FreeBalance Shares Framework for Automating Good Governance at ESAAG Event in South Africa

April 17th, 2014

Presentation focused on how countries can take advantage of technology to improve transparency, accountability and development outcomes


Ottawa, Canada (April 8, 2014) – FreeBalance, a leading vendor of Government Resource Planning (GRP) software, shared a framework for automating good governance at the 2014 East and South African Association of Accountants-General (ESAAG) conference. The FreeBalance presentation explored how effective financial management software designed for government improves governance through automated controls, IT security and transparency.

“The FreeBalance experience has shown that technology-enabled governance is necessary for institutional reforms to take hold,” said Anne Ellsworth, FreeBalance’s Vice President, Africa & Middle East. “One of our mandates at FreeBalance is to build and share good practices in Public Financial Management (PFM). The annual ESAAG event provides a great platform to support development and growth in countries in Africa and around the world.”

The 2014 ESAAG conference is taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa and is focused on PFM reform from planning through to implementation. ESAAG conferences attract over 1000 participants and speakers from 14 member states, including Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

About ESAAG

The East and Southern African Association of Accountants General (ESAAG) is the regional body of Accountants General which supports its members in adoption and implementation of best practice in Public Financial Management practices. ESAAG holds an International conference every year to which its members and non-members are invited. The objective of the conference is to appraise participants from ESAAG and those from outside the association of the developments in Public Financial Management Reforms. For more information please visit www.esaag.co.za.

About FreeBalance
FreeBalance helps governments around the world leverage robust Government Resource Planning (GRP) technology to accelerate country growth. FreeBalance software solutions for public financial and human resource management support reform and modernization to improve governance, transparency and accountability. Good governance is required to improve development results. For more information, visit the FreeBalance website.

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Budget Transparency: Looking Good or Being Good?

April 16th, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Professor Matt Andrews of the Harvard Kennedy School instigated a debate in public financial circles. His observation from analyzing data from the Open Budget Index is that African countries achieve higher scores in budget formulation transparency than in budget execution.

Budget transparency can be more about ‘looking good’ than ‘being good’. In this case, ‘being good’ is about connecting government intentions with results. We know that governments make frequent adjustments to original budgets, add supplementally, overspend and underspend. Beautiful budget plans can be derailed. Andrews sees this phenomenon as about providing signals about reform without executing on reform.

This talk of looking good reminded me of the ‘Fernando’ character created by comedian Billy Crystal, who often opined that it was better to look good than feel good.

Looking good: a universal government phenomenon?

Budget formulation documents whether tabled as budget books or speeches are inherently political. The Canadian government has gone so far as to brand the budget document as Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Budget execution transparency is also political, but in a dangerous way. Audits, for example, have tremendous political fall out for governing parties.

So, we began to wonder whether OBI data supports the idea that looking good is foremost in the budget transparency agenda. Our paper on the subject will be soon published. The conclusion, based on available data, is that the gap between budget formulation and execution transparency is common among countries regardless of development.

Budget transparency weight?

Is the OBI somewhat skewed? Should elements of budget formulation transparency be weighed higher than budget execution? I can’t find a rational argument to support this notion. I agree that some of the underlying documents might be somewhat more important but I think that depends on the context of political systems. My take on this is:

  • The usefulness of budget transparency has a network effect. Each government initiative that improves OBI adds value to previous initiatives. There may be a case to consider OBI as an exponential measure rather than arithmetic.
  • Budget formulation transparency has very little value without execution transparency. These budgets lack credibility – perhaps we should consider these as ‘incredible budgets’.
  • Computer technology is not necessarily a hurdle to transparency. Many developed countries have multiple departmental systems for formulation and execution that introduces integration problems. Developing countries often have single systems for core execution and simple formulation systems. Countries like Timor-Leste, a FreeBalance customer, are able to update budget execution data daily (including budget changes) and show 10 years of history.
  • Government legitimacy in today’s hyper connecting social media world is moving from inputs (budget promises about spending and policy results that may never happen) to results (performance in outputs and outcomes). Governments can not hide behind beautiful budget plans.

An ERP in Government Success Story

April 16th, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

A recent news story proclaimed the achievement of auditability for the US Army thanks to the successful implementation of a Tier 1 ERP package. The system known as the General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS) was implemented in a little under 8 years at a cost if around $1.4 Billion. Numerous legacy systems have been replaced or interfaced. “Among the military services, the Army is unique in its sole reliance on ERP systems to achieve auditability. By comparison, Jones said, most of the other services rely on legacy systems and procedures to reach their auditability goals.”

What is the definition of ERP success in government?

A ‘perspective’ is needed to understand how narrow the concept of success can be manipulated. In this case, GFEBS stands out as not a complete disaster relative to other Department of Defence ERP initiatives:

Where has all the money gone?

Public sector financial management is different. That’s why Government Resource Planning (GRP) software from companies like FreeBalance has higher success rates than ERP software designed originally for the private sector. This means that customization becomes orders if magnitude more difficult and expensive when leveraging ERP in government. An analysis by GovWin shows the need for additional services for DoD ERP: “services spending far outweighs spending on either hardware or software, coming in at a total of $7.1 billion obligated from FY 2009 to FY 2014. Obligations for software come in second with $541 million spent over the same 5.3 year period. Obligations for hardware total $301 million.” Not all of the 13 to 1 ratio of services to software cost can be explained by customization. Yet, it is difficult to conceive that much more than $1 billion can be explained by software maintenance and training. Some of the licenses were likely acquired before 2009, but it’s not clear how that is recognized in contracts. Customization and managing upgrades because of customization is likely more costly than software licenses.

Replacing legacy with legacy?

As tech analysts Gartner has pointed out, most ERP systems are legacy. That’s because Tier 1 ERP software uses old proprietary client/server code that requires significant code customization. This is good news for consultants but bad news for governments. One wonders whether, by 2018, DoD will be planning to replace the ERP software that was legacy when first implemented in 2012.

The ‘Best Practices’ Conspiracy in Public Financial Management

April 7th, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Professor Matt Andrews, in The Limits of Institutional Reform found strong evidence that reform in developing countries is more easily justified by so-called ‘best practices’. This risk adverse approach has led to high failure rates. It’s an example where risk adverse mind sets lead to higher risk.

‘Best practices’ remains a mantra for many consultants. It’s pervasive as consultant-speak. Even though consultants and technical advisors often disagree on what practices are better. This is a critical problem for government decision-makers who are tormented by the changing landscape of foreign technical advisors – enduring patronizing lectures by experts.

Some advisors tout improved budget preparation and macroeconomic analysis, some on capacity, others on procurement and civil service reform. Examples of practices from Canada, India, New Zealand or Singapore are often mentioned.

For developing nations, many of these best practices are advanced practices designed to solve problems they do not have.

That’s why we talk about ‘good practices’ at FreeBalance. These are practices designed to solve the problems you have in the context of country capabilities. Sure, performance management and full accrual accounting are more advanced practices. But it makes no sense to implement something like program budgeting if there is not a regime of automated budget and commitment controls.

Let’s all agree to bury ‘best practices’ once and for all!

The Business Case for ERP in Government

April 7th, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Many technologists see FreeBalance as a provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for government. That may have been the thinking, a few years ago, when I was asked to step in for a cancellation at a conference to present the business case for ERP in government. The notion that implementing software designed for the private sector in government had gained significant traction by 2009. And, the advantages of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) compared to custom developed was well understood in developed countries. Yet there persisted integration and flexibility problems in ERP government implementations.

We had been presenting Government Resource Planning (GRP) as a different category of software from ERP. Our position that ERP provides a poor value for money for core budget, financial, procurement and human resources functions in government has been gaining traction. ERP in government failure examples continue to mount.

Three Business Case Measurements

I did present the case as articulated by leading ERP vendors and technology analysts in 2009 around three concepts:

  • Potential benefits: tangible benefits that could accrue through the use of technology to meet current and future needs
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): long-term costs to achieve benefits (More on for ways to measure TCO)
  • Project Governance: methods in which ERP projects are managed including managing ERP vendors (More information on project governance)

My view at the time was that ERP vendors were over promising on benefits, delivering high costs to government and operating outside project governance structures in order to remain unaccountable.

Dubious State of the 2009 ERP Value Proposition in 2014

Much if the value hyped by ERP vendors last decade has turned out to be just that: hype.

  1. Portfolio Management: notion that the cost to manage a product suite from one vendor is much lower than managing a portfolio of ‘best-of-breed’ applications. Reality: governments have been unable to effectively use a single suite of ERP software to cover Public Financial Management, ERP applications lack budget awareness across the suite, integration is not built-in (requiring complex metadata management), and so-called ERP suites are now made up of so many acquired products and technologies. Yet, ‘integration’ remains a cornerstone of ERP vendor marketing hype!
  2. Improved Decision Information: It is somewhat ironic that ERP vendors were touting information visibility in the last decade as a critical non-tangible benefit. That’s because after doing so, the two largest ERP vendors announced the acquisition of Business Intelligence companies. ERP vendors have escalated the hype to real-time reporting and in-memory analytics, all of which can be accomplished with alternatives!
  3. Benefits at Scale:The notion that significant benefits accrue only after a number of years through improved business processes coupled with expanding ERP footprint. This is perhaps the most intellectually dishonest element of ERP hype. It provides a justification for increasing commitment to a poor business case as costs mount and benefits do not accrue.

ERP as Transformational?

ERP costs continue to mount, partly from improved visibility into areas that were once difficult to measure, and partly from managing legacy technology. Yet, ERP vendors have entered new realms of marketing hyperbole.

ERP vendors, as I described a few years ago, are marketing as enablers of government transformation and agility.

It’s awesome how vendors are able to say this with straight faces. Sadly, this hype is deluding government decision-makers and costing taxpayers.

  • Legacy proprietary ERP technology was not designed to support 21st century government transformation, it was designed to automate manufacturing, retail and other private sector functions
  • Technology that relies heavily on software code customization (proprietary code, especially) reduces organizational agility
  • Process ‘standardization’ has diminishing returns in complex organizations like government while reducing the opportunity for innovation

What happens when the hype implodes? It’s the equivalent of a taxpayer bailout. With ERP vendors likely to escape justice.

Donors wield aid transparency power

March 10th, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Original post at Publish What You Fund.

Is transparency a threat to the development status quo or an opportunity to break through the “dead aid” narrative?

FreeBalanceRocksThe problem with transparency is that it usually refers to the other guy. Politicians want governments to be transparent. Donors want beneficiaries to be transparent.

Transparency is a threatening concept. It opens up the organizational kimono to scrutiny. And, sometimes unfair levels of scrutiny, where a single gaff can become the defining narrative in the minds of the public.

This means that aid transparency can seem dangerous to International Financial Institutions (IFIs) who are expected to support the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). We need to understand this context before we condemn donors for not fully supporting transparency standards. We should not be surprised that there is a wide divergence in aid transparency commitments according to Publish What You Fund analysis. Aid transparency is fundamentally political – for larger donors, including major NGOs, it’s not about technology.

From a Culture of Expertise to Multidisciplinary Insight

IFI staff is made up of subject matter experts, many of whom have deep on-site knowledge in their chosen domain. Development is a complex undertaking. Aid transparency can enable those without sufficient understanding to opine. These opinions can be politicized and result in unfortunate changes in IFI policy, particularly in bilateral donor institutions.

Yet, one aspect of complex domains like development, is an overly narrow focus. The key to achieving optimal development results may come from analysis from another domain, or an amateur or a domain expert from a different region. This is perhaps why the World Bank, on the forefront of aid transparency, is reorganizing to achieve global insight from regional lessons learned. Aid data can tap the wisdom of crowds – or the wisdom of big data – to improve development effectiveness.

From Broadcast to Social Engagement

Institutions traditionally operate “out of network” by broadcasting messages through traditional and social media. These messages undergo significant scrutiny, particularly in the public sector. The Canadian federal government, for example, requires a 12 step approval process for official tweets. Social media and open aid data plunges IFIs into operating within existing social networks.

Organizations lose the ability to control the message in social networks. Authenticity becomes critical. Message sanitization often has the opposite effect. What is the incentive for donors to lose the control of the message?

For one thing, donors have lost control of the message. The public in many developed countries seem to believe that foreign aid spending is rampant. Aid transparency could dis-intermediate the media that is intent on sensationalizing foreign aid failures.

Aid Transparency Arms Race?

Aid transparency has become politicized (in a good way). Thanks to the Publish What You Fund Aid Transparency Index and the efforts of civil society, many donors have realized the political benefits of publishing to IATI standards. Aid transparency equates to aid credibility.

There are many observers who believe that donor aid, as currently provided, reduces development and growth. Economist Dambisa Moyo, for example, calls this “Dead Aid”. The important point about aid skepticism, in my opinion, is that foreign aid doesn’t always work as expected. And, the triumphs broadcast by some donors are resplendent in hyperbole.

It’s high time for a change. To a more advanced understanding of aid. To leverage data and analysis to determine what works in what context. This is becoming a matter of survival for aid organizations whether international IFIs, government bilateral donors or NGOs – proof of aid effectiveness.

FreeBalance “Reads Aloud”

March 6th, 2014

March 5th. was World Read Aloud Day. FreeBalance staff read across the globe, once again.

The Business Case for ERP in Government

March 3rd, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

Many technologists see FreeBalance as a provider of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for government. That may have been the thinking, a few years ago, when I was asked to step in for a cancellation at a conference to present the business case for ERP in government. The notion that implementing software designed for the private sector in government had gained significant traction by 2009. And, the advantages of Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) compared to custom developed was well understood in developed countries. Yet there persisted integration and flexibility problems in ERP government implementations.

We had been presenting Government Resource Planning (GRP) as a different category of software from ERP. Our position that ERP provides a poor value for money for core budget, financial, procurement and human resources functions in government has been gaining traction. ERP in government failure examples continue to mount.

Three Business Case Measurements

I did present the case as articulated by leading ERP vendors and technology analysts in 2009 around three concepts:

  • Potential benefits: tangible benefits that could accrue through the use of technology to meet current and future needs
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): long-term costs to achieve benefits (More on for ways to measure TCO)
  • Project Governance: methods in which ERP projects are managed including managing ERP vendors (More information on project governance)

My view at the time was that ERP vendors were over promising on benefits, delivering high costs to government and operating outside project governance structures in order to remain unaccountable.

Dubious State of the 2009 ERP Value Proposition in 2014

Much if the value hyped by ERP vendors last decade has turned out to be just that: hype.

  1. Portfolio Management: notion that the cost to manage a product suite from one vendor is much lower than managing a portfolio of ‘best-of-breed’ applications. Reality: governments have been unable to effectively use a single suite of ERP software to cover Public Financial Management, ERP applications lack budget awareness across the suite, integration is not built-in (requiring complex metadata management), and so-called ERP suites are now made up of so many acquired products and technologies. Yet, ‘integration’ remains a cornerstone of ERP vendor marketing hype!
  2. Improved Decision Information: It is somewhat ironic that ERP vendors were touting information visibility in the last decade as a critical non-tangible benefit. That’s because after doing so, the two largest ERP vendors announced the acquisition of Business Intelligence companies. ERP vendors have escalated the hype to real-time reporting and in-memory analytics, all of which can be accomplished with alternatives!
  3. Benefits at Scale: The notion that significant benefits accrue only after a number of years through improved business processes coupled with expanding ERP footprint. This is perhaps the most intellectually dishonest element of ERP hype. It provides a justification for increasing commitment to a poor business case as costs mount and benefits do not accrue.

ERP as Transformational?

ERP costs continue to mount, partly from improved visibility into areas that were once difficult to measure, and partly from managing legacy technology. Yet, ERP vendors have entered new realms of marketing hyperbole.

ERP vendors, as I described a few years ago, are marketing as enablers of government transformation and agility.

It’s awesome how vendors are able to say this with straight faces. Sadly, this hype is deluding government decision-makers and costing taxpayers.

  • Legacy proprietary ERP technology was not designed to support 21st century government transformation, it was designed to automate manufacturing, retail and other private sector functions
  • Technology that relies heavily on software code customization (proprietary code, especially) reduces organizational agility
  • Process ‘standardization’ has diminishing returns in complex organizations like government while reducing the opportunity for innovation

What happens when the hype implodes? It’s the equivalent of a taxpayer bailout. With ERP vendors likely to escape justice.

Why is a Software Company Talking About Organizational Change?

February 10th, 2014

And, Sustainable Public Financial Management (PFM) reform?

Doug Hadden, VP Products

By most people's measure, FreeBalance is a software company. We build budget, financial and HR software for governments. Some would say that we're in the general 'ERP' category although we don't build software for the private sector. So why are we focusing on solutions for organization change at our annual conference?

(I follow the themes from ERP company conferences. The main theme: we're the best. The message:  buy more software.)

Power Shift to Customers

The software industry has evolved through short acronym eras. Innovative new software is introduced that defies current categories. Experts and analysts see the trend and define new categories. We've seen the recent rise of 'augmented reality', 'collaborative commerce', 'Internet of things', 'consumerization of IT' and 'big data' among others. The underlying theme to many of these new technologies: customer empowerment.

That is: the empowerment of consumer and business customers in the commercial and government relationships.

Don't be fooled by how new technology is leveraged by providers of products and services. This is a temporary stage, a pattern common to digitization. (For example, the music industry made huge profits by digitizing analog music for CDs. Look at what has happened since.)

The Complete Solution Set

Companies define their categories. It becomes a mindset. The definition of categories can be very narrow. (For example, most software companies try to reduce services revenue as a ratio of overall turnover. And, companies find international expansion difficult when defined categories make no sense globally.)

The customer problem with 'categories' is that they are required to integrate product and services sets to arrive at solutions. Many high technology firms are so obsessed with optimizing categories that they fail to realize how products are really being used – the problems being solved, and the burden to make all this happen.

Customers are looking for comprehensive solution sets. (Any software company struggling to be a "product company" doesn't get the new dynamic.

The Governance Problem

FreeBalance builds software. The sea change at FreeBalance occurred when we realized that our business wasn't software: it was enabling country growth through sustainable reform. Software is one cog in the solution to the governance problem of how to sequence reform based in the country context. The design of the FreeBalance Accountability Suite enables progressive activation. But, governments need to know what processes should be modernized, in what order, and how to help the public service adapt.

Organizational change management is critical to PFM reform. That's why we're talking about it. And, why we brought in international experts to provide context. And, why we've added internal expertise and partnered with firms who specialize in organizational change in government. And, why we're running workshops on the subject so customers can share good practices.

(Subjects include capacity building, security and reputation, change and project management, impact of post 2015 MDGs, transparency and open government.)

Customer-Centric Implications

This was our 8th FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC), our 3rd Minister's Roundtable and the first Host Country Workshop. FISC has evolved over the years from a conference focused on resetting our product roadmap to one focused on sharing good practices. The customers still reset our roadmap. (I know of no other company that does this.)

The challenge for us is to keep our ears open this week to better understand the customer context. To talk less about ourselves – to talk less in general – which is hard to do when you're excited about what you're doing.

That's our organizational change challenge.

Listening is one thing – analyzing the other. Our PFM focus facilitates analysis on one hand, but can limit thinking on the other because there is a lot of orthodoxy in the domain.

This is the real challenge for customer-centricity: corporate hubris. Thinking that you know more than your customers.

Session Related to Change Management

We blogged and tweeted during FISC. Some sessions related to organizational change included:

 

 

 

Customers Adapt FreeBalance Product Roadmap

February 8th, 2014

Doug Hadden, VP Products

The annual FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) conference is the most important milestone on my product calendar. Annual vendor conferences are important in the life of any typical software product manager because it is the time when customers learn about new features, changes and new products. Software companies create a demand for this conference by holding back announcements and creating a sense of excitement. This manipulation is clever but far from customer centric. In fact, it’s all about the vendor.

We sought to change the dynamic from product-centric to customer-centric events in 2007. This meant that much of the ceremony associated with vendor conferences had to change:

  • Company to Customer needs: switch the focus from what the company needs to what customers are concerned about regardless of what the FreeBalance contribution towards solutions might be.
  • Selling to Engagement: switch the business emphasis from selling by staffing the conference with executives and managers rather than salespeople. Engage customers so that we can improve products and services.
  • Dictate to Collaborate: switch the dynamic from dictating what products will be provided when to customers changing product priorities, adapting the roadmap and working together for common objectives.
  • Controlling to forum: switch the communications paradigm from slick and controlled presentations to a forum where customers engage other customers, external speakers and FreeBalance staff to learn what works in Public Financial Management (PFM) reform.

Roadmap Voting

The FreeBalance product team provides an updated roadmap at every FISC event. New modules that have been created in the previous year that were selected for development by FISC are demonstrated. The roadmap that consists of modules for which there are contractual commitments are described. Modules that have not had customer commitment are also described. This second set of roadmap items consists of modules that may be anywhere in the development lifecycle from vision to beta-quality. FISC is able to change the roadmap such that modules that are close to completion are put on hold in favour of other modules.

The pattern of customer needs has changed over the past 8 years. It doesn’t make sense for us to complete modules that may have had value in the past but no longer. Most software companies, in my experience, believe that they have more clever staff and better analysis of technology trends than customers. As a result, product managers set product priorities, rarely customers. Our product managers and business analysts are embedded in the PFM discipline so that we are able to predict upcoming trends. The requisite skill that needs to be developed for product managers in a customer-centric company is to be able to use domain knowledge and customer engagement to hone in on these trends. We leap at the outliers and ask the questions that let us understand the context.

This year was no exception in roadmap voting – one class of Government Resource Planning (GRP) modules that had received moderate votes in past years moved to near the top. This was something fascinating because there had not seemed to be a major demand and the needs seemed to be satisfied by other vendors. It turns out that this GRP domain, like many in government financial management, is under-served by incumbent vendors. The technology is dated and inflexible. And, high cost.

I engaged our global staff through one of the internal social media tools that we use at FreeBalance. This generated a lot of nuanced insight that forms a compelling picture of needs. In particular, the need to reform and update processes – something that is constant and relentless in government. This is one of the critical aspects of making PFM reform sustainable: technology that enables, rather than inhibits, process modernization.

Technologists might wonder how FreeBalance has a sustainable software development model if we are constantly changing the product roadmap. Customers expectations have been set by large enterprise software vendors to expect 3 to 5 year product roadmaps with only minor changes. How can the roadmap change yearly? (Trust me, it changes far more frequently than this because we have some effective customer engagement processes.

Legacy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software requires long roadmap processes. (By “legacy”, I mean the top tier ERP packages from the largest four of five vendors.) The technology problem faced by these vendors differs from that faced by FreeBalance:

  • Government Platform: FreeBalance has developed a technology platform that forms the foundation for the government platform. All applications are built using reusable “business objects” that provides extensibility across the product suite. (We call these “government entities” to eliminate the word “business” as much as possible in our standard marketing material because we do not provide software to the private sector). This approach means that the development of net new applications leverages the entities for rapid development. And, any work accomplished for modules on hold have generated new entities that can be used elsewhere. Legacy ERP is developed on monolithic structures that prevents this reuse. (We often find that we can develop a net-new module faster than it takes to code-customize an off-the-shelf application designed for the private sector.)
  • Unifed: FreeBalance uses the platform as the fundamental metadata system of record for the entire suite. There is no need for complex integration among modules because the modules are already unified. There is no confusion in managing expenditure and revenue modules with core accounting. Budget and commitment controls are respected in every application. (This is somewhat unusual in the market where there are payroll, assets and procurement applications that have little or no idea of commitment controls. This results in non-compliance to government processes and frequently exceeding budgets.) This unified approach means that additional functionality does not provide an increased integration burden on FreeBalance as developer or government customers.
  • Open: Major software vendors attempt to build value through the use of proprietary technology. They seek to provide options in the software stack, particularly in middleware, that are more feature-rich than competitors. They fill product gaps by acquiring smaller firms, which adds to complexity and reduces economies of scale for vendors and customers alike. These vendors support some open standards, but are focused on adding perceived value across their product portfolio. When encountering a new opportunity, these vendors are predisposed to building from scratch or buying another vendor. FreeBalance, on the other hand, has an open system. We’re not in the business of having customers fund unneeded development. We’d rather integrate with open products, often open source (mostly the commercially supported versions of these), to keep costs affordable for customers. This also gives us choices to determine what approach we should take to meet requirements giving us economies of scale.

My sense is that we’ve got an inherently socially responsible approach to this market. We’ve evolved these processes over time and continue to seek better ways of embedded our government customers in our product decisions.