Palmetto proves automating the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report benefits small organizations too


Posted by Jamie Black

Topic(s): Success Stories

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Palmetto is a waterfront community located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, midway between Tampa to the north and Sarasota to the south.  With a population of just over 14,000 residents, the City has seen dramatic growth in recent years while maintaining the “Old Florida” charm that residents and visitors have come to love. 

The Challenge

The primary challenges for the City's Finance Department were three-fold, they needed to:

  1. Reduce Time
  2. Reduce the Risk of Errors
  3. Formalize Processes

Everyone wants to reduce the time it takes to produce the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report & mitigate the risk of errors. Of particular concern for Palmetto was the impending retirement of the City's Finance Director. The finance department, made up of just four members, was very concerned about how this loss & associated "brain drain" would affect the department going forward.  

The Wrong Turns

Not one to wait for a small problem to become large, the Finance Director anticipated the problems that would arise from her departure and took steps to mitigate them immediately.  After extensive research, the finance department eliminated all spreadsheet-based applications and decided to proceed with a Comprehensive Annual Financial Report focused solution.  Unfortunately, two-thirds of the way through implementing the solution, the City was abandoned by the provider.   

Sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry due to circumstances beyond your control.

The Solution

Convinced a better solution was still 'out there', the evaluation of vendors resumed. This time CaseWare International was the victor, a combination of the Working Papers & GASB Financial solution were just what the department needed.

Perceived Road Blocks

When asked why CaseWare was eliminated for consideration initially, the answer was simply “it was way too big for what we needed.” The perception was that the program was too large & complex, it would take too long to implement. In steps CaseWare authorized implementers F.H.Black & Company Incorporated. 

The Results

  • Reduced time required to produce the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report including over 50% reduction in the time it takes to prepare Fund Statements,
  • Reduced risk of errors,
  • Documented, simplified & formalized processes that will ease the transition to a new Finance Director,
  • Centralized-database for single location modification,
  • Positioned to reclaim Government-Wide statement creation from auditors.

A word of wisdom from the expert

Karen Simpson, Finance Director, shared that no matter the size, “the same amount of work still has to be done.” As the number and complexity of regulations and requirements for financial reporting continue to increase, municipalities of all sizes are quickly realizing that spreadsheets and word processing software that have been used in the past to prepare financial reports are no longer sufficient.

Read the full success story here.

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

Originally Posted on 20 November, 2017

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