November 22, 2009Doug Hadden
Our Financial Management Institute of Canada (FMI) Professional Development Week started early with presentations to the FreeBalance Government of Canada Cluster and to our Performance Budgeting for Human Capital (PBHC) customers in Ottawa. FreeBalance has the largest cluster in the Government of Canada – 28 departments, agencies and commissions. And, PBHC has become the gold standard for civil service planning and salary planning. We’re participating in FMI as a sponsor. We’ll be talking about new product releases and describing how government performance management needs Government 2.0 in order to succeed.
The Cluster presentation was a deep dive into the technology of the FreeBalance Accountability Suite. Both presentations ended with invitations to join the on-line FreeBalance Customer Exchange. We started both presentations with a quick business update including mentioning the Uganda Civil Service Management implementation and the reduction of open support cases by 64% over the past 18 months.
This wasn’t your typical roadmap presentation: “this is what you’re going to get, this is when you’re going to get it, this is when you’re going to have to upgrade, if you don’t like it, it’s too bad.” After all, the FreeBalance roadmap is owned by customers. Our goal is to align our roadmap: government customers tell us what we are going to deliver and when we are going to deliver it.
We described the FreeBalance Accountability Suite original design criteria. We believe that many problems experienced in the implementation of Government Resource Planning (GRP) systems originate with the design. We’ve written and presented our lesson-learned: the typical methods used by software vendors to design, develop and implement software needs to be adjusted to support Public Financial Management (PFM) needs.
Social networking capabilities, often called Government 2.0, are required for the current generation of pure-web GRP. We showed part of our original vision case from 2005. This original vision included the fundamental integration of transactions, content and collaboration within a single system architecture.
- Use of software architecture best practices
- Component-based Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)
- Open system and open source support
- Ability to choose open source or commercial middleware
- Support for government-specific requirements
- Configuration and progressive activation approach
- The product commitments and roadmap for the next 18 months
- Support for shared services and cloud computing
- How the FreeBalance Accountability Platform can help develop custom applications
There were many questions that we were able to clarify:
Version 7 of the FreeBalance Accountability Suite provides comprehensive human resources and payroll functionality – full civil service management
FreeBalance is testing software using VMWare
The technical infrastructure is open – we are prepared to support other operating system environments other than Linux and Windows
How “custom domains” differs from the typical “additional fields” approach
How the technology is scalable and the scale of recent implementations
Exact method for multiple year chart of accounts
How customers can customize help, documentation and e-learning
We look forward to more dialog with our Government of Canada customers. We described how customers can participate to help design, adapt and test. Web 2.0 tools provide companies with the ability to support customer disruptive innovation, as described by Clayton Christensen. It’s a far cry from the days of “Mad Men” – creating demand when there isn’t any. The management of the Cluster has been enabling more interaction among customers and with FreeBalance. We are working together to leverage tools to enable more peer communications.