Category Archives: Best Practices

How to Make a Big Software Switch Less Intimidating

Oh no you’ve really done it this time!

You’ve met with the vendor. You’ve made the decision. You’ve cut the purchase order. And now? Now you have to go through with it!

A major software change is incredibly intimidating for many agencies seeking an update to their systems. It means dealing with a lot of information, learning new processes, integrating the system, taking the network off-line, and training employees. As a software provider for local governments, schools and utilities, we are no strangers to the intimidation factor. That’s why we’ve pledged a great deal of our efforts towards making the process as pain-free as possible. Read more >

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Five Ideas for Creating Transparency Within Your Local Agency

Paul Gillin of the book The New Influencers is noted as saying “Transparency may be the most disruptive and far-reaching innovation to come out of social media.”

Isn’t that the truth? Good or bad, social media has changed the way the government and media releases information. Social media allows people of all ages, genders, classes and interests to share, spread and consider new information in a single keystroke. It is a very powerful—and sometimes—intimidating tool.

But as the saying goes: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Accordingly, more government agencies are accepting and embracing this new age of transparency online, which has allowed their constituents greater access to, and the ability to participate in the sharing of public information. Read more >

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Make Ordering Forms Less Taxing with RMPS

Forms are the norm with 1099s, W2s, 1095s, and utility bills to boot! But now, you can get them all from one reliable, trusted supplier.

Our partners over at Rocky Mountain Print Solutions (RMPS) produce and deliver BMS-formatted forms that integrate perfectly with Black Mountain Software. This partnership ensures your form printing is accurate and improves your mailing success. RMPS also allows you to consolidate your form and printer supply needs to a single vendor with convenient online ordering, great prices, and fast delivery.

Rocky Mountain Print Solutions for BMS clients are great because:

  • BMS integrated pre-formatted forms cut down on time
  • Pricing is very competitive
  • The product is high-quality
  • Ordering is done online
  • Form accuracy is guaranteed
  • Shipping is fast and free on orders over $100
  • Forms and cards are formatted to efficiently and seamlessly work with the Black Mountain Software interface

To further maximize your efficiency, RMPS can also meet your Utility Billing needs – either for standard letter or post card bills – at incredibly reasonable prices. Read more >

Posted in Best Practices, BMS Partners, BMS Products, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities, Utility Billing | Comments Off on Make Ordering Forms Less Taxing with RMPS

Common Mistakes to Avoid with Year-End Financial Statements

Anyone that has ever worked with year-end financial statements knows that a thorough review to ensure accuracy and accountability is vital. With so many items and numbers to scour, it’s a daunting and overwhelming task. But, to help with the year-end financial report blues, we’ve compiled a list of the most common mistakes found on financial statements so you can know what to look for ahead of time.

Overlooked Expense Line Items

Sometimes, even large expenditures can be overlooked. These expenses can include everything from salaries and benefits, costs to provide services, to office supplies and other operating expenses. A quick once-over and comparison to estimated expenses on the budget can help guarantee that an expense has not been miscategorized. Read more >

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Evolving Cyberthreats Lead to Evolved Cybersecurity

With more people working from home, cybersecurity is more important than ever. Threat actors are becoming increasingly bold in their attacks and ransomware continues to be the preferred method of infiltration. Cybersecurity experts, however, are also adapting with the times by focusing on a previously overlooked aspect of ransomware attacks: dwell time.

According to cybersecurity news outlet Dark Reading, “dwell time” refers to “the length of time an interloper remains undetected inside the network.” They note that traditionally, ransomware attacks operate under “smash-and-grab” tactics. Where, once downloaded, malicious files attempt to encrypt as many files and workstations as possible. Now, though, these files are lingering, allowing operators to lurk in the shadows of a targeted network, studying how it operates and identifying valuable resources to exploit or hijack for bigger payoffs. Read more >

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Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

The latest trend in government is all about transparency—and the embrace of innovative technology by government is making it easier than ever to provide transparency simply, efficiently, and accurately.

It can, however, leave your agency exposed to the public, and they may have questions when looking at your budget and books. In this scenario, a good audit trail is essential because it can save your agency time, preserve its reputation, and minimize errors.

The concept is simple: changes to accounting records should be documented and saved for future reference. Software, such as the governmental accounting software offered by BMS, makes this process straightforward. An audit trail will help you log, maintain, and monitor your accounting processes to protect yourself and your agency from fraud, fines for non-compliance, and potential funding issues. Read more >

Posted in Accounting Basics, Best Practices, BMS Products, City Clerk Cafe, Government Accounting Standards, Office Efficiency, School Software, Small Cities | Comments Off on Why a Good Audit Trail is Important

Don’t Get Duped When Upgrading Your Utility Infrastructure

American City & County magazine recently published an article detailing the misadventures of Jackson, Mississippi’s attempt to upgrade their water meter and billing systems after signing a contract with Siemens, Inc. The contract (signed in December of 2012) was supposed to generate 120 million dollars in guaranteed savings. However, incorrectly installed water meters and syncing issues with the city’s wireless networks led to residential customers being heavily overcharged while some industrial customers never even received a bill. The city’s attempts to rectify these problems led to increased operating costs and no savings, despite Siemen’s guarantee.

Unsurprisingly, the City of Jackson sued Siemens and local subcontractors over the debacle. Read more >

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The Purpose of Governmental Budgeting

The budget preparation process is an opportunity for an agency to collaboratively set and meet financial goals. So what may seem like a bunch of never-ending numbers on a spreadsheet is actually much more: a plan of action for the future of both the agency and the community it serves.

Since many of our clients are actively participating in preliminary budget preparation right now, we thought this would be the perfect time to discuss the four goals of the budget process to highlight why it is so important.

The Four Goals of the Budget Preparation Process

1. Establish Goals to Guide Future Decision Making

The first step of budget preparation is to create a set of budgetary goals. Read more >

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How to Effectively Work from Home

While opportunities for telecommuting and remote work have become more prominent within the tech sector over the last few years, working from home is now a reality for many. This digital reinvention of the workplace can be a jarring transition from regular office life, but it doesn’t have to be.  

Unlike in Japan, most American tech workers are uniquely positioned, both logistically and culturally, to easily work from home due to increases in the availability of cloud technology and access to home Wi-Fi and personal computers. Efficiency, however, can be an issue. Luckily, there are plenty of tools available to keep efficiency high or even increase it. Read more >

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Current Tax Season Scams

Tax season is now in full swing so it’s important to make sure you get a refund and not ripped off. Scammers are incredibly sneaky when it comes to exploiting people’s fears and tax-induced anxiety makes the IRS a perfect cover for shenanigans. Accordingly, we thought it beneficial to address a few common techniques (recently compiled by Infosec and reported on in the Washington Post) criminals currently employ to help ensure you know what to look out for this tax season.

Phishing

This approach is all bait—where scammers send seemingly legitimate emails that lure victims into downloading malicious software via link in order to gain access to their devices, and subsequently, their information. Read more >

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