System improves staff morale
Few people would agree to do twice the work in the same amount of hours, to limit vacation time or to work extra hours without more pay. But that is exactly what the employees in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., voted to do when 14 new software applications – most of which were finance related – were installed on the computer system. Employee enthusiasm for the new applications cut the city’s installation time in half, from two years to one year. “Right now, we are at least 30 percent more efficient than we were before,” says Finance Director Gail Abraham. “And we are still learning all that the system can do.,, Centralizing all the county accounting functions from government management and budgetary accounting (GMBA) to purchasing/inventory and accounts receivable has made the city run more efficiently. GMBA is the heart of the accounting system, and it has contributed to increased efficiency by using encumbrance accounting to control expenditures.
Purchasing/inventory has eliminated a complicated requisition and fulfillment process, and accounts receivable provides greater flexibility in billing and record-keeping by linking remote sites with the main accounting office. “Unlike most municipalities, Fort Walton Beach has 20 off-site locations, some of which are four miles to five miles from city hall,” MIS Director Dominick Fiorentino says.
“This is the first time all locations of city operations – including those that take in cash – have been linked, giving us up-to-the-minute detail,” Abraham says.Before, we didn’t know what the receivables were from places like the golf course, tennis center, museum and other recreational areas until we closed at the end of the month. Now, if we take in cash anywhere, it shows up on the system immediately.”
Having the city operations connected and going through the installation process has also produced an unforeseen advantage. “A benefit we did not expect is the improved morale in the city,”Abraham says. This has made everyone feel like a part of a team.”
This spirit was fostered by management, which solicited employee input in every step of the decision-making process and committed to extensive training. City personnel spent nine months planning the installation process, reviewing policies and procedures and identifying important job functions in each department.
“Not only were employees enthusiastic about the change and highly motivated to participate in the training, but we also had the support of the mayor and city council,” Fiorentino says.It is amazing what people have pulled together to accomplish in a limited amount of time,,, Fiorentino says. This is not the effort of a few people – it took the whole team to make it work.”