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Planning for future growth in the public sector

from  May 10, 2023 | 4 min read

Organizations in the public sector have always faced challenges unseen in the private sector, but the last few years have seen those organizations battling against unprecedented difficulties. And many of them are now looking to technology to help them become more efficient and plan for future growth.

In our recent webinar, recorded for the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), Richard Ludlow, FP&A Lead at Unit4, spoke with two of our current customers about what a move to the cloud with Unit4’s financial planning and analysis solution has done for their public sector organizations and why NHS Trusts need an agile budgeting, planning, and forecasting solution. Darren Ward is a Management Accountant at East of England Ambulance Service and has been using Unit4 ERP on Agresso since 2007. Steve Greenslade is Head of Management Accounts at Royal Devon University NHS Foundation Trust and is, in comparison, a relatively new Unit4 customer.


Watch the full webinar

There are currently 30 health sector organizations, including 16 Foundation Trusts, using Unit4 solutions. Various shared service models have been adopted across the sector, with support provided for local Trust mergers. Our comprehensive experience suite combines Human Capital Management (HCM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A). While other functionalities are important, for mid-market public sector healthcare organizations, FP&A is vital when it comes to saving time and money. 

What is the Unit4 FP&A solution?

Our FP&A solution is an intelligent software solution with pre-built, useable content that helps you understand your numbers more deeply and then turns those insights into action, giving you better business results. It can free your teams to spend more time delivering insights and creating value for the business. It promotes collaboration and self-service. It delivers modeling and planning power. Our solutions help you by combining baked-in automated, AI-infused financial planning and analysis, budget management, and financial forecasting with highly interactive dashboards, valuable alerts and notifications, and powerful, pre-configured models.

The big 4 FP&A questions

1. How have we done?

Are we on track with budget and spend? Are we on track to meet targets and KPIs? Are we using the right ERP, HCM, FP&A, and procurement solutions? Are we integrated?

2. How are we doing?

Are we on budget? Are we on track to meet our forecasts? Are we consistent? Are our processes standardized? Can we predict scenarios for future planning? Is our data reliable?

3. Where are we going?

Are financial forecasts as accurate as they can be? Are we considering market variability/ cost of service, cost of resources, fluctuating demand, natural calamities, and seasonality?

4. What should we be doing?

Learning from data insights rather than getting bogged down in Excel spreadsheets, planning based on data trends, making statistical forecasts, and putting data in the hands of the budget holder, enabling collaboration to reduce cost.

According to Gartner, 73% of finance functions are promoting greater use of data from a centralized, finance-governed source, 77% of CFOs and senior finance executives believe that by 2025 finance IT will be cloud-native rather than on-premise, and 56% of finance functions see the CFO as primarily responsible for expanding planning beyond finance.

All too often, various budget holders across an organization are using Excel to monitor trends and use data to plan, but while Excel is a great personal productivity tool, it simply doesn’t have the functionality to integrate effectively across departments so that everyone has access to the same up to date real-time information.

Now, we can have one flexible tool that works across the organization and eliminates the need for siloed spreadsheets. There will be no more rows and columns of figures to wade through; the data is now brought to life with clearly laid out interactive dashboards that everyone, including non-finance users, can easily understand. The built-in AI in the FP&A solutions leverage data to inform thinking for the future, and notifications trigger alerts when thresholds are exceeded to give agility across the organization.

Click to read Helping public sector organizations enhance value with FP&A and HCM v2 (gated)

Customer Thinking

Steve Greenslade is hoping the Royal Devon University NHS Foundation Trust will use the new solution for budgeting, planning, and forecasting, as well as performance reviews. All forecasting and reviews have been performed on spreadsheets until now, so they are looking for efficiencies and cost-cutting from their new solution.

Steve explained that with the rise of remote working among the workforce, the use of Excel and slow network speeds had hampered agility and efficiency. The organization is looking to revolutionize planning, moving away from Excel to being online and, therefore, cutting out much of the processing and downloading wasted time. He is excited about delighting his customers throughout the organization with more efficient processes, better reporting, and easier-to-read and visualize plans.

Darren Ward and his team at the East of England Ambulance Service have been on the cloud journey since early 2020. There have been phases of activity since then, first with budget setting processes and then with forecasting capabilities. He has seen significant advantages from day one as all cost pressures, developments, and impacts can be seen straight away and in one place.

Their flexible system can have extra functionalities added as and when needed. The built-in forecasting methodologies couldn’t be done in Excel, yet now they can preset forecasts, and the system calculates as actuals are inputted.

The organization also now uses pay budgeting within the solution, which has enabled a massive quality of work-life improvement for users as one change can be processed across the Trust rather than using manual updates and inputs in various spreadsheets. And reporting has been transformed to allow budget statements and reporting variances in one customizable system with data presented in a clear, easy-to-use way.

Unit4 FP&A solutions enable collaboration, agility, and trust, which is why so many NHS Trusts are coming on board.

How Unit4 can help your organization

Unit4’s next-generation smart ERP and FP&A software solutions are built for forward-thinking businesses that want to transform and grow. With us, you can ‘Experience Real Purpose’ with an adaptable solution that’s right for you, now and in the future.

Check out the Unit4 People Experience Suite here, and click here to watch the full webinar.

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