Council streamlines accounting processes*

A New South Wales Council has streamlined accounting processes by restructuring its General Ledger using Civica’s Authority software applications

The former Gosford City Council – now part of the recently created Central Coast Council – can respond more quickly to residents’ changing needs after Civica, a market leader in specialist software and services for local government, helped streamline the council’s key accounting processes by restructuring the General Ledger (GL). As a result, the council has saved time and money, which would have previously been spent collecting and analysing data from a variety of sources.

A key outcome of the project, titled The General Ledger Restructure, is that it allows council officers to make more informed and rapid decisions on funding projects, including faster reporting on the total cost of services, financial statements and budgets.

Council is responsible for maintaining and developing new services on the NSW Central Coast that includes large sections of state forest, national parks, nature reserves, beaches and waterways. In 2015, the former Gosford City Council funded more than $300 million in local projects. All transactions related to the delivery of council services and operations are recorded on the GL – including financial information from subsidiary ledgers, such as accounts receivable/payable, rates income and assets.

Prior to undertaking the GL project, the council would reconcile the GL with subsidiary ledgers manually each month. This manual approach required extensive training and supervision of employees to ensure the ledgers were adequately maintained. For every report, accountants needed to download data into spreadsheets and manually update to ensure the information was accurate and consistent. As a result, finalising reports would take a vast amount of time, while the senior management team also spent hours checking for discrepancies in the old general ledger.

The former Gosford City Council also chose the Civica Authority’s Business Intelligence (BIS) reporting tool to allow data to be analysed from across the organisation, provide almost real time reporting of its financial position, as well as reduce operational costs and administration time.

Central Coast Council’s new Executive Manager of Transition and Business Performance (and the former Gosford City Council’s Executive Manager of Performance and Strategy) Janine McKenzie said the streamlining of accounting structures was critical to the delivery of services to residents.

“The project was formed as part of a drive for greater efficiency and value to our community. We chose to not only structure our accounts around our specific services, but also to have two other hierarchies of organisation structure and financial reporting requirements to ensure that information is accessible and easy to produce for everyone who needs it,” Ms McKenzie said.

With the project, managers are now able to view financial information at any time through Civica’s BIS tool without having to make a formal request with the finance team. Moreover, this allows finance to focus on tasks which will add value, such as providing insights and advice to managers regarding fund allocation.

As one of the council’s most important financial documents, Gosford worked with Civica specialists to ensure the security of the general and subsidiary ledgers was implemented at both the hardware and software levels.

Initial access to the system is restricted by individual user code and password, with access to full application functionality restricted to the Council’s accounting employees.

“The needs of our residents are constantly changing and becoming increasingly complex. The Civica Authority Financial solution has been tried and tested with hundreds of councils around the world. With the General Ledger Restructure program now completed, we can make better informed decisions based on highly accurate data,” said Ms McKenzie.

Civica’s Authority Enterprise solution is used by more than 180 local governments throughout Australia and New Zealand. The General Ledger module is part of Authority’s Financial Applications.

*Copy supplied by Civica.