The Official Blog of Forecast5 Analytics

Jody Smith
Jody Smith

Budget, Local-Governments, Forecasting, 5Cast

The Good, the Bad and the Immaterial: Strategies for Defining and Sharing Financial Information

Posted on Jul 17, 2017 8:27:02 AM

Management of a municipality’s budget is a never-ending game of three-dimensional chess played on the back of a flatbed truck. You have to consider every move you make from multiple angles and you never know when a bump in the road is going to shake things up. If that’s not enough, you’re constantly reporting to stakeholders on the status of the game while planning moves way into the future.

What you can control is how to define and share financial information, whether it’s good, bad or immaterial.

Control the data

You face lots of tough financial decisions every day based on the information available to you at the time. It’s hard to fit long-term planning into the mix, even though you know how important it is.

Fortunately you can gain control of all the moving pieces of data by implementing an analytic software tool. Then, you’ll be able to evaluate your general ledger in ways that were never possible before. The result is the ability to think strategically about fund balances, income and expenses to better determine what’s going well, what’s causing concerns and what to ignore for the time being.

Read (Fore)Casting a Vision for Your Community

Put the data to work

Armed with actionable data analysis, you’re better able to communicate financial information with your stakeholders.

The Good: With strategic plans in place, you can report on successes and tie them back to specific goals. You’re also able to tap the analytic tool to answer questions from a fellow staff member, policy maker or citizen on the fly and quickly present the results in a visual manner. Then informed decisions can be made to move forward or step away.

The Bad: No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s better to get out in front of it and shape the conversation. Tapping the analytical tool, you can show how, for example, increasing healthcare costs impact the overall budget. By proactively sharing the challenges by visualizing the data, you can also more easily offer suggestions for solutions. The analytic tool enables you to model a variety of scenarios and consider the impacts.

The Immaterial: Without analytics, it’s difficult to determine what data points are important. There are likely items in your general ledger that only you need to understand. By analyzing your data, you can better focus on communicating priorities and strategic planning.

With the right analytics tool in place, you set the rules and set yourself up to win the financial management game.

Take your financial future into your own hands, download the free eBook:
"The Municipality's Guide in Mastering a Financial Projection"



Jody Smith is a Senior Account Advisor for the Municipality market with Forecast5 Analytics. Jody has been involved with local government for more than 38 years. He has served as Deputy City Manager and Director of Finance for the City of West Des Moines, served as a member of the ICAP Board of Directors, and is Chairman of Community Relations for West Des Moines Water Works. He received a Bachelors in Politico-Economic Systems and History from Buena Vista University and an Associates Degree in History from Iowa Lakes Community College.

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