But don’t take our word for it …
In case you haven’t heard, ClearGov’s youngest product officially turns one next month. And like most parents, we couldn’t be more proud.
Born out of necessity, ClearGov Budgets is the product of hundreds of conversations with finance committee members and local administrators who confided to us their frustration with the annual budgeting process. We heard over and over again horror stories about spreadsheets with broken formulas, sketchy paper trails, and legacy accounting systems built for everything but the unique number-crunching needs of local governments. We knew there had to be a better way, and when we couldn’t find it we started building one ourselves. The rest as they say is history.
Since launching ClearGov Budgets last year, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback from early adopters. And, now, with a full budget season in the books for many clients, we decided to circle back and see if budgeting with ClearGov has changed how they feel about the process. Spoiler alert: It has — big time!
“It’s cut the time we spend budgeting IN HALF!”
The Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum” translates to “everything that comes in threes is perfect.”Concedo. Three different clients told us just last week alone that using ClearGov helped them create, approve, and publish their annual budget in record time.
Sean O’Brien, special assistant to the finance director for the Town of Natick, Massachusetts, told us that ClearGov has been very well received by his finance team, “ClearGov Budgets saves our administration and committee members significant time!”
Natick officials now use ClearGov to collaborate throughout the annual budget process in real time. In addition to promoting internal transparency between department heads and administrators, ClearGov has eliminated the version control headaches O’Brien struggled with in the past.
One of the key reasons we built ClearGov was to offer towns like Natick a more modern, cloud-based alternative to manually managing and merging spreadsheets — a common practice that’s become increasingly cumbersome and inefficient, especially for the unique needs of municipalities and school districts. While programs like Excel are good for organizing and calculating static data, they’re not made for real-time collaboration — and they certainly weren’t built with local governments in mind.
As anyone who has used Excel across departments knows, things can get complicated fast and it’s very easy to break a formula. One false move — one wrong cut and paste — can derail the entire budget process. And, trying to find the error and correct it can set you back hours, days, or even weeks.
Case in point, Georgetown administrator Michael Farrell was managing as many as 43 linked spreadsheets — and multiple versions to boot — before switching to ClearGov back in February. Farrell said when it came to budgeting with spreadsheets, “the whole thing could go wrong, and often did.”
Now, the town administrator simply builds the budget online, inviting contributors to create, share, and collaborate in one shared master file. Team members can easily comment and attach relevant supporting documents to any line item and ClearGov automatically creates an audit trail.
Natick’s Sean O’Brien said this ability to annotate significant budget changes and include relevant attachments was a game changer for his team as well. “In the past, changes and new initiatives were captured as footnotes in a presentation. Now, all the info we need is on one line and we can easily open it up for review in our hearings.”
Getting everyone on the same virtual page
O’Brien said that using ClearGov has led to “more productive and efficient public hearings” for the Town of Natick. Budget meetings used to involve thumbing through paper printouts and jockeying to get everyone — both literally and figuratively — on the same page. Now the administrative team simply connects a laptop to a large TV monitor and goes through the budget, line item by line item, so everyone in attendance can easily see changes as they’re made.
No Pain, All Gain
Another town administrator confided that he practically felt guilty about how much easier the annual budget process had become using ClearGov. We totally get it. When you no longer have to spend your days neck-deep in spreadsheets looking for that one rogue cell that’s messing everything up, it sort of feels like a dereliction of duty. It’s not. The expression, “no pain, no gain” is an exercise motto after all, not a measure of effective budgeting. In this case, the easier and more efficient routine generates the strongest, most sustainable results.
Eliminating the frustrating and painful part of your work day is a good thing. It frees you up to focus more on the strategy part of budgeting and less on the tedious, manual tasks that eat away at your productivity (and your sanity). Plus, think of all the other stuff you could move off that perpetually simmering back burner and onto your suddenly less crowded plate. No guilt. No pain. Nothing but gain.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can streamline your annual budgeting process using ClearGov Budgets (our precocious little one year old), now is the perfect time to request a demo. We’re offering special birthday incentives to any local government that signs up by the end of the year! Don’t miss out.