CaseWare Powers Financial Reporting for San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC). SFPUC provides vital services to more than 2.6 million residents of the City by the Bay. Relying primarily on hydroelectric, solar, wind and biowaste, the commission is widely considered to be one of the cleanest and greenest in California. It is also one of the largest public utilities in the state with an annual operating budget of $873 million.
Powering SFPUC’s complex and intricate financial reporting tasks is CaseWare Working Papers.
Energy Intensive Report Production
SFPUC has long used hundreds of individual spreadsheets and text documents to meet its reporting needs, a largely manual process requiring frequent adjustments and updates. It is a testament to the skill and patience of the commission’s staff that SFPUC has been producing its own CAFR for several years, and has received the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting each year since 2010.
To continually deliver reports of this level of quality and completeness, though, required a tremendous effort on the part of Frances Lee, Deputy Chief Financial Officer for SFPUC, and her team. “It had become extremely burdensome for us,” says Lee. “We needed a more efficient method of producing these reports.”
Amp Up the Functionality
The Commission researched software solutions that would meet its CAFR reporting needs, and halted that research when it found CaseWare. “CaseWare met all of our needs and went beyond,” explains Lee. “CaseWare has much broader capabilities than just producing our annual financial statements and the CAFR, and that made it an attractive solution to SFPUC. We saw that with CaseWare we could automate our forecasting and budget projection reports and that CaseWare could also assist us in producing quarterly financial statements.”
SFPUC engaged a CaseWare Certified Consultant to assist with implementation and training. “They provided the training and worked with us to recreate some of our existing reports which we then used for testing,” notes Lee. “We found that the consultant’s help was very valuable in getting us up to speed quickly.”
Generating Processing Power
CaseWare delivers the processing power and throughput the commission requires. “We literally process millions of transactions from our three separate enterprises and multiple funds,” explains Lee. “CaseWare is robust and powerful enough to break out that data into the appropriate views as well as handling our complex consolidation tasks. Using spreadsheets, we previously had to do much of this manually.”
Reporting Time Cut
Lee says that CaseWare has already cut the time her team spends on monthly reporting tasks. “CaseWare saves us a tremendous amount of time — I estimate about 110 hours a year. We now have more time to focus our energies on data analysis and process improvement rather than data entry.”
Lee and her team import more than one million transaction records into CaseWare every day, using the data to generate up-todate reconciliation reports.
The Connector component of CaseWare Working Papers serves to link the financial data to Word® and Excel® documents where the final reports are constructed. “Our numbers are then updated automatically throughout the documents,” Lee says. “It saves us a lot of time working and reworking the spreadsheets.”
New Quarterly Data Views
SFPUC is taking advantage of the flexibility and adaptability of the software to prepare additional reports. “With CaseWare, we will be able to generate our quarterly financials more readily,” says Lee. “We are very excited to have that kind of information easily available to us to use in analyses and decision making.”
Capitalizing On Success
SFPUC will transition the entire production of its CAFR to CaseWare during the current year. “We’re looking forward the further efficiencies automating this task will bring,” says Lee. “I believe it will save a significant additional amount of time. We also expect that we’ll continue to find more new ways to use CaseWare. It represents a huge success for us already.”
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