Three Ways Data Helps Finance Officers

March 02, 2020 by Meredith Trimble

Three Ways Data Helps Finance Officers

From managing and analyzing budgets to generating critical reports, finance officers depend on accurate, up-to-date data. Common roadblocks, however, often prevent easy access to such information. Siloed data can hold up aggregation and analysis, and result in inefficiencies such as time-consuming tasks and redundant processes.

Because finance officers play such a critical role in creating and leveraging data integration, their actions can drive connections that eliminate siloes – facilitating more streamlined internal operations and better community service.

Following are three ways creating connections around data can give finance directors and their communities substantive wins.

1. Connect Departments

Software incompatibilities and paper processes can create walls that keep data locked in departments or agencies. This is evident in many scenarios. In construction of a new commercial property, for example, relevant information exists in planning, permitting, and tax assessment departments, among others. A finance officer’s access to project information around fees and tax revenue is limited when information must be requested, tracked down, and manually transmitted.

When key information is connected between departments, digital documents are immediately available to finance and other staff throughout the project’s evolution. What’s more, streamlined workflows can automatically trigger inspections, permitting, and tax appraisal tasks. All of this puts key budget-related data in the hands of finance with just a click of a button, providing a more complete view of finances, instead of segmented or stale snapshots. Having the bigger picture at hand provides more informed insights and more accurate performance measurement, both of which facilitate improved financial outcomes.

2. Connect Citizens to Government

Many finance officers can relate to spending significant time digging for information to respond to requests from elected officials, the public, or other departments. Oftentimes, answers require data from multiple departments, leading to a series of inquiries and dozens of emails. Connecting a government’s information to all stakeholders through publicly accessible portals not only empowers stakeholders to access accurate information on their own, (financial information isn’t held hostage when the finance officer is unavailable), it frees up the finance department’s time from tracking down, assembling, and passing on information.

When communication is two-way and allows residents to self-report 311 issues, automated systems can trigger work orders, asset deployment, employee scheduling, reporting, and more. This not only increases transparency, public service, and public trust, it provides personnel and asset costs as they occur, for increased financial insight and more informed decisions.

3. Connect Internal Processes

On the expense side of the ledger, connections create efficiencies that improve a government’s bottom line. Automated processes that move through integrated systems end redundant and manual data entry. Instead of employees in multiple departments keying in the same information, these employees are now free to work on more strategic priorities. At once, overtime is reduced, and data integrity is increased. Because the data stream is integrated and not siloed, all departments are looking at the same information. Having a “single source of truth” ensures that everyone is looking at and operating from accurate numbers.

Digitized documents can be attached to files or orders as they wind their way through the system, negating the need to file – and later retrieve – paper documents. Purchase orders and invoices are automatically attached to projects and remain accessible; a great help during audit season when supporting documentation may be needed.

Take a deeper dive into these three areas of connection here and learn more about breaking down silos to transform operations improve communities.


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