Better than Excel? CostTree Offers Web-Based Alternative

Posted on December 18, 2014

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It’s why we love the Twitterverse because it gets us connected to groups like CostTree, a Sacramento, CA based business. We break from profiling legislative tools such as BillTrack50 and POLCO to highlight CostTree which focuses on cost allocation plans.

Cost Tree on Cost Tree

1921919_820454411316471_4900402533302797567_nCostTree (Facebook and Twitter) is an intuitive, reliable, cost effective software for you to maximize your reimbursements through your cost allocation plan. CostTree embodies professionalism, integrity, responsiveness, quality, and expert knowledge through the most innovative software on the market. CostTree was crafted from the input and expertise of numerous experts, clients and auditors, encompassing everything desired in a cost plan system.

Q & A with Nick Erlandson

10624781_951555221539722_8694473824535765089_nCostTree Development Director

The three most important things we need to know about CostTree.

  • Our software for the cost plan preparation process was created by a consultant herself, with 14 years of experience solely in cost plans.
  • We are a web-based system. No work for your IT department, and automatic updates are included.
  • CostTree is a software and a service. You have support along with your license, which translates to empowerment for your city.

Talk about how I would know if my organization could benefit from CostTree.1003164_661470093881571_1398784221_n

Whether it is reimbursement for federal funding, internal reimbursement of general fund support, creating indirect cost rates, examining your full cost for user fee implementation, or aiding in the grants management application of your overhead rate, CostTree and associated overhead costs can be used for all these reasons.

Give us three tips for how government can better work with outside vendors.

  • Transparency: fully understand the process and platform on which work is completed.  Our solution provides ultimate transparency and allows all stakeholders to have insight into the process.
  • Ask the questions first, understand the expectations and set deadlines for your vendors.
  • Know the market rate of similar services and understand when you are not receiving the end product you purchased.

For our non-finance members, provide a brief definition of a cost plan.

A Cost Allocation Plan is a document that fully supports overhead allocations spread within an agency.  These costs are based on actual service received and are a means to recoup dollars back into the agency for services rendered.

Give us examples of cities who are leaders in developing a useful cost plan.

download (1)Any city who is proactive in the preparation of their cost plan is a leader in its development. This can include those cities who use a trusted outside consultant to prepare it for them, cities who do it in-house, and cities who utilize a software, like CostTree, to aid in the preparation of their cost plan. All options result in a means to support ICRPs, outside claiming, user fees, and to recoup overhead.

Talk about transitioning to the Cost Tree platform. What are common challenges? How long does it take?

The transition to the CostTree platform directly ties to the ease of transition of the Excel uploads of your data. Also, depending on your prior knowledge and the complexity of allocations, the time associated to transition your info will vary, but will be easily determined in an initial conversation. This can be done in days, as opposed to weeks or months. On average, CostTree has improved plan preparation time by 80-90%.

CostTree’s vision statement includes the phrase, “an innovative, intuitive cost allocation platform.” Describe what is innovative about the platform.

downloadUnlike Excel, which you customize, CostTree’s software is already customized to fit the structure of a cost plan. It is agile in that it can adjust to your specific structure.  It is also innovative because it was built by a plan preparer, with the personal experience of preparing 600 cost plans built into the system to have as much consultant intelligence as possible.

In general, talk about a few tips for getting organizations to buy into new software.

It is important express the full cost involved in the service or product for which you are paying. Knowing what to expect should ease some of the concerns. Although buying into a new software can seem risky, the reward for a well-constructed system is worth the reward. For CostTree, it is important to note that updates are included in your licensing agreement and there are no maintenance fees. We are web-based, meaning you do not have to utilize your IT department. These items, along CostTree’s multiple layers of support, should promote the transition.

What question(s) should we have asked?

  • Why is it beneficial for our agency to take over the plan rather than working with an outside consultant?
  • Why is CT a valuable asset in producing my cost allocation plan? What does it produce and what does it teach?
  • Why would a consultant, who can clearly charge more to personally prepare cost plans for clients, create a software for agencies to do it in-house at a lower price?
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