City of Iqaluit keeps calm and carries on

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Posted by Jamie Black

Topic(s): Success Stories

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The City of Iqaluit is the capital of the Canadian Territory of Nunavut and is an ecological wonderland. Famed for an abundance of natural landscapes and wildlife, it attracts visitors from around the globe. 

The Challenge

Located on beautiful Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic with a population of just 7,740 (2016 census), the City's finance department has experienced some difficulty attracting qualified staff due to a remote location, housing shortage, high cost of living, and limited infrastructure to facilitate travel. When the City required urgent Payroll support, CAO Amy Elgersma was certain that employing an experienced, qualified Payroll Administrator could not happen before the next payroll run. Elgersma needed a quick, temporary solution so the organization's 150 employees would continue to be paid on time.

With time of the essence, the City turned to F.H. Black & Company Incorporated to fill the gap until a suitable replacement could be on-boarded. She knew of FHB from a presentation they provided at a recent conference, and the work they had done with the Government of Nunavut previously. 

The Response

After a few brief conversations, FHB assigned several members of their team to support the City:

  • Michael Switzer, CPA, CA, was formerly the Town of Collingwood’s Deputy Treasurer with responsibilities including preparation of both the year-end financial statements and the annual Town budget as well as managing the town's receivables, payables, and payroll.
  • Joy Richardson, CPA, was formerly the Chief Financial Officer of Thomasville, Georgia where her primary responsibilities included managing both the budget and year-end financial reporting processes as well as overseeing receivables, payables, payroll and all the other day to day activities of the finance department.
  • Tina Steliga rounded out the team. Utilizing 16 years of experience managing the receivables, payables, and payroll processes for numerous clients of all sizes.

Michael, Joy & Tina's decades of experience working in government finance made them an ideal addition to immediately and completely meet the City's needs. Within a week of the request,  consultants Michael & Joy were onsite working with the team to transfer responsibilities and document processes. They were followed shortly thereafter by Tina, who assisted in administering payroll onsite before commencing remote support.

FHB’s response time was exceptional. Their CPA's had the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to learn, document, and process the payroll system efficiently. They also had excellent interpersonal skills and were able to understand processes quickly. Once FHB was on board and started working with us, we were confident that payroll would be completed by the deadline.

Disaster Averted

The first step in the project was developing complete process documentation. Extensive interviews with City staff allowed FHB to build extremely detailed process documentation. The decision was made to put the documentation into a project management software to allow for the ongoing assignment of tasks and monitoring of the process by both FHB management and the City. This ensured FHB would not miss any steps and resulted in the proper execution of payroll each and every time.

As the City's search for a Payroll Administrator was underway, FHB continued to process the payroll remotely. From mid-October to the end of February.

We were able to arrange to have the payroll done via distance, this saved us time and money. The entire process was documented using a project management software tool.

Ultimately the City successfully recruited a Payroll Administrator to take on the role. FHB transitioned to provide assistance getting the new Payroll Administrator up to speed and support them through the first few payroll runs.

I would absolutely recommend FHB to other finance departments. They were able to process payroll with very little notice and continued via distance. They had a strong knowledge of the payroll and finance systems and could adapt to our processes easily.

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

Originally Posted on 08 June, 2020

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