Government Reporting: We Built This City on Workiva
Even without the pressure of updating budgets quickly due to changing conditions, manual and disjointed processes can lead to inefficiencies and major errors in government financial reports.
Jenny Larson remembers when this was the case for the City of Dubuque, Iowa, several years ago. The budget process was disconnected—too many applications, too many document versions, and too many menial tasks. When a significant error was made in which one revenue number was entered twice into the city budget, the city sought out a solution to prevent future missteps and implemented the Workiva platform. The software allowed employees to avoid error and focus their time on higher value work.
"With having such a manual process of putting documents together for City Council, it took a lot of time, and it was time that we could have focused in other areas," said Jenny, Director of Finance and Budget for the city. "So now that we've regained that time, we can spend a lot more time doing community engagement on the budget and improving other areas of the budget and working on some of our other processes."
Government finance teams no longer need to be strapped for time—taking hours to update their reports, manually entering data, or worrying about their budget’s format opposed to the budget itself. That's especially important today.
In a conference hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Municipal Securities, buy-side panelists noted that more frequent disclosures are critical in helping them decide what securities to hold as the pandemic affects issuers' revenues and expenses.
These three cities—Pittsburgh, Pa.; Missoula, Mont.; and Dubuque, Iowa—all adopted Workiva to improve their government reporting. They have shared with us how and why they use connected reporting.
More time for the important stuff: community engagement, budget planning, and more
Time is money, and no one wants to waste it on data entry or other manual tasks. Dubuque, Missoula, and Pittsburgh have used Workiva to eliminate their dependencies on traditional desktop tools. In turn, this freed up time to be spent on community engagement, budget planning, city council meetings, and more.
“Before Workiva, we were coming in on nights and weekends to implement last-minute changes. With Workiva, we rarely need to.”
—Patrick Cornell, Senior Budget Analyst in the Office of Management and Budget, City of Pittsburgh
For our City of Pittsburgh users, Workiva caused a drastic improvement in their schedules—a win for their employees.
“Before Workiva, we were coming in on nights and weekends to implement last-minute changes," says Patrick Cornell, Senior Budget Analyst in the Office of Management and Budget, City of Pittsburgh. "With Workiva, we rarely need to.”
In Dubuque, more didn’t necessarily mean better. The implementation of the Workiva platform slashed the number of applications used in their budget process from five to two. With all of their documents now in one central location, the budget is quicker and simpler to edit. This allows their city manager more time to weigh their options while making important decisions.
Over in Montana, Missoula's budget process was streamlined so much that their first budget import into their ERP happened three months earlier than the previous year. This freed up dozens of hours to be spent elsewhere.
Former City of Missoula Financial Reporting Supervisor and Budget Manager Scott Paasch and his team used to spend the first 40 minutes of their day inputting data manually. Thanks to connectors that are part of the Workiva platform, this is no longer the case: they can connect data directly.
Connecting departments by linking documents to a single source of information
The Workiva platform provides a single source of information and allows collaboration across teams, business units, and stakeholders.
Dubuque has used Workiva to overhaul their disjointed system. Their previous process that led to budget errors is a thing of the past. They have connected data, documents, and processes across their 28 departments. They started using Workiva for their budget but moved on to report many other aspects of business, including:
- Property tax projections
- State reporting
- Certified annual financial reports
- Fleet vehicle inspections
“Workiva is an excellent product that will solve problems you don’t even realize you have until you start implementing it," said Jenny. "It’s exciting to use because as you implement one thing, you think of other processes you can also improve by using the platform.”
Missoula and Pittsburgh also anticipate the expansion of their use of Workiva across departments. In Missoula, the sky’s the limit.
They plan on marrying the financial data Scott’s team uses with datasets from other departments that use programs outside the ERP to create additional reports—from the utilities commission to recreation programs.
"Workiva is an excellent product that will solve problems you don’t even realize you have."
—Jenny Larson, Director of Finance & Budget Manager, City of Dubuque
Patrick said, “A collaborative approach is more modern and accessible.” He knows that transparency and collaboration citywide is a necessary next step to revolutionize their reporting. Patrick anticipated that the City of Pittsburgh would leverage Workiva for many other projects, including quarterly expenditure reports and other department documents.
Additionally, this ability to collaborate across teams and all stakeholders is particularly useful while working from home. A single source of truth allows for accurate, real-time changes—ideal for the virtual workplace.
Workiva stands out among users and leaders
The City of Dubuque requested demos from multiple vendors before choosing a solution, but Workiva stood out. “All the other options were kind of standard,” said Jenny. “It honestly blew our minds when we saw the demo of the Workiva solution and tried to grasp all of the different things we could do with it even outside of budget reporting.”
"It honestly blew our minds when we saw the demo of the Workiva solution."
—Jenny Larson, Director of Finance & Budget Manager, City of Dubuque
In these three cities, the benefits of Workiva have been incredible, and government officials are impressed. “Our leadership was in awe at the speed and accuracy of Workiva,” said Patrick.
According to Patrick, Workiva is the future of government reporting. He has called the solution “streamlined, logical, and intuitive.”
The city councils of the cities have also seen the benefits that Workiva has brought to their budget processes. It’s rare that a recommended budget does not need edits. So, immediately following city council meetings, budget documents can be updated and any changes cascade through all linked files.
"I would highly recommend Workiva," said Scott, who happens to work at Workiva these days. "I would say look at what you're doing and ask how you can do it better. This can be a tool that can make it a lot easier."