Based in: Everett, WA
“It’s a wonderful thing that I can go in, hit a couple of buttons, wait a few minutes and all my actuals data comes right into Planning Maestro. And I love the ability to drill down, I have access to so much more information now than I have had before to really show what’s going on.”
“I can change one number and it carries forward throughout the budget, which saves a lot of calculation time.”
Senior Budget Manager
Housing Authority of Snohomish County
The Housing Authority of Snohomish County (HASCO) is a nonprofit government agency that provides housing solutions for people in Snohomish County, Washington state. They work with federal and local programs that help with rent, affordable housing, and tenant services.
HASCO has two primary sources of revenue: reimbursement they receive from HUD (the US Department of Housing and Urban Development) for the Section Eight housing vouchers they administer, and rental income from the properties the organization owns throughout the county.
Software to allocate funds according to different requirements from separate government agencies
“Because we work with so many government entities and we have so many different funds, everything has to be allocated out according to those requirements either by the number of properties, the number of bedrooms at those properties and so on.”
Due to the requirements that come with being a government entity, HASCO’s budgeting process is complex, especially when it comes to managing and tracking multiple allocations.
Prior to Centage, they used Excel for their budgeting and planning, but it ultimately proved insufficient to their needs according to senior budget manager Jenny Barker. As more requirements were added, spreadsheets became unwieldy and increasingly difficult to manage. “While Excel is very good at what it does and can be quite sophisticated, it also has its limitations.”
Seamless integration with accounting software means easy implementation
“Centage was exactly what we needed. When we first met with the team, they understood right away that even though we’re a large housing authority, we’re a fairly small government entity so there was a certain way we had to have the solution set up to manage the individual funds.”
HASCO settled on Centage as a robust budgeting solution that met one of their key requirements: integration with their accounting software, Elite. Thanks to this seamless integration, Centage operates as an extension of the GL, pulling in actuals data so the finance team can monitor and analyze budget vs. actuals on an ongoing basis.
Centage automatically adjusts projected revenues, expenses, and the anticipated bottom line, offering transaction-level detail.
Running monthly reports now takes minutes instead of hours, and the reports generated now provide a much higher level of detail than before.
Drill-down budget vs. actual analysis provides valuable insight into current & forecasted performance
“It’s a wonderful thing that I can go in, hit a couple of buttons, wait a few minutes and all my actuals data comes right into Centage. And I love the ability to drill down, I have access to so much more information now than I have had before to really show what’s going on.”
Before Centage, HASCO’s budget had 1,757 line items – simple yearly amounts per account number, divided by 12 for the monthly amount. Now, the budget contains over 6,000 line items, providing a level of detail and visibility that couldn’t be achieved in Excel.
For example, what used to be a single line for telephone expenses is now a budget for each of the dozen different telephone providers that HASCO utilizes. “I can change one number and it carries forward throughout the budget, which saves a lot of calculation time.”
HASCO also uses Centage to calculate rental revenue on an annual basis. Some of the reports can get complex — for example, showing the properties that HASCO owns by bedroom size, whether they have been rehabbed, etc., so they can determine how much rent they should be budgeting for. This is something else they couldn’t do before.
“I let Centage do all the calculations for revenue because I can put in rent by bedroom size, then next year, I just change the rent amount for that bedroom, and everything is updated instantly.”
Consolidated reports quickly deliver relevant info to budget managers and leadership
“It was just too complicated to do in Excel but once we set it up with Centage, I can go in and just adjust the rent as I go along. It’s all in one report, instead of 20 different Excel reports.”
When managers ask questions, their team can drill down to the individual budget or actual accounts. If there’s a question about why the telephone budget is higher than expected, they can break it down by vendor and show the expense for each, something they couldn’t do before.
For budget vs. actuals reports, as well as various reports for different budget managers, HASCO takes advantage of Centage’s advanced reporting features to slice and dice data to provide reports containing exactly what budget managers (and leadership) want to see, including birds-eye reports for the board.
Complex personnel planning now possible at the employee level
“There are so many different variables to account for when it comes to our personnel planning, especially with health insurance… Depending on the employee, whether they are married, single, married with children and so on — all those tables are built in Centage so I can accurately select which option the employee has and it calculates the associated cost. It’s great because it makes our budgeting much easier and more accurate.”
Granula personnel expense planning is another feature that proved difficult, if not impossible, with Excel. Before Centage, HASCO’s team did personnel planning separately, then manually brought it into the budget. Now, HASCO can budget at the individual employee level within Centage.
This allows HASCO to see the financial implications of each employee’s taxes and benefits, which is especially helpful when it comes to health insurance.
Best-in-industry knowledge base and support
“There is nothing that I can compare to the level of support we have received from Centage – I have never had this type of support for a piece of software.”
HASCO has especially appreciated Centage’s best-in-class knowledge base and support team. They’ve been able to find the answers to all of the questions they’ve had in Centage’s extensive knowledge base, or from a Centage team member providing a timely and thorough response.
Centage’s Consulting Team is a dedicated in-house unit on hand to provide expert support when problems get really tough – a service other FP&A software solutions either outsource or don’t provide.
Since switching from Excel to Centage, HASCO is now able to build its budgets quickly and easily, perform critical budget vs. actuals analysis with more detail than ever before, and provide leadership and the board with greater insight into the organization’s financial position.