TechnologyOne Sponsored Local Government User Group: Key takeaways

Headed up by Dominic Bradley, Head of Finance at Horsham District Council, the inaugural TechnologyOne Sponsored Local Government User Group took place on Wednesday 23 January 2019. Local councils from across the country were in attendance, coming together to hear and learn from each other while also getting a first-hand view of the exciting updates in the works from TechnologyOne. Here are the key takeaways from last week’s event:

1. Hitting the big red button with CIPFA

Closing accounts can often be seen as a drain on resources due to ongoing public financial management and arduous processes to navigate.

Mark Hak-Sanders, a Senior Consultant with the CIPFA Advisory Service, explained to the group that having “worked with local authorities on account close downs for many years, the more structure users can put around this process, the easier and more effective it will be.”

He went on to talk about the CIPFA toolkit, which is powered by TechnologyOne, and its role in automating processes and not replacing local authorities’ expertise.

Hak-Sanders continued: “We don’t want to just automate the process, we want to make it more accurate as well. There are hundreds of validation checks throughout the software and it’s built on the principle of a single-entry point for all figures within the accounts”.

The software creates a product management regime around the account’s close-down process and helps to allocate close-down tasks to individual users. Hak-Sanders highlighted that the software is “designed to release the time spent carrying out these tasks, allowing users to take up more value-added activities.”

2. Don’t be afraid to upgrade

“Do I really want to upgrade, what happens if I lose my data and does my team have time to facilitate this?”

Jonathan Williamson, SaaS Director UK at TechnologyOne is all too familiar with these concerns and assured attendees that the upgrade process for Ci Anywhere is a straight-forward process to carry out.

With backups taken of your environment every 15 minutes, there’s no risk of losing your current data. Upgrades can also be scheduled to take place overnight, for minimal disruption during working hours. A strong focus on research and development to deliver ongoing enhancements means that Ci Anywhere users have the opportunity to upgrade twice a year.

3. Test, test and test again

Sean Missin, Procurement Officer at South Cambridge District Council (SCDC) highlighted the importance of agility during new project implementations, and outlined how this has helped the council overcome the hurdles of GDPR and data migration.

Having run into issues when the council initially migrated its data, the team at SCDC decided to adopt a phased approach to its data migration.

Missin explained: “At the point of go live, the data upload had been practiced over and over again, until the process was refined and down to the shortest lead time possible. The reality of achieving this involved creating custom scripts to take the data from the existing system and converting it into a format which could easily be imported into TechnologyOne”.

Missin added that because of this, the User Acceptance Testing (UAT) process was “very smooth”.

With a focus on testing and hard work from the teams at South Cambridge District Council, Cambridge City Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and TechnologyOne, the solution went live four days ahead of schedule.

“Together with TechnologyOne we were really ambitious about what we wanted to achieve. It’s certainly fair to say that it took the hard work of staff from SCDC, City, Huntingdon and TechnologyOne to make those ambitions a reality.

“We now have a true electronic Procure-to-Pay process and most importantly, we now have a common platform with our partners and share an accounts coding structure,” Missin said.

4. Staying compliant

Anwen Robinson Operating Officer UK at TechnologyOne provided an update on strategic UK developments. She also announced that TechnologyOne is now listed on the HMRC website as suppliers with software packages that are compatible with Making Tax Digital.

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