According to Mark Rutherford, Technical Leader of Accounting and Financial Planning at Cumbria County Council, the council was "in a good place" when it came to the annual accounts closedown process. Although Cumbria’s finance department is additionally tasked with producing group as well as county council accounts, it was nonetheless previously able to close down accounts comfortably within its own end-June deadline.
Once Cumbria’s finance department started using the solution to produce their 200-page final document, Mark noted that: "It made us realise how much we did manually." He and colleagues particularly appreciated the way in which it can apply small changes throughout the accounts without the need to make multiple manual adjustments.
Using ‘big red button’ also highlighted duplication in working papers, helping Cumbria to streamline that part of the accounts process too. Now, the team is able to cover PFI with a single working paper rather than the multiple documents that were needed before.
One year into Cumbria County Council’s use of the CIPFA solution, Mark says that: "So far, it’s helped to streamline and improve our processes, and make far less use of paper. It will also drive more automation in our accounts closedown for 2019, which makes the whole process easier: ultimately, if it’s in the CIPFA Closedown solution, there’s less for you to do." For the next year’s accounts, the finance department may also look to use the solution’s workflow and project management features.
Finally, having expected Cumbria County Council’s auditors to need time to familiarise themselves with the new system, Mark noted that "they were comfortable with it right from the start: there were no questions or issues."