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East Devon Council installs eFinancials to help it meet government reporting needs

Will Hadfield

East Devon District Council has deployed a financial management system to help it meet new reporting requirements from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).

The deployment of CedarOpenAccounts eFinancials was part of a larger project to replace head office systems.

The council already had a reliable system developed in-house, but it could not always provide the detailed management information that was required, said Simon Davey, East Devon District Council's head of finance.

Following a best-value review that looked at overall IT strategy, the council decided it would not replace its in-house system with an overarching enterprise system, but would instead implement best-of-breed applications.

CedarOpenAccounts eFinancials was chosen for its specialist finance functionality.

CedarOpenAccounts chief technology officer Humphrey Sheil said, "We had figured out the council had 90 to 100 touch points [interfaces between IT systems or business processes that require manual intervention]. We reduced that to 12."

East Devon's in-house finance system was a legacy green-screen application. If council officers wanted a new set of data from the system, they had to submit a job sheet to the in-house development team. By the time the system had been redeveloped, the need for the new dataset had often passed.

"With the financial system, it was very much set up so it reported on our committee structure. That was fine, but the management structure was slightly different to that. The green-screen application was very reliable, but you could not manipulate the data at all," said Davey.

When the ODPM set new targets for local authorities, East Devon was stuck with a financial management system that could not be manipulated to produce the information needed.

Another problem with the legacy system was that it had three separate ledger systems. East Devon runs general ledger, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Davey said, "Our financial system was split into three. They were not the same system. It was very difficult to combine the three."

The eFinancials application will allow council officers to more easily access the management information they need from the ledgers.

The council's systems run on Windows 2000, and an Oracle database was installed at the same time as the CedarOpenAccounts eFinancials system.

The eFinancials application is integrated via CedarOpenAccounts Integration Broker 2.0 with two other enterprise applications - Midland's HR and payroll systems.


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