The Fiscal Health Tool provided a new visual tool to help facilitate budget discussions. Modeling the Fiscal Health Tool allows staff to develop live scenarios to provide elected officials an instant picture of the financial impacts of their decisions.
One of the more powerful traits of this process is how it has equipped Council and staff that is resulting in new conversations around budget and resource allocation.
The key breakthrough in this area has been "data visualization" which allows for the easiest way of creating a common view, a common perspective that is simple and that everybody can agree on.
Data Visualization allows us to create a common view of the financial situation that is simple to understand and interpret, describes the clearly defined variables that can impact the financial situation, allows for "live" and "real-time" changes in these variables, and offers the ability for "dynamic" modeling of "what-if" scenarios.
Communicating that picture simply and clearly without volumes of numbers, spreadsheets, tables, and an endless series of charts is frankly a challenge that has plagued financial managers for years.
If local governments are going to be able to demonstrate financial reality internally to elected officials and staff, and externally to residents, they have to find better ways to make fiscal situations understandable and transparent to everyone.