Standing on the shoulders of Oxford giants
Cherwell District Council (CDC) is a district in North Oxfordshire providing services to over 150,000 residents and businesses, including environmental, housing, regeneration, and citizen-centric support.
Aligning the functions
While driving digitalized services and business competitiveness in the local area, CDC found its own finance systems were too slow to continue supporting everyday transactions. The existing system relied on data tied to disconnected silos, meaning ongoing manual interventions were required from the team. For example, critical budget management and reporting functions relied on complex, manual spreadsheets and large print volumes.
Turning its focus inward, the council sought a complete financial system overhaul to plug the drain of valuable time and resources and better budget for its constituency.
A unified Unit4 approach
To match its local government financial needs and ensure the connection with other systems, CDC chose the Unit4 platform, with Embridge Consulting as the implementation partner and EntecSI to lead the project management. Embridge’s Value Accelerator (EVA) methodology was key to providing a pre-built ERP implementation strategy that embedded specific industry best practice, including statutory compliance.
The unexpected onset of COVID-19 meant a radical approach was needed to meet the go-live milestone. CDC, EntecSI, and Embridge championed an adaptive mindset for remote teams. It involved changing their training processes, enabling people to work amidst personal responsibilities such as home schooling and ensuring that, as a priority, wellbeing was factored into their new working regime.
Weekly team meetings, and daily ‘scrums’ during critical activities, were held across each design phase: Procurement, Mobilisation, Design/Build, Integrated system testing (IST), User acceptance testing (UAT), and go-live.
Despite the challenges, the project was delivered on time and entirely virtually, and continues to provide results beyond the expectations of the integrated team.
The new dawn
The agility of the finance team has improved with process automation saving up to 16 days each month on bank reconciliations. Overall efficiencies have also led to a 33 percent reduction in council running costs. Budget stakeholders, the finance team, and other council staff now have a complete, timely view of the council’s financial situation, presented in a user-friendly format.
The team has near real-time visibility and control over every stage of the record-to-report cycle, from any device, anytime. They also have the flexibility to streamline budget planning and analysis while consolidating data from across the council into one shared system.
“The project has exemplified creativity, collaboration, and care for the people involved while navigating new ways of working,” said Claire Taylor, corporate director for customers, organizational development and resources at CDC, “the team never lost sight of their focus; to deliver a business-wide finance system which meets the Council’s fast-changing needs.”