The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has triggered an unprecedented situation where governments and companies around the world require staff to work from home in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. It is unclear whether this is a temporary situation or whether staff will be working remotely for weeks – or months. With local governments and public health agencies in the media spotlight, a new appreciation for the important role of government has arisen. However, with that attention comes even harsher scrutiny of how local governments have budgeted for emergency resources or funded public health. Now more than ever, citizens will expect to see budget numbers and have a better understanding of government spending. What does this mean for local governments working on their budgets? How can local government finance departments continue to focus on this important work remotely?
The Telework Enhancement Act was introduced in the U.S. to provide a framework for public sector agencies to manage their workforce with telework. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”), approximately 36% of eligible government staff worked remotely in 2017. Although remote work has increased for government workers in the last decade, the rate of adoption has been much lower than in the private sector. For some local governments, the sudden and unexpected need to allow staff to work remotely because of the coronavirus will put their business contingency plans and remote work systems to the test.
Budgeting is a people-centric process that requires communication and collaboration to be successful. Not only does the sudden shift to remote work interfere with the budgeting process, but now budget managers have additional challenges, such as determining the impact of coronavirus on revenues, calculating if reserve funds are needed for emergency resources, or contending with staff plans for sick workers or those working overtime in their place. Plus, a myriad of other issues that may emerge during the coronavirus crisis.
How cloud-based technology supports remote work
Cloud-based technology has enabled local governments to quickly mobilize a remote workforce. In particular, cloud-based budgeting solutions enable users to access online budget data from a centralized system and prepare budgets from home during disruptions like the coronavirus pandemic. Local governments that invest in online budgeting solutions will find that they can easily collaborate with department managers on budgets and have the data they need in order to communicate the issues the government is facing during the crisis.
Questica Budget is a user-friendly cloud-based budgeting solution specifically designed for the public sector that will support local governments who need to prepare budgets remotely. With secure, role-based access, budget managers and staff participating in the budgeting process can view and analyze budget data from home. They can also generate dashboards and reports, what-if scenarios and create complex formulas for projections using the Advanced Calculation Engine (ACE). Users can drill-down through their budget data and gain actionable insights from complex budgets to make policy decisions quickly based on the available data.
During the coronavirus pandemic, clear communication between budget managers and departments is crucial during budget preparation. Questica Budget enables them to see the same budget data in real-time during online meetings, enabling teams to work together and make important decisions remotely. Furthermore, users can add notes and additional budget details for future reference, so that adjustments and decisions that were made about the budget are not lost after the crisis.
In addition, communicating the budget to important stakeholders like Council or the public can be achieved using Questica OpenBook, a data visualization tool that turns budget data into interactive and engaging visuals like charts, infographics and maps. With the most up-to-date data flowing directly from Questica Budget to OpenBook, agencies can create dashboards and visuals that display important statistics, such as the allocation of emergency funds or the number of sick people in the community. Information can be tailored for specific audiences, such as Council, finance officers or citizens for a deeper understanding of the government’s financial position. When social distancing rules out in-person meetings, Questica OpenBook makes it easy to share visuals in virtual meetings, on websites or via social media.
Questica Budget for remote budgeting
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forcing governments to send workers home, Questica Budget provides a cloud-based budgeting solution that enables budget managers and staff to securely access to their data for budget preparation and collaboration remotely. Since budgeting is a people-centric process, communication is enhanced when finance can see their budget data and easily create reports, calculations or what-if scenarios. When social distancing is critical for preventing the spread of the virus, Questica OpenBook enables local governments to transform budget data into interactive and engaging visuals to share with stakeholders and the public for a deeper understanding of their budget decisions. While the world waits for life to return to normal, local governments can continue to successfully work on their budgets and pivot with the evolving crisis.
Ready to get started with Questica Budget? Questica can implement our budgeting and transparency solutions for local governments quickly and remotely, so you can immediately start sharing important budgeting information with stakeholders and citizens. Reach out to us at 1.877.707.7755 or firstname.lastname@example.org and speak to one of our budgeting experts.