We live in a time of mass information. We expect to find accurate content instantly on everything from world news, to medical treatment, to how our governments are spending our money.
While it’s obvious to most government finance employees that communicating budget information to citizens needs to happen, it’s not necessarily the easiest task to take on. Implementing a transparency solution can be filled with complexities, including:
• Information being too intimidating: Budget terminology can be confusing to people who don’t work in the industry. Often people are intimidated by the content, leading to frustration and ultimately, lack of engagement.
• Lack of interest in public forums: While citizens have an interest in getting information, they often don’t attend in-person budgeting meetings, since it’s difficult for citizens to make time for these events in their busy schedules.
So how can you effectively share information with your citizens? And what will help them to understand these complicated numbers?
Questica offers two software solutions that help local governments easily and effectively share their budget information with their community: Questica OpenBook and Questica Budget Book. These products can help you visualize and share data with your community and help you overcome the roadblocks that many governments face when presenting information to their citizens. Questica OpenBook and Questica Budget Book can both help you effectively share your budget by allowing you to:
Present information in a clear, easy-to-understand format: High-level graphs and data are a good place to start. Clear and concise information presented as bar or pie charts can help citizens visualize where their money is going. OpenBook presents the data (seamlessly connected with Questica Budget) in interactive charts, tables, bars and graphs that can be embedded into any website. The same is true of Budget Book, but in a PDF/printed format.
We understand that many people are intimidated by numbers. The project explorer feature in OpenBook allows citizens to see high-level numbers as well as visual representations of active projects in the form of maps and images.
Make information interactive: Some people only want high level information, but many citizens want to delve into the numbers to ensure that they have a full understanding of what’s happening in their community. Questica OpenBook allows citizens to break down the data to a category or costing center level. In the example below, citizens can see how much of their tax dollars is allocated to the police department in the overall Operating Budget. They can also clearly see how that money is used within the police force. They can drill down into the costing center information to see how much of the budget is allocated to traffic, the bike squad, or the major crimes department.
Make it easy and cost effective for your team: Improving budget transparency for your citizens is the most important factor, but it’s also imperative to make the process easier and more cost-effective for your finance team. Questica Budget is seamlessly connected with OpenBook, allowing you to share this information in the same format your team uses in the office. Questica also provides online training videos and guided tours which will help your team get up to speed quickly, so you can quickly begin sharing content with your community.
Budget Book can similarly save your governmental organization time and money. Instead of spending hundreds of hours painstakingly creating and publishing your annual budget book, use Questica Budget as your single source of data, then pull your data directly into Budget Book to create your annual budget book. From your Budget Book data, you can customize graphs, charts, tables and images and share your data with your community in a user-friendly format.
For more information on Questica Budget, Questica OpenBook and Questica Budget Book products, please visit our website at questica.com, sign up for a live webinar, or schedule a demonstration with one of our budgeting, performance and transparency experts.