East Dorset District Council and Christchurch Borough Council are implementing a financial management system from Advanced Business Solutions (ABS) as part of a wider shared service agreement.
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Vic Smith, finance projects manager at East Dorset District Council, says, "We recognised that moving to an updated, shared platform with Christchurch Borough Council would deliver significant cost savings for the two authorities and provide the opportunity to benefit from the new system's advanced functionality."
The new system includes electronic procurement, budgeting and forecasting, as well as business intelligence functionality. Smith says, "We currently use spreadsheets to consolidate our budgets, which is very protracted. ABS's system will enable service managers and the finance team to compile budgetary plans directly into one integrated system and monitor their costs in real time. This will save time and improve budget preparation efficiency as budget holders will be able to access the information they need quickly and easily."
The shared service is expected to improve budgeting efficiency and financial transparency. The planned go-live is April 2012.
Shared services are being used within local government to drive down costs. But a hasty move to shared services driven by a need to slash budgets could lead to greater inflexibility in certain areas of the public sector, warns Jos Creese, president of Socitm.