Citizen pressure – how important is it in public service transformation? | Unit4
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Citizen pressure – how important is it in public service transformation?

from  November 23, 2022 | 3 min read

One of the most compelling trends experienced by organizations in both the private and public sectors in recent years is a sudden rise in expectations.

From telehealth to telework, virtual courts to virtual education large-scale experiments were rolled out quickly and at scale during COVID-19. Digital helped 74% of agencies cope with the pandemic and 77% are already seeing a positive impact from the digital initiatives introduced. But 80% believe that their organization’s digital efforts haven’t gone far enough. As Deloitte put it governments need to take advantage of the current momentum to push forward on the path to becoming a truly digital enterprise, to thrive in a fast-changing and uncertain world.

The rise in availability of technology and software that’s easily accessible and extremely simple to use – such as in the realm of consumer tech like smartphones and seamless digital experiences in the retail sector – has led to citizens increasingly expecting quick, efficient digital services from public sector organizations.

But just how important is citizen pressure as a driver of changes to services?

As it turns out, citizen pressure is a leading force of service changes

According to our State of the Digital Nation report on the state of public sector transformation, virtually all public sector organizations have seen changes to services over the past 24 months. While only around a third of the 500 organizations surveyed cited reductions to funding as a cause, well over half cited both “public pressure to improve spending transparency” and “pressure to make things slicker and smarter for citizens.”

What’s interesting is that there’s virtually no statistical difference in the frequency with which these reasons are cited between regions – citizen pressure of one form or another is a major force in the evolution of services across the globe, from the USA to the UK to Australia, Belgium, and Sweden.

How are public sector organizations meeting increasing citizen expectations?

Since 2020, we’ve all grown accustomed to conducting most of our lives digitally. (In fact, according to one report the average person now spends as much as 7 hours every day online.) People now not only assume they’ll be able to access government services digitally, they assume that those services will be as simple to access, quick to use, and as available as those they use to manage every other part of their lives – from the food they buy to the work they do and the entertainment they consume.

Making this kind of wholesale change is a tough sell in a sector notoriously reticent towards change. About 69% of organizations report that their workforce resist change when it comes to service delivery. A change-averse leadership emerges as the biggest single issue across the board – with resistance from both the top and the bottom perpetuating each other to create a larger problem.

Despite this, our research shows that public sector organizations are already beginning to adapt to this reality – with the most commonly cited success metric for their digital services across various different organization types being the speed of service access (although curiously, citizen satisfaction with service quality isn’t yet being used as a major metric by more than about a third of organizations.)

What can public sector organizations do to ensure their services meet changing citizen needs?

To ensure citizen needs are met – without placing undue strain on frontline service providers – public sector organizations must focus on providing seamless digital experiences.

A good digital experience shouldn’t be seen simply as a nicety or a “cherry on top” of effective service delivery. It should be seen as a core part of the service itself.

To illustrate why, ask yourself what happens when a person trying to access vital information or make an essential payment is confronted with an online system that’s either excessively complicated or unintuitive.

You’ve probably encountered such a situation yourself at one point or another. And you’ve probably done exactly what most people do in such a situation:

  1. Abandon the process entirely (which can cause problems for everyone later on)
  2. Called a support number to ask for help knowing that only manual intervention is likely to get you the result you need.

Both of these options are likely – in their own way – to place burden on the already stretched resources of the organization, directing the time of your people away from more strategic and value-added aspects of service provision.

What does a “good digital experience” actually look like?

Rather than being purely about looks, a good digital experience is one that supports the user’s needs and expedites processes they need to complete to achieve the outcome they want as much as possible.

This can mean anything from paying close attention to content design to ensuring that information is coherently ordered and accessible. When it comes to handling and processing citizen data and service requests specifically, it also requires a unified platform for data management and back-office processes.

One of the biggest weaknesses of public sector legacy software – particularly that used in citizen service provision – is that it is siloed by design and by default. Valuable user data that can be used across numerous processes is often left inaccessible by other systems. This not only means a lot of work is being duplicated that doesn’t need to be – but also that information that could be used to drive proactive service provision and real time help is going to waste.

Switching to a single unified platform creates a seamless and collaborative experience that enables staff to work beyond silos to deliver better frontline services when and where they’re needed.

How can Unit4 help you?

Unit4 has been creating enterprise software with service-based organizations like public sector organizations in mind for over 40 years. Our cloud-based ERP, FP&A, and HCM solutions act as a unified environment for back-office processes within your organizations, creating efficiencies driven through personalization, automation, and improved data visibility that create the working environments your people need to focus less on administration, and more on service provision. Our Public Sector industry model for implementation also means you can be up and running with any of our solutions in just half the time taken by typical implementation projects ­– with relevant best practices already enabled. Check out our dedicated public sector pages here to learn more or click here to book a demo.

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