Case Study: North Bay
Called the “Gateway to the North”, the City of North Bay, Ontario is a diverse community that offers a perfect blend of opportunity and relaxed living. With a population of approximately 54,000 and a trading area of 112,000, North Bay offers economic advantages with easy access to larger Canadian and United States (U.S.) markets. North Bay is located three hours north of Canada’s largest city, Toronto, Ontario and three-and–a-half hours west of the nation’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario.
North Bay attracts and retains businesses within a variety of sectors. With a new state-of-the-art Regional Health Centre, coupled with two world-class postsecondary institutions, North Bay’s workforce continues to expand. North Bay’s diverse business community, abundant amenities, and progressive opportunities for growth make the City an ideal place for investment.
The City of North Bay was looking for a value-added, service-focused approach to budgeting.
Questica Budget Capital and Operating
Questica Budget enables the City to meet its’ corporate goals, with a powerful budgeting application which integrates with their SunGard financial system.
- Time Savings
- Integrity of Data
- FTE Tracking
- Availability of Historical Data
- Better Data Analysis
North Bay’s budget preparations begin in early September and end with budget approval in early April. It involved the use of hundreds of Excel-based spreadsheets to be printed and distributed for Department Managers to manually update and submit.
The Finance team was then tasked with interpreting the handwriting, and entering data. Budget changes were received via handwritten memos, emails, and/or voicemails throughout the process. This took a tremendous amount of time and precautions to keep records of changes and ensure the changes were reflective in the consolidated reports.
As with many Operating budgets, a large portion of costs consists of salaries and benefits. In a manual system, the level of detail and ability to allocation partial salaries to several cost centers is limited.
Due to the manual budget process, overtime was required to achieve deadlines because only one person can update a spreadsheet at a time. Preparing a budget also requires the development of assumptions to support the budget. The manual system did not easily allow for notes, comments and assumptions to be tracked. There was simply no way to share the workload amongst team members and limited time to analyze the budget.
The City has completed one budget cycle with Questica Budget, and plans are underway to roll the application out further and more actively involve all departments.
The City has completed one budget cycle with Questica Budget. Plans are underway to roll the application out further and more actively involve departments.
Time is always a huge factor in the budget process — with the City of North Bay, the process took upwards of six months, and involved a great deal of overtime. Questica Budget provides many features to streamline the preparation process. The secure, web-based system allows all users to access their data from any computer when it’s convenient for them.
With the elimination of excel spreadsheets, data is now fully integrated, and any changes made are automatically updated across all associated links. The need to manually verify these updates has been removed.
During review, adjustments can be entered directly into the system, and the immediate impact can be seen. Multiple versions and “what-if” scenarios of a budget can be created easily, to provide a quick comparison. Using Questica Budget, the City could cut their overtime back significantly—from mornings, evenings, and numerous weekends, to only a couple of weekends.
Integrity of data
Questica Budget’s integrated, web-based solution ensures the integrity of the budget data is never in doubt. Version control is no longer an issue, as only one version of the budget can be active at a time.
Questica Budget integrates with most financial systems, updating the data automatically every day. This ensures users are seeing the most current budget data. With email notifications, staff are automatically informed of changes to their budget data and status. Management is now able to understand the budget process, increasing their own level of accountability.
With upwards of eighty percent of a budget being comprised of salaries, the tracking of positions can be extremely difficult and time-consuming.
With Questica Budgets Salaries and the Position Planning module users can configure employees and positions, along with their associated wages, benefits and labour costs. Managers can now allocate an employee to a position, as well as allocate one position across more than one cost center. Questica Budget Salaries was built to handle the complexities of union negotiations — labour costs can be forecast for multiple years, giving a better picture of the impact of a labour decision made today.
Availability of historical data
Understanding the history of a budget is key to making informed decisions. When resources involved in past decision making are no longer available, the information they hold is lost as well. Questica Budget provides a straightforward way for personnel to store, and access all relevant historical data, setting a clear roadmap to past, current, and future budget decisions.
Better data analysis
With so much time tied up in the process of budget compilation, and data reconciliation, there was no time left to analyze the numbers.
With Questica Budget, the Finance team is now able to spend their time analyzing budget data and understanding trending. Multi-year forecasting and the ability to create “what-if” scenarios, are tools that will enable the Finance Team to focus on the true function of their role — making solid long-term business decisions.
Thanks to more efficient budgeting, North Bay is brilliant.