What is our primary use case?
We use it for budget development and revenue forecasting, and it's performing quite well right now.
There have been some minor hiccups, not with the BOARD platform itself, but it's just the learning, getting familiar with the product, and the end-user accepting the application. In a government organization, there has been some struggle to get people to use the tool, versus what they've used before.
I don't think it's the learning curve, because the way New Brain designed the application for us, it's fairly user friendly. I think it's more of a hesitancy to stop inputting things on Excel spreadsheets and then inputting things into the BOARD software itself. We're only about a year and a half into it, and what I'm finding is that they kept both. They've kept their Excel sheets. So they are doing double entry. They're were doing entry into Excel as well as entry into the BOARD system, because they didn't quite trust the application yet. Now that we're in year two, the second budget season with the system, they've stopped using some of those Excel spreadsheets. They're relying more on the BOARD application itself.
How has it helped my organization?
The way that we designed the personal service forecasting module - about 80% of our operating budget is personal-service related in government. The way that it allows us to take all the variables in, and do a lot of "what if" scenario planning on it, I think is the greatest benefit.
What is most valuable?
For me, because I do a lot of the administration of the system, it's just how easy it was to set up and how easy it is to maintain.
What needs improvement?
Being only about a year and a half into using the tool, I don't think I know enough of what's still possible. I'm excited to learn about the e-learning tool and the community that's just starting out.
If I was to look at it, from my point of view, there's a lot of report writing that we have to do in the government sector, so maybe explaining how we integrate with, for example, a publishing software, would be helpful.
For how long have I used the solution?
One to three years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It wasn't because of BOARD, it was more because we have integrated it with our ERP system, and we have made changes in our ERP system without filtering those through to our BOARD software. So it wasn't BOARD, it was really a self-inflicted kind situation.
The platform has worked wonderfully for us. There haven't been any issues that I've seen with the platform. In fact, we're looking at - maybe in the next year, or next two years - integrating more into it, really expanding what we're currently using it for, which is just budgets; to look at it and see what else we can do with it. It's very customizable.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
I think there's a lot more that we could be doing. Right now it's just really budgets that we're using it for. I'm really interested in learning how we can use BEAM for our revenue forecasting, or revenue predictive analytics; how we use that in a government setting. The tools that we have now are really just Excel.
How are customer service and technical support?
Excellent. We've only done it through their online technical support, but we have had where we couldn't just solve it through an email, and they have been really very good about setting up time for us to make service calls with them. I love their technical support.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
The budget system that we were using prior to investing in BOARD was written back in the early 90s, and it had a hard-coded date in there that it would not let us to do any forecasting beyond the year 2017. So we were forced into looking at another application. I spent about a year looking at applications.
I chose BOARD because of the way that I was able to change it over time and integrate, not only a line-item budget, but also a strategic budget. I was able to bring in all those other pieces into it, and it wasn't just strictly an accounting stream. I am able to do more of the predictive analytics and the forecasting, and move the city into that direction instead of just the numbers.
How was the initial setup?
We worked with New Brain. New Brain made it really easy for us to learn the tool. They spent a lot of time with us just talking through the business. Working in the Finance department, we had to integrate - since the Finance department is decentralized, the capital budgets were done in a different department. New Brain really helped me work with the capital folks to identify their business process. They didn't even know all of their business process. So it was really nice that New Brain was able to help with all of those conversations, and help us even streamline our business processes within capital.
With New Brain, it was all about their experience with other local municipalities, and working with governments in fund accounting. Fund accounting is quite different from private business accounting. That's what drew us to New Brain, not only the BOARD application, but also their background in working with government.
What other advice do I have?
Technical support is definitely a 10 out of 10. The system solution is about a nine out of 10, and the only reason why I would give it a nine and not a 10, is that it still takes IT folks to really support it. It's not totally able to be supported within Finance. Given the amount of resources that a government has, we have a very small IT staff, and the departments are more relied upon to do their own IT. That's the only reason why I would give it a nine.
I like this solution because it's so versatile, you can really model it after your specific business practices. It's not the case that you might have to change your business practices to fit into it.