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Is the Cloud the Right Move for Municipal Government Software?

AnywhereCloudImage DataSheets2021 SMALLforBLOGIf you're actively exploring cloud-based options for municipal government software, you’re in good company.

Nationwide, among both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, cloud software adoption has never been stronger. Estimates vary, but the most recent one suggests that 94% of enterprises use cloud-based products. That number is expected to increase, with fewer organizations relying upon site-based systems as the decade progresses.

As more and more local and municipal government software shifts to cloud-based solutions, what’s driving this change? And is cloud-based software the best choice for your local government accounting needs?

Benefits of Cloud Computing for Local Governments

More and more local governments are adopting cloud-based systems for their needs, and that comes as no surprise given the many benefits of cloud computing. Although government entities tend to move more slowly than private sector organizations, more are researching cloud solutions and weighing the pros and cons. They’re doing their homework and discovering why cloud solutions can work very well for government software needs, too.

What’s Driving the Shift to the Cloud?

There are many reasons why town managers are looking into cloud-based government software.

1. Legacy systems require updating
Nationwide, many town managers are realizing that legacy systems need updating. Residents complain that they cannot access certain services online from home. Slow and cumbersome processes take up too much staff time. Many who explore cloud solutions learn to their delight that the new systems can complete in a flash what took two or three times longer on their legacy systems. As managers seek solutions, they’re discovering what the for-profit community has known for a long time: cloud computer software improves the ability to share data between departments in different locations, as well as with the public, in needed.

2. Changes to long-term community management
Many factors are also affecting long-term plans for community management. The global pandemic has forced many communities to create online solutions to in-person tasks. Local areas are seeking ways to move many tasks online to spare manpower and prevent unnecessary in-person contact. In other places around the country, natural disasters are also affecting how governments consider managing the many tasks assigned to them. All of this is causing local managers to seek online solutions.

3. Need to do more with less
Cash-strapped local communities are nothing new, but the pandemic, shifts in the local economy, and other factors are driving tax revenues down in some communities. Governments need to do more with less. Although new software to serve their communities may be essential, the hidden costs associated with onsite equipment, upgrades, and staff to maintain can be staggering and potentially cost-prohibitive.

What Constituents Want: Self-Service Solutions

We’ve heard what local managers need, but what about constituents? The people who live and work in your local community are oftentimes the biggest drivers of change.

Constituents demand self-service solutions from their local governments that match the self-service solutions they’re used to in other areas of their lives. Nearly everyone today manages their banking and bill paying online, checking their balance, moving funds, and paying off bills with the click of a mouse. So too do people manage other important areas of their lives online, including renewing their driver’s licenses and filing their income taxes. They expect their local government to provide similar self-service solutions online, but many localities do not have the computing power to do so.

This is where cloud systems can play a big part in updating local options. Because cloud solutions offer an affordable way to add new software as well as safely and securely manage data storage, municipalities switching to the cloud can add new self-service features to their systems. Transitioning even a few currently in-person services to self-service can make a big difference to your constituents.

Four Benefits of a Cloud Financial Management System to Your Team

Cloud financial management systems offer many benefits. They enable localities to add software and services for constituents that satisfy their need for self-service solutions. But they offer many benefits to your team, too. Here are our top four benefits for your finance team.

1. Adaptive to changing circumstances
One of the great things about cloud software is its ability to quickly and easily adapt to changing circumstances. For example, instead of purchasing hardware and a specific number of software licenses for your office, many cloud platforms enable you to quickly scale up or down as needed, adding users or removing them. This makes it easy to accommodate more employees, such as part-time workers needed to run concession stands or do groundskeeping work in the parks and recreation system during the summer months, or remove them as the season winds down.

2. Decentralizes the decision-making process
If your workplace uses different software packages in each department, you may find it challenging to collaborate on decision-making. Finance must run its report while operations and programming have to run a separate reports and so on, which created siloes and bottlenecks.

When all departments switch to the same cloud-based system, suddenly, everyone can access the same database easily and quickly. Employees can add requests for payment that go through an approval process or public works can add a work order that may be tied to a purchase order.

The result is that representatives from multiple departments can add to the decision-making process, adding their unique take on important matters. Access to the same data ensures that discussion focuses on shared facts rather than assumptions.

3. Automates workflows
Do you know how many processes are completed manually? Many processes can be automated. For example, AccuFund's Requisitions module can create and simplifiy workflows. AccuFund’s Automation Workbench module can automate and streamline complicated tasks.

It may not seem like this saves a lot of time, but the minutes add up, enabling your current workforce to do more creative projects. When repetitive manual tasks can be automated, higher-level tasks can be prioritized, and more can get done with the same amount of staff.

4. Improves security
Cloud networks offer enhanced security. Advanced encryption protects transaction data. Redundant servers ensure physical security so that if one server is compromised by a physical threat, others contain the same data and provide uninterrupted service. Cloud networks also provide better security against denial-of-service (DOS) attacks and other cyber attacks that can bring organizations to their knees.
Most municipalities cannot afford extensive IT security teams. And although you never want to skimp on security, moving to the cloud adds another layer of protection without expenses.

Consider Cloud Software? Here’s What to Ask

We know that switching to the cloud is a big decision. That’s why we put together a white paper with key questions to ask when you’re considering moving to the cloud. To receive your copy, please download Online vs. Onsite.

There are two key questions to keep in mind when you’re shopping for cloud software:
1. Does the software publisher have experience with government agencies?
2. Is the software specifically created for government accounting?

Government financial accounting software offers different solutions to track funds, projects, contracts, permits, inspections, work orders, utility bills, property tax, and much more. Trying to use software created for other industries can be like squishing a square peg into a round hole; you can do it, but you’ll end up losing quite a bit of the peg once it’s shaved off. And who wants the time and expense of customizing software when the right accounting software is available?


AccuFund has over 20 years of experience creating fund accounting solutions. With extensive experience working with local municipalities & towns, tribal governments, special districts, parks & recreation, AccuFund offers a streamlined solution for government nonprofit accounting. Automate processes, control costs, and build a customized solution by choosing the modules that work for you.

With AccuFund, you can:

• Manage contracts, taxes, fees, and purchases more effectively
• Streamline payroll processes
• Generate accurate reports instantly
• Allocate expenses more effectively
• Make better budgetary decisions
• And much more

AccuFund’s browser-native accounting system provides everything local government entities need for financial management success.

Related Materials
Government Financial Management Software
Online vs Onsite. A Government's Guide to Selecting Accounting Software
Register for an AccuFund Accounting Webinar

 

Kristen Faiola