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0 votes
Who has the final say or decision on what accounting software a council will use?

The RFO is recommending Scribe or Rialtas product but council are insisting on Quickbooks for commercial entities.
by (260 points)

7 Answers

0 votes
Neither the Clerk or RFO has delegated decision making powers in this context. Whether the Council are right or wrong may be open to question but they decide by resolution.
by (35.5k points)
The RFO is likely going to be the user of any package. The RFO is also expected to sign the AGAR each year which states - Appropriate accounting records have been properly kept throughout the financial year. The recommendation of the RFO should carry considerable weight in any decision.
0 votes
Maybe the Clerk can put a case together as to why they recommend Scribe or Rialtas saying that these accounts packages are best to fit the requirements of the council as QuickBooks is for commercial use and not really fit for purpose for council business but alas its down to the council to make the decision.
by (360 points)
Yes good idea, having recently completed Cilca LO2 writing a report would be good
+1 vote
You could ask Scribe and Rialtas to give demos on their products and to explain how they are Council friendly so to speak when compared to more established financial software eg Sage
by (1.7k points)
Thank you fir the feedback, much appreciated
+1 vote
Sorry to disagree with my learned colleagues but the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, s4 quite clearly states that the officer, on behalf of the authority must determine the form of its accounting records and supporting records and its financial control system

Clearly the RFO would want to take the council with them but the decision is the RFOs and they should decide what accounting system to use.  As ClerkinEssex states, it is the RFO who signs the AGAR on this matter and therefore they should be 100% happy and confident with the accounting system.
by (24.6k points)
Hmmm, I must admit I did wonder whether this situation might be the case and agreed ideally you would the council to be on biard
0 votes
For most Parish Councils, the simpler the better and going to a full commercial package of which only a small percentage of its capabilities of accountancy would ever be used or needed would be overkill and over spending.

It would be much better to have a spreadsheet basis with simple entries and tailored to the actual PC's needs for budgeting and reporting.

Someone on the council with a minimum of excel knowledge could put it together with minimum cost, surely?
by (27.5k points)
That is precisely the action I took, having an excel guru to hand, after my experience with a sector specific product for a year and discarded it as overly complex, clumsy and not overly user friendly. I took all the good bits added every other function my experiences had shown me across the years and built my own bespoke excel based product which I pay the designer £80 a year to continue using her work, although it is unlocked now so I could just use it. It does far more than any other product I have seen BUT it is not cloud based and thus my members cannot interrogate it anytime they wish, they do have to wait til month end and I send them a copy they can access. They insist they are not prepared to continue using an excel based accounting system (£60K precept!!) plus my product is of course not FSRA passed and thus cannot integrate with the banking system for auto reconciliations.....
Bit late on this - but I tend to disagree.  I'd be very wary of using a bespoke system. Having spent years in IT any bespoke system can cause issues if the person who created it ever left - I experienced a few of them. By using a commercial system used by other people you have a much better chance that someone else can step and take it over easily (and not have to unravel someone else's excel wizardry in this case). And they really aren't that expensive to either use yourself or outsource.
I understand that logic and concern, indeed I have fallen foul of that but luckily do know an amount of Excel that I could unravel, in fact in one instance I ditched what had been done and recreated the entire year from the bank statements and the invoice files, seemed simpler and quicker action to take.

However, using a sector specific product does make sense even if they know how to charge for all the reasons you cite, although certainly not worth the cost for tiny parishes in my opinion and experience. My aim is steer the council away from their misguided love of Quickbooks, Sage and flippin Xero accounting....
0 votes
If you search on the internet there was one council that did a comparison of all the packages and prices. It may be helpful
by (6.3k points)
Interesting - thanks for the tip.
0 votes
Through various PC's that I have been a Councillor or am I Councillor for we have used all of the above and each has pro's and con's with very little between them when you get to the nitty gritty.

All are fairly straight forward and simple to use, however my preference would be quickbooks as I find it a little nice to view and control and their support is very good. However that was not your question so I apologise for the tangent.

It's a tricky one because like others have suggested the Clerk/RFO needs to be comfortable and confident in the package as it is them that will use it on a day to day basis. That said the Council make the financial decision and are ultimately responsible for any issues. I would therefore say IF there are Councillors with experience in any of the above it may be worth listening to them but if there are not Councillors with experience in any of the above then they should trust the judgement of the Clerk in my opinion.
by (5.4k points)
Thank you for the input Chloe, we are moving kicking and screaming to wards an agreed solution, toss up between Scribe and a RBS Rialtas product

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