What a difference a year made for the City of Fort Wayne


Posted by Rachel Raymond

Topic(s): Success Stories, Budget Book

Read Time: minute(s)

The City of Fort Wayne cut budget book prep time by 75%. That's 300 hours! 

Project: Budget Book Automation
Project Scope: Automate balances and narrative
GFOA Budget Book Award compliance
Replicate appearance of existing book
Organization: City of Fort Wayne, IN
Population: 265,752 (2019)
Solutions: Workiva Wdesk & Wdata
Budget Book: Operating Budget Book
Success Story: City of Fort Wayne

The Challenge

When we first met the finance team at the City of Fort Wayne, they were using multiple disjointed systems to prepare their budget book. The budget department would bring balances from Excel into Munis, their ERP system. Any required changes would be manually keyed in there. The team would then run "really clunky" Crystal Reports and open them in Excel. Next, they  pivoted the data by inputting appropriate parameters by fund and department. If a department like "police" had sub-departments (police admin, radio shop, records, etc.) any changes to a sub-department would require running a report at the sub-department level before running a department-level report. They then needed to review the reports for accuracy before going back to Excel for any updates. 

"Every time we made one little number change, it caused at least another 30-45 minutes worth of work."

Kathleen Smith, Finance Manager at the City of Fort Wayne  

The Solution

Having had great success with the reporting automation solution used to prepare the city's ACFR, the team opted for more of the same: Workiva's Wdata and Wdesk, customized and implemented with F.H. Black & Company Incorporated.

What does the process look like now?

Data is pulled from the City's ERP system and imported into Workiva. The budget book is then automatically populated with balances. All participants have the ability to access the system and provide their contributions. Any required changes are updated in a single location in Workiva; the book and all other applicable materials are automatically updated. Reports that would have taken hours to prepare now take moments, and data can be pivoted in an instant.

"I just can't say enough about how much efficiency and accuracy improved."

The Implementation

After carefully considering the implementation service levels offered, the city contracted FHB to automate the budget book on a "guided-self" basis, with onboarding support. This meant keeping costs low, as Kathleen and her team would do the majority of the work under the guidance of FHB's experts, once they had completed the initial setup and customization.

FHB assigned a team to work on the city's project and the work began. As with all FHB-led implementations, the initial kick-off meeting defined scope, assigned tasks/deadlines, and trained the city's team on using their project management tool. Next, FHB implemented a pre-built data model designed for public sector organizations, and built a connection from the city's ERP system. FHB recreated the prior year budget book template in Workiva, then set up basic sections and ten pages of linking to train the city's team. Next, we assisted the city with the tasks assigned to their team, including loading, tagging, and grouping imported data by object and function; building and linking schedules, notes, and statements; then reconciling, reviewing, and testing.

"We had the budget book done probably a week earlier than we normally do, and that was while learning and implementing a whole new system."

The Result

The city achieved a 75% time savings while improving its budget book preparation process. Kathleen and her team now have robust, documented, and repeatable processes, making onboarding new team members a breeze. Having automated the ACFR and the expenditure budgets, the city is planning another project to automate the revenue side.

"I was here a lot of evenings making sure everything looked right and tied together correctly. We didn't have that this year, I didn't find myself working any evenings or weekends." 

For more on this project, read the full story

For more on this topic(s), see: Success Stories, Budget Book

Originally Posted on 19 January, 2022

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