Information Technology Projects Financial Flows Integration

Full Application: Not funded at this stage

The majority of IT enhancements to business area improvements do not significantly consider the impact to Income Management and Finance Systems.

All too often these areas end up with supplementary reports and manual processes which take up officer time and reduce department efficiency.

Our proposal is to identify core financial flows and attributes thereof from various functional areas e.g. Licencing, Planning and Building Control and map how these manifests themselves in Income management and Finance subsystems.

We will then define common:

1) Standards to define minimum financial attributes, in additional to any project specific requirements, which need to be provided by any enhancement project so it is acceptable to financial processing systems.

2) Processes to test the end-to-end flow and reconciliation of these attributes as a core requirement of any new enhancement.

Our proposal is to identify core financial flows and attributes thereof from various functional areas e.g. Licencing, Planning and Building Control and map how these manifests themselves in Income management and Finance subsystems. 

We will then define common: 

1) Standards to define minimum financial attributes, in additional to any project specific requirements, which need to be provided by any enhancement project, so it is acceptable to financial processing systems. 

2) Processes to test the end-to-end flow and reconciliation of these attributes as a core requirement of any new enhancement. 

 This project will be primarily resourced by the recruitment of a temporary business analyst to work solely on this project.  This staff member will be supported by the large business improvement team, the finance manager, the wider accounting team, the ICT team and the digital development team.  

Key Milestones/Events for this initiative are: 

  • Definition of in-scope processes e.g. General Ledger, Income Management 
  • Definition of in-scope finance systems e.g. Pay360, GOV.UK Pay 
  • Definition of key financial attributes and their use in the process: as-is and to-be states. 
  • Specification of mandatory attributes by financial system flow 
  • Test and validation of the specification in a dry-run or pilot application 

Success criteria to demonstrate that objectives have been met for this initiative are defined as: 

  1. Confirmation that manual officer workaround processes identified have been removed and are no longer required. 
  2. Summary of time saving achieved on a per-instance basis, multiplied by instance volumes. 
  3. Benefits derived from increased accuracy of, or removal of knock-on processes. 

This project would deliver significant benefits to public sector organisations.  The key benefits are as follows: 

  • Saving officer time in manual testing and retesting – Significant amounts of staff time are spent testing and re-testing integrations with new software.  Due to the lack of a standardised process, there is often time wasted with ineffective testing, which often comes at a late stage of the software development process.  
  • Improving the quality of the ledger – This is vitally important within a local authority and saves many staff hours trying to reconcile accounts.  
  • Reducing risk of negative audit – Again this is very important within a local authority.  Plus it reduces the staff time needed to correct any issues uncovered by a negative audit.  
  • Standardised approach, saving time every time new software is implemented – With a standardised approach, there is no time wasted discussing how payments are to be integrated.  The documentation provides a standard approach for implementation, testing and maintenance going forward.  

This project is relevant to any public sector organisations.  Every single organisation in the country takes payments via a software payment gateway / software product.  As part of this project, we will also look at the gov.pay system to ensure that there is a standardised process for implementing this as a replacement for various ‘paid for’ payment gateways.  This will benefit all local authorities as it will help them move away from expensive paid for systems.   

We will publish all of our work online within a dedicated project site, that will be openly available to other local authorities to use as they see fit.  

We plan to recruit a business analyst for the length of the project.  This will be a shared resource used by all the collaborative partners for the work involved in this project.  The project will involve coming up with a best practice approach using research from all the councils involved.   

The project will result in a full business case for further developing / using other tools to implement and test new finance systems that will ultimately result in better quality information being included on the ledger.   

The project will include an extensive user research program of work, culminating in a report at the end of the project which will be freely available to other local government organisations.  The research will include detailed feedback from a range of stakeholders including: 

Finance Managers, Accounts teams, ICT and Systems specialists, Product suppliers, public user focus groups, contact centre staff focus groups, and Heads of Departments within the local authority organisations.  These discussions will bring together users from across all of the various councils involved in the project.  

One of the key outputs from this project, will be a complete mapped out user journey process map of the implementation of a payments system integration.  From this, we can then progress to an alpha project, which will be aimed at eliminating the manual parts of this process and further automating as much of it as possible by using new open source / free government tools e.g. gov.pay 

This discovery project is heavily reliant on user research and engagement.  The key stakeholders identified for this stage of the project are as follows: 

  • Department heads 
  • Finance manager 
  • Accounts team 
  • Front line contact centre staff 
  • Public user groups 
  • Internal staff user groups 
  • Councillors 
  • ICT and systems specialists 
  • Product suppliers 
  • Gov.pay team 

 

The objectives of this user research will include: 

  • Recording the frustrations with any current finance systems 
  • Recording the frustrations encountered by the finance team when new integrations to their software are added 
  • Documenting the current integration / implementation process 
  • Documenting the current user acceptance testing process 
  • Recording public feedback in regards to online payment processes 
  • Recording how different users currently access the different payment engines 
  • Recording how different users actually use different software products 
  • Mapping all current integrations with the finance systems 
  • Producing a user research report 
  • Potential process improvement suggestions 

No funding for this project has previously been requested or applied for. 

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