OVERVIEW OF TECHNOLOGY FOR TRIBAL GOVERNMENTS
All tribal governments are faced with the same conundrum – provide more services with shrinking or stagnant federal dollars. The situation can be further stressed by either a lack of or dwindling funds from enterprises. Gaming profit distributions that were once projected to grow in perpetuity are now slowly shrinking with increased competition.
FOCUS ON LOWER COSTS THROUGH INCREASED EFFICIENCY
Lowering costs is the one of the most viable options that will allow tribes to sustain their program budgets and maintain or increase service levels. For most tribes, a primary impediment to lowering cost ties back to antiquated IT systems. It’s not always obvious how outdated systems are a source of lost revenue. Limitations of systems can require numerous, manual activities because they do not communicate with each other causing redundant data entry, leading to both time and money being wasted. To survive and flourish, forward-looking tribes must transform their operations to lower their costs and adapt to the changing environment. Replacing those old, limited computing systems can result in significant cost savings and more robust access to critical data. Greater access to critical data means more effective management and better stewardship of funds.
START WITH THE END IN MIND
Caution: don’t optimize sub-optimal processes. What do we mean by that? Technology might not be the only problem. Another impediment to lowering costs may be (and frequently is) inefficient processes and workflows. Investing in the automation of inefficient workflows isn’t the best solution. The savvy CFO understands that optimal best practices executed with the latest technology is preferable to throwing new technology at sub-optimal processes. You must ask yourself, where are we today and where do we want our tribal operation to be going forward? The ideal solution involves leveraging the right technology, but it also involves designing and implementing best practices. At Wipfli/Joseph Eve we call this holistic approach “Financial Transformation” – a phased approach to ensure that your tribe has the best of all worlds – the best financial practices, the best workflows, and the best technology.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE: A CASE STUDY
A client contacted Wipfli/Joseph Eve in early 2004 with a desperate situation. They had not had an audit since 1998, had been placed on high-risk status, and faced recision of vital programs by its funding agency.
The client had until September 2006 to become compliant. They had worked with several other firms before contacting Wipfli/Joseph Eve, but none had the manpower or ability to learn the inner workings of the organization.
Wipfli/Joseph Eve put together a dynamic team that successfully completed four years of accounting work in just two years. The hands-on team effort by Wipfli/Joseph Eve partners, consultants and accountants enabled the client to meet the funding agencies deadline and avoid recision of vital programs.