FreeBalance: EMPOWERING SMART GOVERNMENTS
FreeBalance is committed to making a difference in the world. FreeBalance provides an integrated set of governance advisory services and Government Resource Planning (GRP) solutions. FreeBalance is a government-only Business to Government (B2G) provider and a for-profit social enterprise focused on Smart and Balanced Prosperity. FreeBalance is a Canadian company with government customers in over 27 countries across the globe. Governments leverage FreeBalance software and expertise to support ongoing reform and achieve self-sufficiency.
The company’s experience in almost 30 countries, and its expertise gained from engaging the larger PFM community, has helped countries build PFM reform plans. The successful FreeBalance approach to PFM reform is to put customers first. Its unique solutions revolve around customer requirements and country context. FreeBalance customers actually participate in the product development process through the FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC). This collaborative approach ensures that FreeBalance products and services evolve in line with customer needs and reform agendas.
As a For-Profit Social Enterprise (FOPSE), FreeBalance aims to combat the social and economic problems across the world. Rather than just being an element of company operations, the core strategy of the company resides in serving in the domain of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and helping governments better serve citizens. Manuel Schiappa Pietra, the President & CEO of FreeBalance, says that “The story of FreeBalance is all about diversity, inclusiveness, kindness, and respect. For more than 30 years, we have worked hard enough to carve a niche for our company on which we are proud of and constructed a team that espouses the values we firmly believe in. Our firm possesses a global presence and we constantly strive to create a difference in the world.”
FreeBalance leverages its deep global government expertise and engagement with though leaders in good governance and the broader PFM community to meet the demands of the B2G market and prepare for future needs of government. FreeBalance executives are accessible to government customers. Local staff who understood country contexts are a lynchpin in the company’s combined global and local business model, known as “glocal”. The FreeBalance global footprint includes presence in countries like in- Canada, Honduras, India, Kosovo, Nicaragua, Philippines, Portugal, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Timor-Leste, Uganda, and the United States .
FreeBalance is a global For-Profit Social Enterprise(FOPSE). Its mission is to tackle global social and economic problems. This means that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is core to strategy, rather than a minor element of company operations. FreeBalance does engage in community CSR efforts in addition to operating as a social enterprise. FreeBalance funds our mission through commercial activity. Profit enables the company to invest to improve services and products that increase positive social impact. The profit motive also creates incentives for innovation. The social mission and profit motive means that FreeBalance can do well by doing good.
FREEBALANCE MISSION: SMART PROSPERITY
It is the FreeBalance mission, as a global government advisory and digital technology B2G provider and for profit social enterprise, to enable country Smart and Balanced Prosperity. Smart and Balanced Prosperity is a holistic government approach with:
- Good Governance through improved planning, transparency, accountability, and fiscal discipline using evidence to improve government effectiveness
- Sustainable Growth through aligning policy, planning, execution and performance to environmentally-sustainable citizen growth goals and physical infrastructure priorities
- Citizen Wellbeing through aligning policy, planning, execution and performance results to citizen social goals and social infrastructure priorities
- Government Digital Transformation through innovative use of smart digital technologies that extend systems of record to systems of engagement, intelligence, and innovation
FreeBalance improves governance through a smart government solution portfolio that includes:
- Sustainability: training, mentoring, support, upgrades, roadmap adjustments, and progressive activation making FreeBalance solutions adaptable and financially sustainable
- Implementation: governance advice, agile change and project management to optimize implementation success rates
- Advisory: management, leadership, governance, information technology, project management, government policy and process trusted advice to improve government performance
- Centres of Excellence new service: cooperative development, training, mentoring, and government innovation partnerships in customer countries to enable digital transformation and smart government, including innovation and training centres in FreeBalance regional offices
- Integration and Sourcing new service: systems integration, IT architectural design, and technology sourcing for government shared services for holistic and simplified turnkey environments
- Governance Platform using the current and future FreeBalance Accountability Platform for FreeBalance, FreeBalance partners, and FreeBalance customers to develop custom software
- Government Resource Planning suite of government enterprise software covering government performance, public finances, treasury, revenue, expenditures, and human capital management
- Public Investment Management – suite following the public investment lifecycle of policy, planning, financing, debt, infrastructure procurement, asset, and results management
- Social Investment Management – suite following the social investment lifecycle of policy, planning, education financing, health financing, employment financing, social safety financing, and results management
- Open Government suite expanding current fiscal transparency and information portals to citizen engagement
- CivicTech & GovTech – suite of mobile and citizen engagement applications beyond fiscal open government
- Smart City – suite combining public investment management for smart investments with integrated financial information for decisionmakers from smart assets, smart utilities, and smart infrastructure
INSPIRATION BEHIND THE NAME- FREEBALANCE
What could be the inspiration behind the name of this unique business venture- FreeBalance? FreeBalance was founded in 1984 in Ottawa, Canada as Linktek provided Government of Canada departments and agencies with a set of financial management and budgeting solutions. Customers were able to quickly see the amount available for spending, using commitment accounting functions, in real-time. The calculation of budget less commitments and actuals is known as the ‘free balance’. Linktek becomes so well known for “free balance” in real-time that it changes its name to “FreeBalance”.
The Company ensures good governance through improved planning, transparency, accountability and fiscal discipline using evidence to improve government effectiveness. Besides this, it ensures sustainable growth through aligning policy, planning, execution and performance to environmentally- sustainable citizen growth goals and physical infrastructure priorities. FreeBalance offers citizen’s wellbeing through aligning policy, planning, execution and performance results to citizen social goals and social infrastructure government Digital Transformation through innovative use of smart governance- digital technologies, FreeBalance Accountability Suite helps it to grow with sales in more advanced countries with a broader and more sophisticated feature set. It can win international competitive contracts versus Tier 1 ERP companies owing to far lower implementation costs because of a product configuration approach. FreeBalance extends the product suite to support the public investment management cycle that includes budget preparation, fiscal information, procurement and investment results transparency.
FreeBalance uses an ISO-9001:2015 certified development methodology called i3+qM™.
The unique characteristic of this agile methodology is that it covers software implementation, software customization for customers, and software product development. This is not a generic project management technique. Its government specific, built on over 30 years of experience in PFM and government transparency.
The characteristics of the methodology are:
- Integr ated through a single methodology to support development and services implementation. This is integrated with customer requirements through the customer-centric processes. This provides transparency between the customer staff, the implementers, and the development team.
- Iterative to be responsive to customer and implementation changes using phases. The methodology leverages the best of proven “lean” software development and services methodologies with workshops, short iterations, user stories, milestones and the ability to show progress. These techniques are extended beyond the development organization to implementation services leveraging productivity gains and ability to react to customer requirements.
- Implementation focused with good practice templates and proven program management processes. This methodology is focused on the success of the customer implementation, rather than a software release that achieves internal or arbitrary goals. Implementation and product development are managed via a Program Management Office.
- Quality approach ensures that the software is released and supported meeting Commercial Offthe- Shelf (COTS) good practices with unit, system, stress and regression testing. Quality is integrated with implementation where FreeBalance tests based on customer environments.
THE FREEBALANCE DIFFERENCE
The key differentiator for FreeBalance is its expertise in the government market. Software manufacturers, like FreeBalance, are rarely involved in government implementations. FreeBalance is involved as prime contractor or joint venture partner in all implementations.
Traditional enterprise software implementation teams for government projects consist of experts with the software package that was sold, but with limited experience in government. These teams tend to include government project experts who often have limited experience with the package that was sold, or with governments in similar circumstances. Government projects often run into problems when consultants do not fully understand the government context, or when there are incentives for systems integration firms to drive revenue through additional
services charges. Some consultants decide to limit capacity building because it reduces their long-term revenue opportunities.
The FreeBalance approach differs:
- Involved on the project team for all implementations to ensure that costs are minimized, so that governments can afford to purchase more GRP functionality to support future governance reform
- Uses expert PFM staff who understand our products and have implemented in many countries with similar circumstances
- Expert staff enables using fewer staff members than traditional enterprise software projects, which also improves coordination
- Expert staff understands good practices to provide advice on procedures and system setup
- Start local offices in countries where there is an implementation, and hire local staff at local rates
- Train local staff, and set up local support
- Focus on building the capacity of local FreeBalance staff and public servants in customer countries
- Share governance advances with customers at the annual FreeBalance International Steering Committee (FISC) event and the bi-annual FreeBalance Ministers’ Roundtable (FMRT)
ABOUT THE PRESIDENT & CEO OF FREEBALANCE
Manuel is a global executive and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of successful management experience in companies located in the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Latin America. He has a proven track record in building and running companies, from “startups” to well-established private and public organizations alongside consistently demonstrated an ability to build and lead successful teams and businesses in the international arena. As the President and CEO of FreeBalance, Manuel Schiappa Pietra leads global growth strategies focused on advancing the company’s objectives and promoting revenue, profitability and growth. Manuel has transformed the Firm into a customer-centric and socially responsible company increasing its footprint to 25 countries worldwide. He is responsible for ensuring that business venture fulfils its mission to help governments across the world by leveraging robust financial management technology to accelerate Company growth. Manuel is a recipient of the Next Generation Executive of the Year Award sponsored by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) and in 2009 he led the Company to win the prestigious Canada Export Achievement Award. FreeBalance was also recently recognized by CFI.co and at this, the CEO says, “We’re gratified to have been recognized by CFI.co with an international award for having one of the world’s most innovative solutions for management in the public sector.”
As Chairman of the H-20 Government Summit, the invitation-only Government Meeting of the World Happiness Summit®, Manuel spearheads the efforts to explore public policy innovation and wellbeing economics through a new perspective. Social and cultural values differ among countries, and growth and GDP focus often disconnects policy from citizen aspirations. The evolving science of happiness brings a new dimension to government policy and civic prosperity.
As Founding Chairman of the Board Endeavor Portugal, Manuel reinforces his endeavours and mission to support high-impact entrepreneurs, so that they can build thriving companies that employ thousands of people, generate billions in wages, and inspire countless others as role models. Together, these entrepreneurs hold the key to sustained economic growth in every part of the world. Manuel has held executive positions on the boards of several international companies and actively participated in the venture capital space. He has participated in several successful IPO’s in North America, Europe and South Africa.
Manuel has held executive positions on the boards of several international companies and actively participated in the venture capital space. He has participated in several successful IPO’s in North America, Europe and South Africa.