Islington Council is on track to reduce its core finance costs by 40 per cent, amounting to £3 million, supported by its implementation of Collaborative Planning, a budgeting and forecasting solution from Advanced Business Solutions (Advanced).
Advanced’s solution has assisted the Council following its implementation in 2010, by improving financial transparency and devolving greater responsibility to budget holders. It has recently gone live with the latest version of Collaborative Planning in preparation for managing further required cuts of £34 million in 2015.
Islington is the eighth most deprived borough in England and a significant proportion of the Council’s finances are required to support children and adult social care services. Government funding restrictions have required it to reduce controllable spend by 35 per cent since 2010. But manual processes restricted its ability to interpret its financial position and make informed decisions.
Alan Layton, Director of Financial Management at Islington Council, explains: “Previously it was almost impossible to gather accurate forecasting information within a reasonable time scale, plus there was a high risk of error due to our protracted consolidation process involving numerous complicated spreadsheets.
“Collaborative Planning offered the added functionality and flexibility we needed and could crucially integrate with our existing Advanced financial management system. We can now quickly produce reliable monthly forecasting information, with minimal effort, and better understand our data.”
By replacing spreadsheets, Advanced’s web-based solution has automated and devolved the Council’s entire budget monitoring process, making it easier to access and analyse real-time financial information.
It empowers budget holders to submit, approve and compare budgets with forecasts to monitor performance against targets, while enabling finance to focus on adding greater strategic value.
The intuitive system can also be configured to consider ‘what if’ scenarios to assess the impact of potential changes to funding. Data is automatically extracted and displayed across related plans, budgets and forecasts so that remedial action can be prepared for in advance.
Alan Layton comments: “The budgeting and forecasting solution has eliminated various labour intensive processes, which will enable us to reduce our core finance costs by 40 per cent, amounting to over £3 million. It has also been instrumental in keeping tight financial control of our budgets.”
“Implementing the latest version of Collaborative Planning has enabled us to move to a single revenue model to further improve efficiency and to focus on risk.”