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The Tanzanian parliament budget session was drawing near, and the Ministry of Finance for the Government of Tanzania was preparing budget reports, aiming to complete all the preparations well before the deadline. The ministry had to set the budget in conjunction with 96 of its ministry counterparts, submit the final version of the budget to the parliament for approval, manage changes to the original budget throughout the fiscal year, and then determine account balances by tracking the actual expenditure.
However, the process they were following to get this done was relatively slow. They were sending MS Access databases to the different ministries to enter their budget figures, which the Ministry of Finance then had to consolidate into a single report a process that can (and would) take months. Moreover, these shared databases did not have data entry restrictions or verification capabilities, which meant multiple users, could edit the information. This made the budget-relevant data prone to inaccuracies, which was against the transparency and allocation requirements of donors such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
The Ministry of Finance needed a robust budget management solution that could instantly consolidate budget information from different ministries with utmost data integrity and seamlessly manage their budgeting processes from the start to the end of the budget cycle. Fortunately, they found the exact solution in the centralized budget management software (CBMS) offered by Isidore a renowned provider of corporate performance management solutions for both the private and public sectors.
Isidore began the onboarding process of its CBMS by first conducting a pre-implementation workshop with the relevant stakeholders to determine the exact requirements of the Government of Tanzania. Based on the assessment, the company customized and installed CBMS on the Government of Tanzania’s servers and seamlessly integrated it with their existing software and hardware. After this, Isidore migrated all the budget-relevant data from various ministries into CBMS and configured appropriate data entry, review, and reporting screens. This ensured that all the staff, from admin users to budget managers (even from disparately located ministries), would collaborate via CBMS, but with conditional access that the Ministry of Finance governs to uphold the much-needed data integrity. Going a step further, Isidore also trained over 300 ministry staff in group sessions and the administrative users one-on-one, thus facilitating seamless change management across the government.
In no time, Isidore’s CBMS could revolutionize the entire budget workflow for the Government of Tanzania. They reduced the timeframe of the initial budget collection from various ministries to just a few weeks. Moreover, as the Ministry of Finance could set the capping of the expenditures by different ministries directly within CBMS, it was easier to accurately manage the budget and remove any inaccuracies in the process.
Even today, the Government of Tanzania leverages Isidore’s CBMS to complete its budgeting processes within the specified timelines successfully.
Isidore currently provides the ministry with relevant business and IT support for the ongoing CBMS updates and maintenance.
We Wanted to Develop a Solution That Not Only Integrated Seamlessly with Any Financial Solution But also offered The Exact Budgeting Functionality That The Users Needed
The Roots of Excellence
The foundation of Isidore can be traced back to 1999, when two pioneers Andrew Bull and Michael Giacomin began developing bespoke and custom software, particularly for the financial branches of the Australian Government. When working with the government, they noticed that major vendors’ existing financial management information systems (FMIS) did not have an integrated budget management module, requiring them to depend on Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access to manage their budgeting information manually. Even if some FMIS vendors provided an integrated budgeting module, these modules often fell short of the functionality expected and needed by the customers.
“Our close collaboration with financial departments over the years has enabled us to expand our knowledge and expertise beyond just IT into the nuances of financial management.”
“We wanted to develop a solution that not only integrated seamlessly with any financial solution but also offered the exact budgeting functionality that the users needed,” says Bull. So, over the next few years, they designed and developed a robust web-based budgeting solution, which they then integrated into the digital infrastructure of the Australian Department of Finance. The solution revamped the department’s budgeting workflow and garnered much acclaim for Bull and Giacomin. This success prompted them to start their own company Isidore and upgrade their budgeting solution, which eventually became Isidore’s crown jewel, CBMS.
“Our CBMS can be used at any levels of the government, from federal to state and even the local councils,” mentions Giacomin. “Our clients can easily manage their internal and external budgets, and also consolidate those budgets into reports as and when required.” Besides, Isidore’s CBMS is highly customizable, which means that even if 80 percent of the software comes off the shelf and is ready to deploy, the additional features and functionalities can be added based on client requirements.
Meeting the Evolving Budgeting and Accounting Needs
Today, Isidore is ushering its clients into the age of automation and digitalization by combining its solutions with deep industry insights. “Our close collaboration with financial departments over the years has enabled us to expand our knowledge and expertise beyond just IT into the nuances of financial management,” notes Giacomin. “This understanding of the finance processes allows us to customize the product according to clients exact requirements without creating an overly-complex software infrastructure.” For this reason, unlike conventional budgeting solution providers, Isidore can quickly assess where their clients are in terms of their budgeting workflow and provide a complete solution to augment their existing workflow.
Even when clients need to set strategic budgets apart from their main financial budget, they can leverage Isidore’s CBMS to plan their expenditures. For instance, if a government branch is launching a program to decrease child mortality rates by vaccinating children under two, the clients can set relevant budgets for these activities using CBMS. All this information, including the budget limits, is stored in the software and can be viewed by relevant donors who sponsor the programs or activities.
Guiding Clients to the Peak of Performance
Isidore’s portfolio of next-gen budgeting and accounting solutions combined with its industry-leading expertise significantly enhances its clients’ financial processes.
The company’s exceptional workforce further complements this. Especially, Isidore’s consultants (who have a thorough understanding of finance, budgeting, and IT) are always ready to push the horizon when it comes to advisory and support for the clients’ budgeting workflows. This combination of technology and industry know-how means there is no unresolvable issue and no compromises in the client workflow. “We even leverage insights derived from successful case studies of previous clients as guidance maps to help our other clients adjust to their new budget consolidation workflow,” mentions Bull.
Driven by such a culture of mutual growth and innovation, Isidore will continue eliminating the barriers around budgeting workflows for both the public and private sectors. While it will further expand its foothold in developing countries across Africa and Asia, it will also help governments in developed countries benefit from its next-gen budgeting solutions. “Our aim is to eliminate all unnecessary and time-consuming processes, and consolidate all critical processes into a centralized and streamlined system to remove any redundant hurdles from our clients’ budgeting workflow,” concludes Bull and Giacomin.