SaaS budgeting software helps public sector organizations improve the budgeting process by providing powerful, cost-effective systems that can be accessed online at any time, and from any location.
Saas (Software-as-a-Service) programming allows users to access data online, through an internet connection. The SaaS model offers users the opportunity to access data, allocate user permissions, and store files online — away from a physical server. We use SaaS applications each day, whether it’s email or your online calendar. One of the newest iterations of SaaS technology — budgeting — allows public sector organizations the flexibility to store budgets online. You’re only an internet connection away from accessing your budget from anywhere in the world.
SaaS (software-as-a-service) solutions are transforming the way public sector organizations function, by making it easier to configure and implement applications with little or no work from the IT department. According to Gartner, the SaaS market was forecasted to grow to $120.9 billion by 2021, and should now reach $145.4 billion in expenditures in 2022, largely because of the continuing shift from on-premises licensed software to subscription-based SaaS models.
SaaS solutions are popular with organizations because vendors can consistently deliver flexible payment options for applications that are secure, accessible, scalable and provide real-time data. Since applications are hosted in the cloud, SaaS models improve productivity and promote staff collaboration.
“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there were a few initial hiccups but cloud ultimately delivered exactly what it was supposed to,” says Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “It responded to increased demand and catered to customers’ preference of elastic, pay-as-you-go consumption models.”
To improve their budgeting process, public sector organizations can implement powerful SaaS budgeting software to take advantage of the following benefits:
1. Integrated budgeting best practices
The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) recommends following the best practices established by the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting which outlines key characteristics of the budgeting process, including:
- Incorporate a long-term perspective;
- Establish linkages to broad organizational goals;
- Focus budget decisions on results and outcomes;
- Involve and promote effective communication with stakeholders;
- Provide incentives to government management and employees.
Purpose-built budgeting software helps organizations improve the budgeting process by allowing users to link strategic plans to the budget. Users can also create forecasts and scenario-based plans, analyze the budget for deeper insights and share information.
2. Elimination of Excel spreadsheets from the budgeting process
Public sector organizations have used Excel spreadsheets for years to prepare the budget. Spending countless resources entering data, creating formulas, checking calculations and fixing errors with Excel spreadsheets inevitably has the same outcome: time-consuming projects using tools that are not designed to be a budgeting system. In addition, the static nature of spreadsheets prevents organizations from analyzing their budgets and gaining important insights.
The manual data entry format of spreadsheets, calculations and formulas in Excel means that work is susceptible to human error. The study What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors reported in MarketWatch states that one percent or more of all formula cells contain errors. When your organization needs to deliver an accurate budget on a deadline, there’s no time for manually checking data or fixing errors.
3. User-friendly, collaborative features
Legacy systems or spreadsheets still often serve as the backbone of an organization’s budgeting process, but these can be cumbersome to use and can lack the capabilities needed to budget successfully. Cloud-based budgeting software is designed to be user-friendly and provide intuitive dashboards that shows budget data in a visually rich and interactive interface.
With automated workflows, approvals and role-based security, budgeting software provides a collaborative platform for staff to prepare the budget online at any time and from any location. Integration with financial, human resources and payroll systems provides a seamless back and forth flow of information to ensure budget collaborators are always working with the most up-to-date data.
4. Actionable information for data-driven decision making
Public sector organizations need to make decisions quickly and adapt to changes in funding or program and service needs. The lack of functionality in a legacy budget system or Excel can make it even more difficult to keep up with changes. Reporting, scenario planning, allocations, multi-year budgeting, and other functions key to the public sector, are severely limited in most legacy systems.
Budgeting requires a dynamic and sophisticated solution that can produce accurate budget data on-demand. SaaS budgeting software provides robust reporting capability and the ability to create forecasts and scenarios, enabling organizations to assemble actionable data quickly and make better data-driven decisions.
5. Cost-effective access
Maintaining a legacy system is a costly and time-consuming endeavour with little reward. Not only do the system’s modules and platforms need to be purchased, but often additional IT infrastructure and staff support adds to overall total cost of ownership (TCO). Since the monthly or annual subscription SaaS fee is significantly less than the up-front cost of traditional on-premises software, organizations can enjoy significant cost savings.
“The use of public cloud services offer CIOs two distinct advantages during the COVID-19 pandemic: cost scale with use and deferred spending,” says Nag from Gartner. “CIOs can invest significantly less cash upfront by utilizing cloud technology rather than scaling up on-premises data center capacity or acquiring traditional licensed software.”
6. Increased stakeholder transparency and engagement
A transparent budgeting process is vital for any public sector organization to earn the trust of stakeholders. While traditional methods of engagement like printed annual reports are simple to produce, it’s unlikely that pages of figures will be sufficient to inform stakeholders. Transparency helps citizens and businesses understand the budget and its priority investments. SaaS budgeting software engages taxpayers to analyze the shared budget data to understand how resources are allocated.
“Americans have historically had a higher level of trust in their local governments than their state and federal governments,” says Charlie Francis, retired FD at Questica. “It’s essential to keep that trust high when fiscal pressures are mounting, and social tensions are rising. SaaS technology is the bridge to sustain and improve transparency and accountability. A key element of successful SaaS technology for transparency and accountability efforts is speed. Speedy execution and speed in stimulating change.”
SaaS budgeting software that is specifically designed for public sector budgeting is easy to implement and doesn’t rely on an IT department to be used. Budgeting software offers a powerful and cost-effective solution to replace the pain of working with legacy systems or Excel spreadsheets. Budgeting software has the functionality and flexibility to enable organizations to improve their budgeting process and introduce best practices to their organization. Not only is SaaS budgeting software user-friendly and intuitive to use, but it also provides a collaborative platform to engage staff participating in the budgeting process.
When transparency is vital for public sector organizations to maintain trust, SaaS budgeting software enables data-driven decisions and the sharing of key insights so that stakeholders understand how your organization provide value to the community.
Get started with SaaS budgeting software by booking a personalized demo with a budgeting expert and explore Questica software solutions for the public sector. For over 20 years, Questica been working with public sector to better enable data-driven budgeting and decision-making, while increasing data accuracy, saving time and improving stakeholder trust. Questica is a GTY Technology company (NASDAQ: GTYH).