The City of Reno, NV faced a common problem for mid sized municipalities: a sprawling, seemingly untamable, bureaucratic budgeting process. The budget was spread across dozens of departments, each contributing to dozens of programs, with complexity increasing exponentially at every level of the organization. Reno was looking for a solution that delivered them accelerated financial decision making and certainty in the midst of chaos.
In an attempt to make budgeting an orderly and streamlined process, each department was required to provide a number of standardized reports to be compiled into the citywide budget. The Budget Manager would create and distribute each of the required component documents for department and program managers to update, but there was no way to ensure that each document returned with the desired layout and formatting. And once all the department and program level information was returned, the task of compiling all the files into one coherent budget, not to mention managing document changes during this process, was a multi-week process fraught with version control issues and discrepancies.
To compound the issue, when it comes to public money and programs, every penny has to be accounted for, so the city Budget Manager had to amass an army of temps and poach headcount wherever he could to collect, standardize, check, and combine data manually. Once complete, the budget would be reviewed by the City Manager and the City Council, each of whom could send the budget back for changes as program priorities shifted, starting the entire process over again. For each budget, the process took half the year and staff turnover was rampant, which hurt morale and productivity.
The city turned to A3 and took advantage of A3 Modeling’s ability to work both directly from the city’s existing Excel model and A3’s ability to digest unstructured data. Now, in addition to the usual financial results, the compiled City Budget includes org charts, program notes, and other narrative, all properly version controlled and fully auditable, which gives the raw financial data context. All department and program managers’ submissions are now entered directly into A3 Modeling so, as data changes, the overall budget updates in real time.
The effect on the city is immense. HR costs plummeted as the Budget Manager can now manage the entire budget process with only one assistant. No more armies of temps and no more hijacking staff from other departments to do dreary work. Turnover is down as well. Best of all, real time budgets don’t need to be manually organized and compiled anymore, they simply compile and print with a touch of a button.