The County of Berks needed to find a financial system capable of seamlessly integrating its complex systems and large network of accounting and finance departments into one easy-to-use solution. Like many financial departments, the end of month reporting task was becoming a stressful and frustrating process, made worse by the disparities between the complex organization. Ronald Rutkowski, Deputy Controller for the County of Berks, asked himself: “How do we tie the 67 departments, the 70 boroughs and townships tax collectors, the Magisterial District Courts within the county itself together in a financial undertaking where everything is more consistent than it had been in the past?”
The County of Berks undertook a journey of discovery and significant research to see what solutions were available in the market. Ronald quickly recognized the simplicity of SplashBI’s GL Connect; he appreciated the simple dashboard in GL Connect to create reports and the fact it functions seamlessly within the comfort of Excel. After attending many pitch presentations, he came to observe that SplashBI and GL Connect ‘had the WOW factor’, and felt excited for the potential with the solution.
GL Connect: A closer look
One of the first challenges for the County of Berks to consider was how to consolidate over 250 individual reports into one location on a single platform. Ronald notes that this was when they began taking a closer look at the possibilities within GL Connect and when he discovered it was going to be possible to take a number of products and replace them with one solution.
As part of the implementation process, the County of Berks scheduled a three-day training session with representatives from the budget, controller and purchasing departments, who then came together as a group and started creating reports. Ronald notes: “Creating our financial reports was beyond anything that I could have thought possible. Within the team, those that recognized the power behind it really grasped it and they ran with it. It was really encouraging and really exciting for me to see.” The team’s strongest users converted many of their reports over a period of two months, time permitting alongside their day to day duties, enabling them to simply change the adjustment period, account segments and various parameters to gain new results and creating enormous time savings.
Ronald continues: ‘’After realizing what kind of savings we were going to have over five years, I was ecstatic, and I felt like I gained forty years of my life.’’ Looking at a period of five years; the man-hours and salaries the County of Berks is expected to save amounts to a substantial total of $343,000. However, the County of Berks was not looking to reduce the number of employees. One of the challenges experienced within the organization is the number of functions linked with finance and accounting; there are 60+ departments in the county that are currently treated as separate business units and each has their own uniqueness. The goal was to improve their financial systems and streamline these functions for the benefit of the employees.
Using GL Connect for day-to-day reporting and understanding the financials is much easier than with the previous solution County of Berks had experience of using. Ronald explains: “Walking through the tool and discovering the functions gives the end user a clearer practical understanding, as it is designed with ease of use in mind. Using GL Connect, we are now able to accurately drill down into data and see exactly what is happening within our Excel spreadsheets. For us, this is where the power of the tool lies.”
Another benefit Ronald and his team have found is the integration of Oracle real-time transactional data, which they can pull into spreadsheets to see exactly what’s going on at any given moment, enabling the team to make changes in an instant. This benefit has merit during the reconciliation of dozens of bank statements, grants receivables and payables.
The sky is the limit
In order to promote efficiency and make processes simpler when completing financial tasks, Ronald is promoting the use of GL Connect throughout the county. Ronald adds: “I truly believe the solution gives the end user better utilization and a better understanding, even to the point of cross training and a functional comprehension of what they’re looking for.’’
Ronald’s team can create straightforward tools for other departments to complete their reconciliation and, within the near future, this process will be automated by putting the data in a simpler format to be as uncomplicated as possible. The first eight months of Ronald’s experience has been focused on the GL Connect tool; however, all accountants are going to be trained, to in turn mentor their own departments, to use the complementary SplashBI ad hoc reporting tool which will be rolled out in earnest over the next six months and used to create trial balances amongst other reports. At a future date, Ronald plans to be able to transfer the FSGs over to the SplashBI tool which will streamline the units and create a more cohesive business function.
Ronald also intends to revisit all departments to discover which reports they are currently generating on a regular monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Using his expertise with GL Connect, it will be possible to develop user-designed reports and give departments the ability to run or schedule them themselves. Ronald concludes: “After teaming up with the budget and finance office and working collaboratively to overhaul the entire system, we are now confident that when it comes to our financial reporting, the sky is the limit!”