Digital transformation can help you manage the true cost of COVID, in the view of Sally Murdoch, Public Sector Director at Unit4
The long-term implications and costs of COVID will be felt in the public sector for many years. But properly implemented cloud solutions can help offset these costs through greater operational efficiencies and innovation.
Here, we discuss how the public sector can face the paradox of responding to huge increases in demand for services with ever-dwindling funds.
The COVID crisis has touched every part of the public sector. Increasing the burdens of cost and uncertainty imposed by traditional ways of working, regulations and approval systems. And most of this cost has actually been borne by the very people the public sector is counting on to create and sustain employment and revitalise the economy at the local level – the citizens the public sector is intended to serve.
In this environment, public sector organisations must work hard to develop new approaches to the way they work. Creating better experiences and working environments for their own people – many of whom may be working remotely for the foreseeable future. Giving them access to the kind of responsive digital and analogue service experiences that have become ubiquitous in the private sector over the past few years.
Unfortunately, this means that the cost of COVID is likely to stay with us much longer than the pandemic itself. Government trends and targets which existed before 2020 have been accelerated, making digitisation less of a long-term project and more a necessity for survival.
The public sector’s new financial challenges
The sudden shift to remote working has forced many public sector organisations to rethink the way that they deliver key services. Organisations are now under tremendous pressure to increase productivity and reduce costs – even as labour costs grow and administrative complexity increases.
They must also respond to the land-use and tax impacts of fundamental changes to the way people use retail space, office buildings, and parking. With many companies closing stores and moving online, businesses have changed their corporate real estate strategy, and fewer people using car parks, receipts are down and will likely stay down for the considerable future – placing huge pressure on funding across the entire sector.
The need for police reform in response to rising calls-for-service at incidents and greater collaboration due to the complexity of crime, represents yet another area where public sector organisations will be expected to achieve more with less – as are community development and business support programmes, which will also be increasingly in demand as the economy continues to adjust to the impacts of the pandemic.
Using technology to bridge the gap between public expectations and economic reality
At Unit4, we’ve developed our next generation of people-focused enterprise tech solutions to help the public sector face the seeming paradox of responding to huge increases in demand for services – and huge increases in the expectation of those services – with ever-dwindling funds.
ERPx – our fully cloud native next-gen ERP system – is built to radically simplify your back-office systems. Creating a single working environment and source of truth for the entire organisation that allows you to integrate multiple services and tools into one powerful system – that still retains a lightweight and intuitive user experience for your end-users.
Its AI and machine learning capabilities provide a foundation for the intelligent automation of many of your day-to-day workflows. Removing the burden of admin from your staff and freeing them up to pursue higher standards of citizen services. Saving the entire organisation time and money which can be refocused into more productive areas. AI-powered data analytics also help to synthesise insights in real-time to match resources to needs and create realistic and actionable forecasts for finances, HR, and service demand.
Case study: Finding success for Forest Research during COVID with the cloud
With Unit4 ERP, Forest Research has replaced a third-party shared services environment – and numerous data silos – with a unified cloud-based operating environment. Increasing decision speed, allowing the agency to be the first government organisation to present their accounts to Parliament (in spite of lockdowns), and ensuring that 99.6% of suppliers are paid within 10 days.
Case study: Bringing Southampton City Council from on-premise to the cloud
In 2017, a review of Southampton City Council’s IT systems identified a need to streamline finance, HR, payroll, and income management to reduce annual expenditures of £515 million. Their experience during the COVID crisis further highlighted the need for joined-up systems to let departments work more closely together – even while staff were working from home.
The council settled on a cloud solution to better control costs and limit the strain on data centres, and facilitate greater resilience and ease of access for users. Our ERP provides Southampton City Council with full disaster recovery, a single source of truth to expedite reporting processes and better manage resources and the foundation to drive future efficiencies and innovation. So far, the new implementation has been able to redirect £200,000 to support service delivery as a result of our ERP.
Established in 1980, Unit4 is a global business with 3,200 employees and operations in over 100 countries, with more than 6,000 customers globally – 4,500 of which are in government or the third sector.
Our next-generation cloud platform ERPx unites the capabilities of Financials, Procurement, Project Management, HR, and FP&A to create a powerful and people-centric suite of tools. Allowing everyone who works for your organisation to benefit from better insight and become more effective and engaged. It supports rapid and continuous change while delivering an individualised fit for customers at scale, delivering the right tools to unify the processes across their organisation and connect their people.
Our roadmap focuses on further increasing low and no-code capabilities to create solutions with a lightweight user experience for all users and the in-depth customisability needed by power-users to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.
Discover how Unit4 can help you create the operational ecosystems that prepare you for the future and help you manage the cost of COVID.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
© 2019. This work is licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND.
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