Manual processes still dominate budgeting and forecasting processes in public sector

Published 5/5/2016 by Advanced, Editor

A survey by Advanced and CIPFA shows most organisations still rely on spreadsheets

Almost 90% of public sector finance professionals are still using manual processes for managing at least part of their budgeting and forecasting processes, with the majority still relying on Excel spreadsheets. This is aaccording to a new survey by Advanced, a leading software solutions provider, and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

The survey of 170 people revealed that only 10% have implemented fully automated processes. The results also showed that many are still using Excel for budget creation (33%), monitoring (20%) and forecasting (41%). Email was the most popular way for budgetary information to be shared within an organisation.
Respondents also identified key areas that are essential to improving their budgeting and forecasting processes. Moving towards greater emphasis on user-driven reports was highlighted as the most important. This was followed by speeding up the process, reducing reliance on spreadsheets, reducing reliance on finance and having greater visibility of budgets over time.

Nick Wilson, Managing Director – Public Sector, Enterprise and Education at Advanced says, “The need for robust financial planning and reporting in the public sector is greater than ever before, as organisations continue to balance budget pressures and make confident decisions on the basis of the information provided by these processes.
“Yet many are still relying on outdated manual processes, which they simply cannot afford to do in the current climate. Those working within the sector recognise this but many are still yet to make the switch to a fully automated approach which is the easiest way to simplify and speed up the entire budgeting and forecasting process from end-to-end.”

The survey also revealed that the most popular concern around budgeting was chasing budget holders for information. This was followed by it being a time intensive process, the consolidation of information being time consuming, access to real time budgetary information throughout the process and year, it being labour intensive with significant manual intervention and a lack of accuracy.

Seventy two per cent of respondents said that they were reviewing their budgeting and forecasting processes.
Wilson adds, “The public sector will always be under scrutiny to operate as effectively as possible, and manual budgeting and forecasting processes simply have no place in this scenario. Moving to a fully automated system has been proven to deliver the efficiencies organisations need to manage the tightrope of financial pressures and protecting quality frontline services.”