Is it time for local government accounting modernization?
Modernization sounds like a strange word to use when it comes to describing a local government initiative. But just like you may modernize your kitchen or bathroom, governments need to modernize their systems too.
Local government accounting modernization is more than a facelift. It may mean finally getting rid of the outdated wallpaper, but it also means upgrading the structure behind the scenes – perhaps adding additional outlets in the kitchen that can handle more appliances or a water connection to the refrigerator area for a built-in ice maker. Local governments choosing to modernize their technical infrastructure need more than new computer hardware. Sometimes, it means a whole new approach to how you think about work – and the technical know-how and support to make the change easier.
Which Areas Should Be Modernized?
Several internal and external systems immediately come to mind that could benefit from an update in most local government agencies.
Are your internal systems holding up to the test of time, or is your finance manager frustrated at the end of each month when working on the budget? Local government accounting modernization can help improve efficiency and accuracy throughout almost all areas of work.
Accounting software is one area where limitations are felt throughout the company. When accounting software becomes outdated, it makes it harder for everyone to do their jobs effectively.
Older software has many limitations. Newer accounting software is worth updating because with new systems you can work with interactive reporting and budgeting. Finance managers can drill down to the source detail level, enabling them to access details that can make their job easier.
Some older systems also have reporting limitations. If you find yourself downloading data and then creating spreadsheets at the end of every month to help with reporting, you may find that upgrading and updating your internal accounting software is a huge time saver.
Another internal system that you may wish to examine for potential modernization is your current Work Order system. How are work orders created? What about permits, inspections, and meters? If you are still handling paperwork the old-fashioned way – and have the massive file cabinets to prove it – it may be time to update your work order system.
Issuing permits, managing inspection paperwork and records, and logging meter readings can all be done automatically today with the appropriate software. Consider how much time may be saved just by automating the permit system. Sure, you'll want someone to review the paperwork to ensure it's in order. But instead of having people come into the office or call to check on permits, enabling them to look them up online by name can be a great convenience and time-saver for all.
Online Purchasing and Requisitions
Another area that can stand a boost is purchasing and requisitions. Routing physical paperwork takes time, and materials can be separated, making the approval process take even longer. Online purchasing and requisitions can be streamlined through the same software like accounting software. Systems such as AccuFund Anywhere Online enable routing trees, which you set up and control. These routing trees provide a streamlined and automated approval queue for online purchasing and requisitions.
Such routing trees set the people responsible for online purchasing at the top of each queue. Approvals can be sent to the appropriate people at the correct point in time. Once they review the automated notification and respond to it, the request is then sent on to the correct person.
Imagine the time (and trees) saved by eliminating paper-based requisitions. An automated system ensures that the same approval process is implemented, but with greater efficiency.
Employee Self-Service Portal
Many local governments have made the switch to automated human resources portals. Such self-service portals do not replace human resources personnel but augment their skills with time-saving features.
With a Human Resources Management System (HRMS), your employees will be able to update their personal contact information as well as emergency contact information. Procedures such as requesting time off can be added to the system to route the appropriate approvals and log the hours. Dashboards and reports provide all managers with updated information and can help with scheduling.
Consider all of the fixed assets your local agency manages. Whether it’s computers or fire trucks, knowing where each asset is located and who has it is critical.
Fixed asset systems enable you to log every item of equipment by department and manage its location through an automated system. Some use barcode scanners and software, similar to how warehouses manage their items, to log equipment in or out. That doesn’t work with ambulances or fire trucks, but it can work with equipment that’s currently logged out of a depot using a sheet on a clipboard.
Modernizing Local Government Accounting External Systems
In addition to the many helpful internal resources available to you when you modernize your computer systems, there are many external systems that, when modernized, benefit your agency, too.
Improve Efficiency with Self-Service Portals
Convenient self-service portals came in handy during the pandemic when many agencies limited their in-person hours to adhere to local health guidelines. These self-service apps, payment portals, and reporting systems can replace or supplement in-person cashier or information windows in local government agencies.
Adding them to your external systems comes with another bonus – many also synchronize with internal accounting systems, enabling payments made through the app or portal to flow seamlessly into your accounting software. This minimizes potential human error and provides up-to-the-minute cash flow information, too.
One other note about using automated self-service portals – transparency is improved here, too. Such systems can generate reports quickly and easily, providing valuable information to the general public. This information improves transparency and trust in the government. When constituents can see where their money has gone, and confirm that every penny is accounted for, their trust improves. That’s a huge benefit of modernizing local government accounting systems.
Helping the Next Generation
If you’re ready to get rid of the software version of bad wallpaper, we can help you modernize. AccuFund has been helping local governments modernize their system for over 20 years. We're small enough to know all of our government agency customers but large enough to help any size agency with their software needs. If you're ready to modernize, we're eager to help.