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Stephanie Bartlett | Jul 02, 2024

How State Governments Provide Financial Transparency

State governments face increased scrutiny to ensure fiscal responsibility while best serving their communities.  Accordingly, transparency and accountability are critically important as state government leaders must respond to various political and economic pressures.  Why?  To show what impacts the government is achieving.  Government Finance teams therefore need trusted, accurate and timely data, now more than ever, to make the right decisions for the state.  In turn, by moving away from spreadsheets and optimizing Finance processes and technology, state governments provide financial transparency, gain better insights and collaborate more effectively.

Why Transparency Creates Significant Benefits for Finance Teams

Increasing transparency provides huge benefits to government Finance teams.  In what ways?  To start, increased transparency helps the Finance team align with other departments, projects and programs.  By having one source of trusted data across the government, teams can better track performance and understand the impact of different factors.  Having the right technology and processes in place thus comes with the following gains, among others:

  • Improved Variance Analysis:  Quickly understand differences between budgeted and actual expenditures throughout the year to better identify and manage deviations.
  • Enhanced Communication:  Leverage robust reporting and visualization capabilities, helping leadership communicate key insights, impacts and recommendations more effectively to internal and external stakeholders.
  • Better Collaboration:  Enable different functions and services with the necessary data and insights whenever and wherever needed to increase confidence and accelerate decision-making.

What’s Preventing Transparency?

Today, many states are up against the constraints of Excel and outdated legacy systems, disconnected Finance processes, and inefficient analytics tools.  These disconnected tools have fueled a lack of agility, cumbersome processes and siloed decision-making.  Simply put, the solutions in place aren’t built to work together and thus make data quality management and transparency incredibly difficult.  Why?

When little or no connectivity exists between systems, state governments are forced to rely heavily on Excel.  The impact on users is significant.  For instance, they must manually retrieve data from one system, manually transform the data and then load it into another system – leaving no traceability.  This lack of robust data quality and tracking capabilities creates a multitude of problems.  Here are just a few:

  • Poor data input with limited validation, affecting trust and confidence in the numbers.
  • High number of manual tasks, lowering overall data quality, increasing risk and adding latency to processes.
  • No data lineage, preventing drill-down and drill-back capabilities and adding time and manual effort when accessing actionable information for every number.

With all the time spent reconciling data and managing workarounds, Finance teams struggle to keep up.  What does it mean?  It means there’s no time to better navigate resource management, optimize funding allocations and improve essential services to the community.

What Is the Solution?

The solution to a heavy reliance on Excel and disconnected systems is as simple as transitioning to newer tools and technology.  Why?  They have more effective integration and built-in validation and control compared to past solutions, which will save time, provide more transparency and reduce risk.

To improve efficiency, data quality and transparency, states must do the following:

  1. Define quality:  Determine what quality means, agree on the definition and set metrics to achieve the level that instills the most confidence.
  1. Streamline collection of data:  Minimize the number of disparate systems and ensure integrations use world-class technology with consistency in the data integration processes.
  2. Identify the importance of data:  Know which data is the most critical for the government and start there, then gradually move on only when ready.

At its core, a unified Finance platform such as OneStream with built-in financial data is critical for state governments to drive effective transformation across Finance and different functions and services.  What key requirements should be considered?  Here are a few key functions:

  • 100% visibility from reports to data sources, so all financial and operational data is visible and easily accessible.
  • One source of truth for all financial and operational data.
  • Guided workflows to protect users from complexity and manual oversights.

How Does OneStream Help State Governments Provide Financial Transparency?

OneStream is a modern Finance platform built to help state governments gain agility and increase transparency.  With OneStream, state governments can accelerate and simplify Finance processes across the Office of Finance and business units.  The platform uniquely enables organizations to complete planning, reporting, analysis and financial consolidation processes all on a uniquely unified platform.  How?  OneStream brings together all financial and operational data, embeds AI for better decisions and productivity, and lets states keep adding capabilities without adding technical debt (see Figure 1).

Figure 1:  Gain trusted insights into financial and operational data with OneStream.

In addition, OneStream’s unified platform offers market-leading data integration capabilities with seamless connections to any source, including accounting, financial management and HR.  Those capabilities provide unparalleled flexibility and visibility into the data loading and integration process.

Data quality management is a core part of OneStream’s unified platform and helps ensure state governments provide financial transparency.  How?  By providing strict controls to deliver confidence and reliability, the platform empowers state governments to do the following:

  • Manage data quality risks using fully auditable integration maps and validations at every stage of the process, from integration to reporting
  • Automate data via direct connections to source databases or any file format.
  • Drill down, drill back and drill through to transactional details for full traceability of every number.

Conclusion

Demands for accuracy, transparency and trust are ever-present in financial and operational reporting, analysis and planning given the detail level needed to guide state governments.  Accordingly, government Finance teams looking to create a strategy to improve data quality and transparency need a Finance platform that improves transparency, insights and efficiency.

Learn More

Learn more about how OneStream can help state governments gain confidence in their data and provide more transparency to stakeholders.

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