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Financial Management – Design and Implementation of a Computerized Financial Management System for Public Institutions

Financial Management – Design and Implementation of a Computerized Financial Management System for Public Institutions

Financial management is inextricable linked with financial planning. This notwithstanding, control parameters are outcomes of financial planning decisions. However, systematic planning in itself requires a degree of control in terms of its process and procedure.
Everyday, people take decision which can be less frequent or as a result of the importance at to it. In all cases, if the decision is to be taken on a rational bases, the decision maker will need information about the likely outcome and consequences of his decision. The luxury of being in a position of action (including in action) is open, in the future, to the decision maker. Otherwise, there is only one course of action and decision.

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The environment of this study is based on public institutions. Just as the term “Institution” encompasses a wide range of operations, so too the term “decision” covers planning, implementation and control of the provision of finance. Thus, any organization has continually to control and coordinate the taking, implementation and subsequent control of many sets of inter-related decisions to ensure that they are compatible with the overall requirements of that organization.

Financial management can be defined as the process which ensure that financial resources are obtained economically and used efficiently and effectively in the accomplishment of desired goals. Financial management is closely related to a number of administrative and managerial processes. These processes involve monitoring and analyzing of an organization’s financial conditions, general and special account management, budgeting procedures, preparing financial statements and reports, payroll/income tax calculation and salary payments and managing cash flow. Most of these activities are done manually.

Historically, according to John Freear, the Emergence of financial management activities dates back the early days of man trying to properly utilize the little resources he had to run his immediate family by allocating the money to the various needs on the family in accordance with speculated budget plan or estimate. These resources are spent under a proper monitoring and records were made to spell check if the money was actually used to execute the project it was meant for which in turn helps the man in the budget procedure indicating the other areas more financial resources has to be allocated.

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According to K. Oshisami in his book Government accounting and Financial control published in the year 1992 in UK, he pointed out that financial management is made up of processes of making financial decision but not the decision themselves. It covers the entire process of monitoring actions emanating from the decisions. Seen as an integral part of financial management, it also forms part of planning, budgeting, accounting, reporting and review. A financial management system has some principals characteristics.

a.    Its focus is on the financial objectives (as given)
b.    It compares two types of data; planned and predetermined data and actual data.
c.    It permeates all aspect of financial management functions.
d.    It is concerned with those resources, revenues and expenditure which can be expresses on monetary terms or can be combined with other quantitative data to express same eg. Personnel,  materials, procurements etc.
e.    It follows a definite cycle i.e it is rhythmic as in the budget cycle, accounting cycle, auditing cycle etc.
f.    To be effective, it needs to be coordinated and integrated.

He went further to explain that to have more managers does not necessarily result in better management system. However, management can only be effective if only controls are functioning at a tolerable and acceptable levels. To do this, they must posses some attributes which are summarized below.
The system must be able to influence the behavior of it’s users (manager) and operatives. Control such as budget allocations, quote distribution etc. will only be effective to the extent to which they are able to influence managerial behavior.
Secondly, the system must focus on results i.e they must be able to assure the pursuit of economy acquisition as well as the efficiency and effectiveness in the use of resources.

Thirdly, the system require coordination. Organizations are made up of many division section and branches to this end, control devices must be available to ensure that works carried out in various arms are in harmony with one another.
Fourthly, the best control are those that are internally generated rather those externally imposed.

According to Koleade Oshisami financial management can be classified into different categories based on what aspect is to be controlled, mode of reflecting the control, focus and the management system design. The various types of financial management are explained below.

External control is a system operating independently of an organization or a system. It focused on accountability and stewardship. One of these is the external audit which refers to the examination of accounting records of all organizations undertaking to ensure strict compliance with statutes, rules and regulation in order to ensure that all financial resources approved and allocated to each service area are judiciously used and applied for the purpose intended. While internal control refers to whole system of controls, financial or otherwise which the organization established to assist it in carrying out its functions in an orderly manner, safeguard its assets, secure as far as possible the accuracy and reliability of its records, promote operations and protection of assets and assurance of accuracy and reliability.

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Structural controls refers to controls built along institutional lines or built into powers vested in certain functionaries or governmental units. They are often referred to as “check and balances” while procedural controls on the other hand refers to those built into the operational rule and processes such that once those rules and processes are not breached, the built in controls will ensure accountability and controllability eg. The procurement procedures.

Custodial control is a system of control installed to check against the abuse and misuse of resources. The system is based on two principles,  to check the honesty of those persons who are entrusted with thew custody, use and control of public properties as well as their stewardship. While efficiency control seeks primarily to check the ability and the actual performance in achieving objectives which contributes to the overall goal(s) of the system.

The first, planning and  programming, attempts to establish economic and social welfare goals for development, the conversion of these goals into objectives, the setting out of these objectives into policies, programmes and projects. It deals with long term plans of government and as strategic in nature.
Budgeting is the second phase. It involves the quantification in monitoring terms of the overall objectives which the organization has set for itself and for effecting and controlling the numerous activities resulting from it operations.
The third phase deals with Budget execution, accounting and control. It involves the complementation of the various plans, directing activity towards achievement and monitoring compliance of actual achievement with pre-determined expectation.
The fourth phase is Auditing and review. Auditing attepts to ensure discipline in the entire financial management process by confirming the accuracy and reliability of the financial information while also attesting to the probity or otherwise of the various custodians and users of organization resources.

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According to K. Oshisami as well as John Freear in their publications respectively the key services areas whose allocation and utilization of financial resources has to keenly monitored and controlled include.

a.    Expenditure control
b.    Payroll and salary control
c.    Payment and Disbursement control
d.    Revenue control
e.    Fixed assets control
f.    Budgeting control
g.    Auditing control

According to Freear, a recent survey showed that the biggest problem faced by many organization while monitoring the flow of financial resources in the various  departments is the problem bankruptcy as a result of bad management. This is as a result of inaccurate financial reports and information particularly related to inadequate budgetary control, cash flow forecast and costing system. Also, another threatening problem is insufficient room for storage of financial reports for future utilization.

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