City of San Luis


Posted by Rachel Raymond

Topic(s): Success Stories, ACFR, Workiva

Read Time: minute(s)

Game Changer: City of San Luis
Cuts Weeks from ACFR Process

Project: ACFR Automation
Organization: City of San Luis
Population: 35,770 (2022)
Platform: Workiva

The Need

The small but mighty finance department at the City of San Luis, Arizona, was looking to automate its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) preparation process. Their primary goals were to save as much time as possible and reduce their risk of error. They wanted a streamlined, repeatable process producing a quality, reliable report. 

When FHB met the City’s team, they were relying heavily on hand-keyed data entry. “We were doing the process manually…the financial information was in Excel, and the financial statements, some of that was in Word,” said Monica Castro, CPA, Director of Finance for the City. “There seem to be more errors when you do a lot of manual work. So, that's one of the things that we wanted to improve,” she said. 

As an added challenge, the San Luis team was knee-deep in budget season as they set out to optimize their ACFR process.  


The Right Tool

The FHB team, led by Principal Consultant Faith Olanipekun, CPA, met with the San Luis team to assess their needs. Based on their conversations, FHB recommended that the city implement Workiva. 

As a cloud-based tool, Workiva was great fit for San Luis, allowing multiple people to work on the ACFR simultaneously; the software is also intuitive for anyone who’s used Excel, and specifically designed to support financial reporting.  


Leaving Nothing to Chance

The Partnership 
The notion of cost savings might entice some municipalities to implement software on their own. However, Monica saw the value in a formal, professional implementation. “FHB’s expertise was crucial to the success of the project. I would not have been able to implement Workiva without the help of the FHB team,” she said

“They were always available when we needed them, quick to respond to our questions and provided answers that solved our issues. Their accounting expertise was excellent," she added.

“The implementation was great,” said Carolina Corral, Accountant for San Luis. “Faith was available whenever I needed help. She was good at explaining how to do things.” 

“FHB is a great team to work with. They really helped us through the process, gave us a lot of alternatives, especially with us being a small municipality,” said Monica.  sanluis_timesavings

The Results  
Monica estimates that the ACFR automation project will save her team, "Weeks. Because for instance, the management, discussion, and analysis (MD&A) has a lot of tables in it. Before, we would update the tables in an Excel spreadsheet, then copy and paste it into a Word document. With the new software, the table is already built in that document—as long as you upload the information, it is already linked to pull the information into the note or wherever it belongs.” 

Another benefit of the project is the simplification and automation of formatting, which will improve the standardization and professional appearance of the team’s reports. “Everything will have the same indentation, same margin, same font,” said Monica. 

“Rounding was another thing that caused a lot of headaches throughout the report. So, having a rule for that and making sure that everything gets rounded as to the specifications we want will save more time,” she said. 

Monica’s team now feels comfortable moving forward in Workiva. “The training provided by FHB throughout the process helped us better understand the software and be able to manage it ourselves,” she said.  


Looking Ahead

To ensure Monica’s staff is equipped for success, FHB’s Capstone Training will be invaluable, as it includes a video capturing instructions and demonstrations specific to the City's process. Combined with Aftercare Support, to be provided by the same FHB team members who led the implementation, the training will ensure that the City won’t waste any time with questions or worries about optimal use of the solution.  

In the future, Monica and her team may reengage FHB to help revamp their budget book process. “I definitely see a lot of potential in Workiva,” she said. “Its capabilities are much greater than the other application we have.” 

In the past, she said, “There was always a rush. We were so focused on just getting the document completed, we would just finalize it at a bare minimum. Because of the limited time, we were always working against the clock and just meeting the deadline of having the report out for compliance purposes."

"I definitely think that we will be able to make a better document,
and that's the ultimate goal,” she said.

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

Originally Posted on 03 May, 2024

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