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6. Government Resource Planning (GRP) Checklist

 

December 17, 2009

This is section 6 of a series of blog entries creating a Government IFMIS Technology Evaluation Guide. This includes information to assist in evaluating IFMIS options and the technology requirements for FreeBalance IFMIS implementations. These series will be combined with feedback to produce a comprehensive Technology Evaluation Guide to be published on our web site.

Governments have choices to implement Integrated Financial Management Information Systems (IFMIS) for Government Resource Planning:

  1. Custom developed by the government or consulting firm
  2. Generic Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) business software, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), adapted to meet government needs 
  3. Government-specific COTS GRP software

FreeBalance provides:

  • FreeBalance Accountability Suite, a COTS GRP software suite
  • FreeBalance Accountability Platform, a government-specific platform, (that forms the basis for the FreeBalance Accountability Suite) and enables the development of custom government applications

The checklist is designed to assist governments in evaluating GRP options.

Government focus – to what extent is vendor technology developed for government?

Value Best Good Fair Limited
Software functional design Software designed exclusively for government Software designed with public sector in mind Software originally designed for private sector in mind Software is custom developed
Meeting unique requirements Software uses configuration parameters and other non-programmatic methods Software uses accelerators for government implementations Software requires code customization to meet needs Software is custom developed
Localization Supports local languages and enables adjusting terminology. Supports rapid import of languages through multi-language technique and enables adjusting terminology. Is multi-lingual but requires significant effort to support translation. Cannot support local languages.
Internationalization Supports Unicode, multiple languages, different character sets, right-to-left and left-to-right languages in same configuration Supports Unicode, multiple languages, different character sets, only right-to-left or left-to-right languages in same configuration Supports Unicode, multiple languages, but limited character set option, only right-to-left or left-to-right languages in same configuration Does not support Unicode, but supports multiple languages
Help and documentation Help, documentation, e-learning integrated and can be extended to show processes in use by government Custom software has help and documentation designed specifically for government. Help, documentation, e-learning integrated but cannot be extended by government Help, documentation, e-learning a separate sub-systems, some of which can be adapted by government.
Business rules and workflow Parameter setting with simple table-driven workflow. Out of box workflow includes generic government functions. Parameter setting with simple table-driven workflow. Out of box workflow does not include generic government functions. Workflow and/or business rule changes require use of complex generic workflow or business rule tools. Requires code customization to change workflow and business rules.
Rule and workflow flexibility Supports broad range of rule and workflow designed for government without need for code customization and follows good government practices Supports broad range of private sector rule and workflow configuration that can contradict good government practices Customization approach that is flexible but expensive and can contradict good government practices Custom developed and highly flexible so able to implement rules and workflow that contradict good government practices
Software platform design Software platform designed for government includes government components Software includes some government-specific components Platform is proprietary to vendor and has some private sector functions that can be leveraged in government Purely generic technical platform
Adapting to government reform and modernization Progressive activation to enable changes via parameters Many parameters can change Some generic parameters can change but does not support substantial changes easily Requires code customization to adapt to changes
Budget focused Budget and controls built into all modules including HR Budget and controls built-in only to financial management functions Budget and controls added to private sector software Software requires customization in order to support budget management
Controls flexibility Supports multiple controls (appropriations, warrants, budgets) across different fiscal periods with tolerance controls, aggregate to line item, and two commitment stages Supports multiple controls (appropriations, warrants, budgets) across different fiscal periods with tolerance controls, aggregate to line item, with one commitment stage Supports multiple controls (appropriations, warrants, budgets) across different fiscal periods without tolerances Supports line item budget controls only
Support of the budget cycle Supports budget preparation and budget execution Supports budget execution with commitment controls but uses private sector budget preparation Supports budget execution with commitment controls but has no budget preparation Software requires customization in order to support budget cycle
Budget balancing Supports real-time look up of budget (commitments, obligations, received, actuals) and balances against General Ledger Supports real-time look up of budget (commitments, obligations, received, actuals) but does not balance against General Ledger Supports departmental real-time budgets but not whole of government budgets in real-time Does not provide real-time budget information
Functional completeness for government Includes only government functionality, no private-sector specific functions Customized software to be designed specifically for government customer, although runs risk of hard-coding functionality Software configuration limits many private sector functions Software includes both public and private sector functionality and requires configuration or customization to remove private sector functionality.
Chart of Accounts Flexibility Can model multiple segments with alternative roll-ups, support multi-year COA Can model multiple segments with alternative roll-ups, limited multi-year COA Can model current needs in COA, but difficult to adapt COA in future years to reflect changes COA is hard-coded
Accounting methods Supports cash, modified cash, modified accrual and accrual with ability to modernize from one method to the other Supports cash, modified accrual and accrual with ability to modernize from one method to the other Supports cash, modified accrual and accrual without ability to modernize from one method to the other Only supports private sector accrual accounting
Support for public sector accounting standards Supports IPSAS (cash and accrual), GFS, MTEF, COFOG and other relevant standards Current international standards adopted by government is supported Current international standards adopted by government can be customized Custom developed software that could meet relevant standards
Sequenced implementation Can sequence from core treasury functions with simple configuration to all government financial functions and complex configuration Custom solution supports method of sequencing appropriate to government. Modular deployment but each module needs to be fully configured for end state. Big bang’ approach that requires full software product to be rolled-out with all modules.
Multi-year design Has no limit to number of years of historical data and forward data in system for budget analysis, supports changes in chart of accounts configurations Has limits to number of years of historical data and forward data in system for budget analysis but meets MTEF guidelines, supports changes in chart of accounts configurations Has limits to number of years of historical data and forward data in system for budget analysis but meets MTEF guidelines, does not support changes in chart of accounts configurations MTEF analysis needs to be accomplished in data warehouse or other external system
Ease of use Ease of finding account codes, aids in double-entry bookkeeping, ensures valid codes, validates data including from 3rd party integration Ease of finding account codes, aids in double-entry bookkeeping, ensures valid codes, validates data entry only Custom solution designed specifically for government context Validates data entry but expects users to be experts in government financial management
Usability design Goal-oriented user navigation. Functional-oriented user navigation with wizards for common functions and application rather than tool design. Functional-oriented user navigation with wizards for common functions. Functional-oriented user navigation.
Government performance Performance budgeting linked to chart of accounts and outcome and output logic mapping Performance budgeting linked to chart of accounts for performance accounting Supports private sector performance management techniques Performance management must be tracked by separate information system
Government projects Supports project accounting, multi-fund accounting, project tracking and performance measurements in chart of accounts Supports project accounting, multi-fund accounting, and  performance measurements in chart of accounts Supports project accounting in chart of accounts Government project accounting handled in separate system
Reporting Standard government reporting including budget variance, meets international public sector accounting standards, supports ad-hoc reporting Standard government reporting including budget variance, meets international public sector accounting standards, requires 3rd party reporting tool for ad hoc Custom developed solution includes ability to design custom reports Standard private sector reporting, requires customization of reports to support government needs
Accountability and transparency Budget controls, ranges of approval rules, segregation of duties, real-time reporting, full audit trail Budget controls, ranges of approval rules, segregation of duties, historical reporting, full audit trail Approvals main method of control, lack of built-in controls, historical reporting and full audit trail Approvals main method of control, lack of built-in controls, historical reporting and limited audit trail

Government process – to what extent is vendor implementation and support developed for government?

Value Best Good Fair Limited
Methodology used Government-specific methodology built on best practices. Certified by ISO, CMM or equivalent Certified use of standard methodology like Prince 2 Uses proprietary methodology that is not government specific but has been certified. Uses proprietary methodology that has not been certified.
Implementation team Government experts, former civil servants, wide range of experience in governments around the world and with international standards Custom solution designed by government with full knowledge of government requirements Team has some government experts Expert with software solutions, without significant government expertise
Implementation speed First phase implementations average less than 1 year from project kick-off. First phase implementations average less than 2 years from project kick-off. First phase implementations average less than 3 years from project kick-off. First phase implementations average less than 5 years from project kick-off.
Capacity building Implementation team provides mentoring, recommends blueprint, trains on software, government accounting and IT. Implementation team trains on software, government accounting and IT. Implementation team trains on software and IT. Implementation team trains on software package only
Enhancement methods Software vendor support and services integrated with product development, government requirements have top priority, use of steering committee to anticipate future needs Custom solution owned by government determines enhancements but cannot take advantages of enhancements made for other customers Software vendor specializes in a small number of markets, one of which is government, has government user group to help drive enhancements Implementation done by third party, software vendor weighs enhancements across many markets
Additional enhancement participation Custom software enables government to determine what enhancements will be implemented – is essentially handling the entire software development cycle. Government customers can be integrated within the entire software vendor development cycle including developing specifications, approving specifications, beta testing Customers can request enhancements, any customer can beta test Customers can request enhancements, only ‘qualified’ customers can beta test
Support locations Software vendor or custom provider provides support centre directly in government IT offices Software vendor provides local support and services office with local staff fully trained in government functionality. Software vendor provides local support and services office supporting public and private sector customers. Regional support centre provided.
Maintenance method Maintenance includes software support and free upgrades, even when platforms change. Maintenance can be discontinued but reconstituted by back paying maintenance. Maintenance includes software support and free upgrades, even when platforms change. Any discontinuing of maintenance requires re-purchase of licenses to receive maintenance in future. Maintenance handled through third parties. Government maintains custom code.
Sustainable upgrading Vendor places customized features into main line of code to ease upgrading BPM approach where customization is limited to workflow and is separate from the main code Custom developed solution where government or consultant upgrades to next version Change management of code customization requires significant effort to ensure customizations work with next version
Upgrade policy Custom software enables government to upgrade when needed Vendor supports many versions of the software and recognizes that upgrades need to be budgeted and respects government fiscal years Vendor support many versions but operates on delivery schedule independent of government customer fiscal years Vendor forces government to upgrade to next version with little grace period
Multiple version support Vendor fixes defects in many previous versions of the software Vendor fixes defects in current and previous version of the software Vendor fixes defects in previous versions of the software at an additional cost Vendor only fixes defects in current version of software

Open technology – to what extent is vendor technology open, accessible and low cost to support?

Value Best Good Fair Limited
Middleware approach Software is open system – can use open source and commercial middleware Software is somewhat open by using widely adopted software stacks Software platform is somewhat proprietary but has options for open source and commercial middleware Software utilizes proprietary middleware stack from application vendor
Service oriented architecture Software design is a component-based SOA to facilitate integration Software design is monolithic but supports a broad set of industry standard integration methods Software integration utilizes vendor proprietary standards for integration Software integration requires batch interfaces
Web-based Pure web-based through the use of applications servers Web-wrapped where software core is client/server but is deployed via the web through wrappers and other techniques Web-enabled where software core is client/server and is deployed through web enabled virtualization and other techniques Software is client/server
Multi-tiered architecture Multi-tiered design that exceeds the minimum of presentation, business logic and data layers 3-tiered design, presentation, business logic and data layers Some overlap of tiers such as some business logic in presentation layer or most business logic in data tier No respect of 3-tiered design
Technical footprint Optimal – designed for government, can operate on a single laptop for 10 concurrent users + Custom developed so has no unneeded tables and functions Built on private sector base and includes many unneeded tables and functions, but some removed in configuration Built on private sector base and includes many unneeded tables and functions
Functional footprint Implemented by vendor at every tier of government in countries integrated Implemented by vendor at every tier of government in countries but not fully integrated Implemented only at a single government tier Only a departmental solution
Support for government transactions, content and collaboration Integrates transactions, content and collaboration functions and uses Web 2.0 user interface Integrates transactions, content and collaboration functions and uses traditional user interface Transaction-centric with some content attachment, notations and message integration Transactions only
Scalability From small departmental solutions and projects to whole of government Scales to very large organizations but footprint too large for departmental solutions Scales to thousands of users but cannot scale to whole of government Cannot scale beyond departmental level
Deployment Central, de-centralized, regional hubs, stand-alone systems and disconnected systems supported. Cloud computing supported. Some flexibility in deployment options Supports centralized deployment with always-on network and assumes minimum bandwidth Supports stand-alone systems only
Multi-tiered deployment Supports integration among different configurations across line ministries and government tiers and multi-tiered synchronization of budget adjustments and outturns Supports integration among different configurations across line ministries and government tiers without multi-tiered synchronization Supports integration within tiers of governments where systems have the same configuration within tier (national, regional, local) Centralized approach where all configuration in all line ministries and government tiers are identical
Government control Fully customized solution where government uses technical platform and owns developed code Option for government platform that accelerates development compared to technical platform and government owns developed code General software application platform that enables customization and government owns the customized code Vendor software code placed in escrow
Security Supports security standards, has plug-in architecture for government standards Custom developed so any security method could be supported Supports some security standards, most security it proprietary to the software vendor Security is proprietary to software vendor
Licensing method Custom solution, has no license Combination of license methods: rental, named users, concurrent users, occasional users, site and enterprise. Supports component level licensing. Combination of license methods: rental, named users, site and enterprise. Supports module level licensing. Combination of license methods: named users, site and enterprise. Supports module level licensing.
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Doug Hadden

Doug Hadden

Executive Vice President, Innovation at FreeBalance
Doug is responsible for identifying new global markets, new technologies and trends, and new and enhanced internal processes. Doug leads a cross-functional international team that is responsible for developing product prototypes and innovative go-to-market strategies.

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