Tertia Barrett discusses “Eliminating inaccuracies and being compliant is key”

Government Digest, April 2014

According to a study conducted by Triple Point Technology – an academic at the University of Hawaii found that 94% of working spreadsheets contain errors, including input errors, logic errors, interface errors, and incorrect cell range errors. This is highly alarming if we consider that this tool is widely utilised within the private and public sectors – when preparing important financial results and GRAP (General Recognised Accounting Practices) compliant statements for example. In this context, a task fraught with potential pitfalls can quickly magnify into major inaccuracies, risk implications over time and can ultimately lead to a negative reputation.

This point was emphasised in the public sector when Chief Financial Officer Linda M. Africa, Amajuba District Municipality, was recently quoted saying: “Regrettably, many of the municipalities across the nation are facing difficulties in achieving a clean audit from the Auditor General’s office, as reports consist of many inaccuracies and errors.”

Given the large scale and numerous transactions within these sectors, municipalities and other public sector entities need to implement systems specifically designed to meet critical reporting requirements which exist within these complex environments. Furthermore, to improve systems efficiencies and clean audits, these systems need to work smarter and faster than ever before – to allow them to work seamlessly with other “best of breed” systems – imperative to the overall functioning of municipalities.

As such, programmes that are designed to automate data gathering, exchange and analyze, provide links between lead schedules and the various statements – become essential. What’s more, the process needs to be guided and assured by a software solution that is faster, more accurate and compliant with regulations and GRAP – ensuring overall accuracy, transparency and accountability.

Case Study:

At the Amajuba District Municipality, they historically used spreadsheet programmes to prepare their financial statements however; they often incurred errors and paper trails that obstructed performance and results. While using a spreadsheet provided some relief, they needed a better option for integration with the accounting solution and automation of manual tasks. CFO Linda Africa wanted a better way to prepare these financial statements, where human error or ‘finger trouble’ and paper trails do not hamper performance and results in clean audits.

“We discovered a process that is guided and assured by software solutions that are faster, and more accurate – CaseWare Working Papers. Tackling the job without CaseWare is simply not an option,” says Africa. “It ensures we comply with GRAP and the Municipal Finance Management Act. With this solution, accuracy of work is one less thing to worry about, which improves the chances of obtaining a clean audit.”

Among the key advantages Africa mentioned, one is that this solution easily interfaces with almost any accounting package provider for very easy data acquisition. This is critical to the municipality environment, where compatibility with a wide range of accounting solutions that are most popular within public sector organisations is key.

“Experience has proven spreadsheets have serious risk of errors and inconsistencies, could it therefore be trusted with the financial reporting requirements of municipalities? We need to move towards systems that are proven to reduce or eliminate inaccuracies, optimise efficiencies and save time – while ensuring compliance – and this solution is now readily available,” concludes Africa.