Case Study: Grande Prairie
The County of Grande Prairie, Alberta is located 460 km Northwest of Edmonton, and has the distinction of being Alberta’s first County, established in 1951. Major contributors to the local economy include agriculture, oil and gas, forestry and construction.
Grande Prairie is also known as the “home of the Trumpeter Swan,” when the Canadian Wildlife Service discovered that the swans were nesting in the Grande Prairie area in 1926. Since then the swan has been rescued off the endangered species list thanks to a combination of protective legislation and good wildlife management.
The County of Grande Prairie needed an approach to budgeting that would reduce the amount of overtime, would provide a consolidated approach to the budgets, and would facilitate a smoother back and forth throughout the budget process.
Questica Budget Operating
The County of Grande Prairie realized Questica Budget Operating would allow them to consolidate all aspects of their budgeting preparation and presentation to council, as well as allow them to easily track their budgets during application.
- Report functionality
- Finance time freed up
- Version accuracy
- Resource friendly
- Integration with financial system
- Better budget tool for departments
The County’s budget cycle began with Finance preparing individual budget packages for distribution to each department. This package, based on paper reports generated from the financial system, required each department to enter the budget data by hand. In addition to the coming year’s budget, two forecast projection years were also included.
Following submission by September 15th, Finance entered the budget numbers into the financial system and prepared the budget reports for review with the Chief Accounting Officer (CAO). This review stage typically ran through the end of October and required a great deal of back and forth between Finance and the departments, as changes were required, to ensure budgets reflected council directives.
Once the individual budgets were agreed upon and updated in the financial system, they were entered into a master Excel spreadsheet by department and summarized by revenue and expense types. Reports were then generated, comments added and the budget book was compiled for council.
A great deal of overtime was accumulated by Finance during these preliminary states to conduct meetings, research and make changes, and to prepare the master. A challenge during this entire process was the accurate tracking of budget versions, as new version/requests were submitted (always in paper form). The onus was on Finance to double check that the paper copy they were working from was the most current.
Additionally, when lines or cells of data were deleted, it required the manual task of backtracking through the entire master spreadsheet to ensure links were appropriately adjusted. The County realized they needed a solution that would facilitate a smoother budget process.
The County of Grande Prairie was looking for a tool that would integrate well with their financial system and allow departments input and automatically generate reports for the final budget package. After meeting with Questica representatives at a conference and arranging for a demo, they realized that Questica Budget offered them all the benefits they were looking for, and more, in one easy-to-use application.
Questica Budget offers a consolidated approach to budgeting in a user-friendly application. This ensures a smooth transition from the existing paper-based approach.
With numerous paper copies of budgets being submitted throughout the budget process, it was a challenge for finance to ensure they were always working with the most recent version. Additionally, every change to a line or cell of data, required the manual task of backtracking through the master to ensure links were appropriately adjusted.
Questica Budget Operating eliminates these issues. Unlimited ’what-if’ versioning provides departments the ability to compare different budget scenarios and select the one best suited to them. As well, departments can now enter several detail lines explaining the summary of one GL budget line. As budgets are promoted upwards, they are locked, ensuring there are no discrepancies caused by late changes.
The once time-consuming manual process has been replaced by an automated process that enables all users to quickly make changes and see the immediate impact. Because of our budgeting solution, the review stage has been reduced by several weeks and staff overtime has been significantly reduced.
With Questica Budget Operating departments can begin the budget cycle earlier by the simplicity of rolling forward previous budgets and making the necessary adjustments for the new year. They can also be responsible for day-to-day tracking and management of their budgets. This allows the Finance department to focus on other priorities. Plus, departments can enter detailed lines and notes to the budget, helping explain their numbers.
Finance time freed up
Prior to Questica Budget, Finance was responsible for preparing all department budget sheets and bringing all that data together into the master. This was a laborious task requiring a great deal of overtime. Our solution got the department back time to spend on other projects.
While the County was previously able to create several of the reports required by council, there was still a great deal of time spent on creating them. Questica Budget Operating provides over 100 built-in reports, as well as the ability to create unlimited additional reports. Now, in response to specific requests, reports can by run with the simple click of a mouse.
Thanks to more efficient budgeting, the County of Grande Prairie is brilliant.