Getting strategic about capital planning

Every year, Australian local governments waste an estimated $1.5 billion on inefficient project management according to the national audit office.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Effective, confident and strategic capital planning, including how to manage existing and potential revenue streams, can help ensure your council doesn’t make those mistakes.

Capital planning shouldn’t have to be rocket science. Essentially, it’s about identifying and prioritising infrastructure and asset needs over a medium to long term period. For councils, it’s an indispensable tool for ensuring you can meet the needs of your communities in a sustainable and affordable way.

1. Making sure you investments are purposeful by aligning resources with greatest community impact

2.Ensuring built-in resilience and banishing crisis-driven management

4. Increased accountability and transparency

Read more about the benefits of capital planning here.

Accessing government grants

Grants offer a financial lifeline for essential community projects and infrastructure upgrades and can account for up to 50 per cent of council revenue, according to ALGA.

However, when it comes to accessing them, unfortunately it’s not as simple as ‘ask and you shall receive’.

There can be intense competition for grant funds, which means you must be able to demonstrate a a compelling case backed by a good track record of grant management.

Grants often come tangled in red tape, including compliance and reporting obligations, and often require dollar-for-dollar funding. They are often also tied to specific projects and an ‘expiry date’ associated with specific timeframes.

Then there can be hidden additional costs – according to the Grattan Institute for eveyry $100 million spent on a local government project an additional $21 million is spent on unexpected costs.

  1. Build a database of potential grants and target the ones that meet your vision and eligibility
  2. Articulate your case in a  clear, evidence based way
  3. Demonstrate that you have a well structured framework for delivering your promised outcomes
  4. Diversify your funding
  5. Integrate the appropriate tech solutions, including specialised grant management software which can streamline administrative tasks, boost transperancy, enhance the impact of received grants and reduce risks.

Find out more about making the most out of grants here.

Don’t be afraid of adopting technology

Depending on disconnected systems and scattered spreadsheets for your capital planning poses a big challenge to the integrity of your governance framework. It can also cause delays and inaccuracies when communicating key information to stakeholders and the community.

Fortunately, there’s been a rise of local government software solution to help time and resource poor local governments implement strategic capital planning and grants management.

Dedicated software acts as a centralised and consolidated repository for all project information, from budget details to progress updates. This not only helps you keep ongoing projects rolling, but also contributes to more effective communication.

Effective communication and robust community management is key for the success of capital projects, and tailoring your message to address individual needs indicates commitment and connection.

Incorporating a wide range of communication methods, such as town hall meetings, newsletters, and local media, alongside contemporary platforms like social media and digital forums (such as your website), ensures a broad reach.

Digital platforms are not just tools for disseminating project information – they also serve as dynamic spaces for feedback and interactive discussions. This digital dialogue promotes a sense of involvement and collaboration amongst stakeholders.

*SurePact’s White Paper Mastering Capital Planning: Your LGA’s roadmap to impact provides strategies for successful grants administration and how to use capital planning to make sure community development meets financial capability.

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