Local Authorities Are Stuck In The Eighties

Old Computer

Almost 80 per cent of local authority finance professionals are reliant on Excel spreadsheets for their budget monitoring needs and no, I’m not joking!

This is just one of the statistics I discovered after teaming up with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) recently for a survey. The survey involved questioning finance professionals from 87 different local authorities (LAs) about their budgeting processes.

I understand that it’s easy to stick with what you know, it’s human nature, but equally, haven’t we moved on from the eighties and nineties when Excel spreadsheets were the new black?

I find it worrying that such a high percentage of LA finance professionals are still reliant on spreadsheets for their budgeting needs, nearly thirty years after Excel was first released to market. Spreadsheets are prone to inaccuracies, they can’t provide real-time financial information, which is critical in today’s financial climate, and they are very cumbersome and time-consuming to manage.

We now live in an age of sophisticated, real-time technologies and so why are Excel spreadsheets still so prominent in LA finance departments? Yes, they are easy to use and every finance person has gone through some form of Excel training during their lifetime, but it’s time to move on.

Spreadsheets need to be replaced with smart, versatile and collaborative budgeting and forecasting solutions. Cheshire West and Chester Council, for example, predicts a saving of £500,000 by using our smart Collaborative Planning budgeting and forecasting solution.

More and more local authorities are waking up to realise that to achieve cost savings, real-time financial information and greater budget holder responsibility, it’s vital to have real-time and collaborative budgeting and forecasting solutions in place. Excel spreadsheets just don’t cut the mustard anymore and so it’s time to ditch the eighties spreadsheets in favour of IT solutions that work!

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Dean Dickinson is Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, formerly COA Solutions. Dean has been in the finance software business since 1990. He was part of the senior management team at QSP/Arelon prior to the acquisition by COA Solutions at which time he became Deputy Managing Director for the business as a whole. Since the acquisition of COA Solutions by Advanced Computer Software Group in February 2010, Dean has become Managing Director for Advanced Business Solutions. He is a specialist in consultancy and has a strong knowledge of business processes within a high volume/high value environment.