Part 2: Process adapted for Public Financial Management
Doug Hadden, VP Products
Part 1 covered the techniques that we used to enhance our Public Financial Management focus. Customer-centric processes were part of this transformation. But, what does this really mean from the government customer’s perspective?
We endeavour to align with customer needs. PFM is complex and government needs more so. The following diagram summarizes some key processes that we use at FreeBalance.
Significant effort is made to better understand the customer context. The typical analysis summarizes down to about 80 to 100 pages. This is accomplished for prospective government customers and allows us to determine whether it makes sense to propose the FreeBalance Accountability Suite.
We compare the progress in public financial management outputs and outcomes relative to countries with a similar context and those in the same region. We analyze how our products and services align with the gaps in PFM reform. Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) assessments are the key source here.
Budget 2.0 Benchmark
There is a shift towards open government across the PFM spectrum. The Budget 2.0 Benchmark analyzes the extent to which PFM reform is expressed through the “front office” in e-government and Government 2.0. Transparency needs are analyzed.
Performance Management Benchmark
The use of performance management, budget preparation, macro-fiscal frameworks, and program budgeting is benchmarked. Performance management has become critical in the global economy thanks to increased globalization (competition) and the financial crisis (increasing effectiveness with limited budgets). Performance management is benchmarked relative to the country needs.
Solution Blueprints provide recommendations based on the previous 4 deliverables. It’s customized to the customer context. We’ve had good success aligning to customer priorities through the blueprint.
Unlike traditional enterprise software vendors, FreeBalance takes part in the implementation. We are sometime the prime contractor for turnkey solutions. This means that we take on the burden of success. The advantage to customers of this approach is that our implementation process directly connects to product development. Products are enhanced to meet customer requirements “on-the-fly” and then placed in the mainline of the code to ensure maintainability.
Training and mentoring are important deliverables. It’s more than customer support. The focus is to ensure customer self-sufficiency.
The FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) is another element of sustainability. FISC reviews and changes the customer roadmap very January. This is considerably different from traditional software vendor roadmap process. FISC also provides insight into PFM directions.
We don’t just sit around and wait for customer needs to materialize. We’re active within the PFM community. We research. The Budget 2.0 Benchmark also provides an element of domain research.
The difference here is the alignment with changing customer needs. The product development process has become very flexible at FreeBalance as we combine modern software practices for architecture with specifications. Product managers, implementation experts, programmers and pre-sales staff are all active in the writing of specifications. This creates a product portfolio that is PFM-specific using, what we call, the Public Financial Management Component Map to align to government needs.