficiently using defined process flows to manage budget reviews and approvals through configured stages.
- Monitor and track budget changes – Always know how the budget is being developed with detailed audit tracking to be able to trace what changes were made, by whom, and when, while preserving pre- and post-change values.
- Better collaboration — Facilitate the vital communication a budget team requires by allowing them to work on real-time data and see the same information.
- Quickly adapt to the evolving situation — Allow government agencies to remain flexible and adjust to the evolving situation.
- Ability to make mission-critical decisions — Drill down through complex budget data to gain actionable insights and make mission-critical decisions quickly based on the available data.
- Analyze what-if scenarios — Budget teams can create what-if scenarios and calculate projections to anticipate what may be ahead and how they can be prepared.
- Improve communication with stakeholders — Communicate higher quality budget information to important stakeholders.
Better communication and collaboration will enable government agencies to make faster data-driven decisions and create budgets that support their communities. A cloud-based budgeting solution provides a secure and centralized system for budget preparation and collaboration remotely. Since budgeting is a people-centric process, communication is enhanced during the budgeting process when users can view and analyze the same budget data from home, and easily make budget adjustments, create reports, calculations or what-if scenarios to pivot with the evolving crisis.
To learn more about cloud-based remote budgeting for government agencies, download Questica’s free white paper, "How Cloud Budgeting Supports Governments During a Crisis.”
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