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The State of Financial Management Software in the Government of Canada


December 5, 2012


FreeBalance completed a survey at the Government Technology Exhibition and Conference (GTEC), November 5 to 8 2012 and the Financial Management Institute of Canada (FMI) Professional Development Week, November 27 to 30 2012.Both of these conferences were held in Ottawa.

FreeBalance is based in Ottawa and has been a supplier to the Government of Canada since 1984. FreeBalance is a specialist vendor in Public Financial Management with enterprise-class Government Resource Planning (GRP) implementations in governments around the world. This includes some countries where FreeBalance software runs all transactions at the federal level of government and some countries where FreeBalance software runs all government transactions at every level of government. We do not consider FreeBalance to be an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendor because FreeBalance does not provide solutions outside of government.

Survey Results

There were 207 respondents to the survey held at FreeBalance exhibits. The majority ofthe respondents were public servants in the Government of Canada. More than half ofthe respondents have had hands-on experience with FreeBalance and ERP software.

Technology Country of Origin

The majority of respondents believe that the Government of Canada should favour the acquisition of technology from Canadian companies or select the best solution regardless of country of origin.


  • No one selected “foreign large technology” as a option
  • Survey results from public servants significantly contradicts government policy
  • FreeBalance has been highly successful winning GRP contracts in competitive situations against the largest ERP companies, and, therefore, requires only a “level playing field” in Canada

Technology Procurement

The vast majority of respondents believes that any Government of Canada technology procurement made in the 1990s should be re-evaluated.


  • Survey results from public servants significantly contradicts government policy
  • Use of legacy procurement decisions from around 15 years ago adds significant risk to enable the Government of Canada to achieve “value for money” in the procurement and maintenance of financial management systems
  • There have been numerous changes in technology platforms in use in financial management systems since the mid 1990s when very few systems were even web-enabled
  • It should be noted that, in the most recent versions for financial management software in use by the Government of Canada, only FreeBalance provides a pure web solution
  • 1980-2000: The era of Mainframe and Personal Computer – based financial management software
  • 1985-2005: The era of Client/Server software operating with different “fat” clients connected to PC and mini-computer servers
  • 1995-2015: The era of Hybrid Web through the use of client/server base software that is web-enabled through translation layers and plug-ins or operate a fat clients via web protocols
  • 2005-2020: The era of Pure Web financial management software using web infrastructures to support Cloud Computing and Shared Services without the architectural limitations of Client/Server infrastructures

How does the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for FreeBalance compare to Leading ERP Vendors?

Over 70% of respondents believe that FreeBalance software has a much lower TCO in government financial management than ERP. Almost 70% suggested that the FreeBalance TCO was between 10 and 50%.


  • TCO is a critical calculation to determining the “value for money” in government procurement
  • Software with the lowest TCO that is compliant to government needs will reduce costs
  • The software license and maintenance costs represent an insignificant factor in TCO when compared to equipment, training, staff retention, software changes and version upgrades
  • The assessment of public servants on TCO is similar to our analysis of quoted prices in international bids (where bid prices are publicized) that shows that the average FreeBalance turnkey price is almost, on average, half major ERP vendor prices

How Should FreeBalance react to ERP Government Failures

Two out of every three respondents recommends that FreeBalance publicize failures of ERP software in government. Over 85%  of respondents with an opinion recommended that FreeBalance publicize ERP failure in government.


  • There are numerous ERP failures, cost overruns, late deliverables and inability to achieve planned benefits in government
  • A disturbing number of these ERP failures have become public
  • In the interests of transparency, FreeBalance will continue to publicize ERP failures in government and provide analysis


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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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