Local governments are confronting a time of great uncertainty. With COVID-19 still spreading through the population and forcing millions of people to stay home, local governments do not have a clear line of sight to what the future holds for their communities. Spending plans that are prepared one week may be outdated and require changes the next. Governments are being challenged to introduce financial measures to support public health and the well-being of citizens. More than ever, governments need to have a thorough understanding of their budgets and be prepared for the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic could take weeks or months to run its course. How can local governments strategically position themselves for the unknown? How can they manage the challenges in front of them today, but be ready for what comes tomorrow?
Get ahead of the impact of COVID-19
State and local governments are at the centre of the COVID-19 crisis. Many have transferred funds or dipped into reserves to support the increased need for public health services. They have also deferred tax payments and provided wage subsidies to help businesses survive the pandemic. With increased spending in response to the crisis, and less expected revenue to help pay for first responders and maintaining community infrastructure, governments need to carefully assess the impact of COVID-19 and ensure they are prepared for the long-term effects of the pandemic.
Developing a balanced budget despite the negative impact expected on their bottom line is a difficult challenge for local governments. The budget serves as an annual plan that represents the subsequent results, financial position and cash flows that the government hopes to achieve. In order to understand how they should prepare for either a prolonged crisis or a major economic recovery, now more than ever governments need a firm understanding of their budgets to get ahead of COVID-19’s impact.
Forecasts should be part of any government’s strategy for short and long-term planning because a forecast can help governments determine what additional funding they will need in the future. By modeling different assumptions, data sources and trends, governments can create forecasts of projected revenues and expenses. However, forecasts can take a long time to create manually and spreadsheets do not have the flexibility to quickly extrapolate different budget values. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to escalate, forecasts prepared in spreadsheets can quickly become inaccurate. Some governments have chosen to no longer share revenue projections with the public for this reason.
Scenario planning is a highly effective tool for governments preparing budgets in a climate of uncertainty. The goal of scenario planning is not to try to predict the future, but rather to anticipate what could happen in a rapidly changing situation. It requires thinking of every possible scenario, whether good or bad, and forming a big picture of the future. In this regard, scenario planning enables governments to correct their strategies, respond faster and have the flexibility they need to cope with any plausible situation that may occur due to a crisis.
Crisis ready with Questica Budget
Questica Budget is a comprehensive budgeting solution that provides powerful features and functionality for budget preparation and management. With budget data housed in one centralized cloud-based system, users can easily access their budgets remotely and collaborate with other users from anywhere. During the COVID-19 pandemic, local governments need the flexibility to respond quickly to the evolving crisis. Budget adjustments and scenarios are easy to model and complete in Questica Budget. Users can also create reports, dashboards and analyze data for important insights. With a better understanding of their budgets, governments can make faster data-driven decisions and plan for the long-term impacts to their communities in response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Questica Budget offers:
Automated processes within Questica Budget help save time and reduce the risk of errors that normally occur when budgeting manually in spreadsheets. One superior advantage of using Questica Budget is the Advanced Calculation Engine (ACE), a general-purpose calculation system that allows users to create complex modelling for revenue and expenses.
With Questica Budget, users can spend more time analyzing data rather than compiling it using the system’s powerful search functionality, intuitive data queries, dashboards and Smart reports. Easily assemble actionable data from anywhere in the system for analysis and then share it with colleagues to improve strategies.
Build fast forecasts
Creating a forecast manually in a spreadsheet is tedious and does not allow for a quick response to a rapidly changing situation. Build fast and reliable forecasts in Questica Budget for revenue, expenses, capital, projects, salaries and grants. Governments can form better strategies and allocate resources more effectively.
The goal of scenario planning is not to try to predict the future, but rather to recognize opportunities for your government. Leverage the tools in Questica Budget for creating unlimited what-if scenarios to review any potential situations the government may face during the pandemic. Easily modify drivers, revenue, expenses, and salary assumptions to analyze and compare each scenario.
In the midst of these challenging times, local governments know they need to manage the budgeting challenges directly in front of them while preparing for the next issue over the horizon. Questica Budget is a cloud-based budgeting solution designed specifically for the public sector that supports local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether governments need to be prepared for months of funding for healthcare and emergency services, or develop an action plan to revive their local economies, using the features and functions in Questica Budget can help them make decisions quickly and be ready for anything that may affect their community.
To learn more about the Questica Budget Suite of software solutions for budgeting and transparency, read one of our blogs or white papers, take a product tour or sign-up for one of our free monthly informational webinars.