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The continued need for resilience in the public sector

from  March 15, 2023 | 4 min read

The last two years have brought enormous pressure to bear on governments and public sector organizations. But however difficult we think they might have been, there’s more disruption to come, and continued economic uncertainty will force many organizations to revisit their priorities and plans multiple times in the coming months.

This will be especially difficult as new waves of budget cuts land and rising inflationary pressures combine with ongoing supply chain disruption. Critical flaws in the way governments plan for the availability of key services have already been exposed by COVID-19, and these structural weaknesses are likely only to increase in the face of further disruption.

This period of continuing challenges will require governments to increase their resilience and agility even further – something the UK recognized recently with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport calling for views on the resilience and security of the software being used across government. And this will only be possible by continuing to adopt new technologies and pursuing further digital transformation at an accelerated pace, given the current average of 2.5 years to reach completion (Vanson Bourne, State of the Nation, 2021).

Click to read Helping public sector organizations enhance v2

Resilience in government: the benefits

According to Deloitte, a resilient organization is an organization that plans and invests for disruption, and can adapt, endure, and rebound quickly in a way that enables them not only to succeed in the aftermath of disruption, but also lead the way to what comes after.

Government resilience is just as important as resilience in the private sector, with research identifying that the right investment in resilience at the national level can boost GDP by more than 1% a year over the course of a decade. An alluring figure in a period where growth forecasts are lower than they have been since the financial crisis for many countries.

Resilience in government: the challenge

But building resilience in government is a much larger task than building resilience in industry. Governments are under much more intense levels of public scrutiny, and the scope of the services they provide is generally much larger than those provided by any other organization type.

Resilience in government: the solution

For governments this will mean a combination of both operational and societal resiliency. 

Both must be underpinned by several basic strategic approaches, including:

The removal of silos

At all levels, constituents expect and demand more transparency, honesty, and clarity from governments with regards to how their money is spent and how service delivery operates. Providing this transparency requires a step change in the way government organizations gather and use data. This will mean that cooperation and collaboration between different teams, departments, and agencies will be an operational necessity going forward.

Simple and seamless digital access

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that disruptions can make traditional methods of service delivery and even interaction impractical or impossible for extended periods of time.

This makes it vital that all essential services are available digitally, and that everyone has access to them. And this doesn’t just mean governments will have to take greater responsibility for ensuring internet access availability. It means greater attention will have to be paid to the way that digital services are designed. People have already been conditioned to expect ever more glossy and seamless experiences from their exposure to consumer apps. They will now expect them from government services as well – and providing them can no longer be seen as a luxury.

Embracing the people-centric model of governance

People-centricity is a new mode of thinking for many organizations, dispensing with the top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to interactions and leveraging technology to allow individuals to pick and choose how and where they interact with organizations. More proactive people-centric approaches can allow you to make use of connected data to map personalized user journeys for each of your users, helping you to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion principles into your day today delivery and workflows.

All of this can only be made possible through next generation systems…

The level of resilience you’ll need for the coming years demands digitally enabled workforces and organizations, with common sets of real-time data and connected eco-systems. This will enable data and analytics to progressively test and learn to improve processes, and emerging technology like AI to automate and streamline workflows in a way that allows your people to work proactively to provide better services and spot and exploit opportunities for innovation.

It will also enable you to better manage your suppliers, with effective due-diligence at the selection stage, all the way through to automated contract generation and utilization monitoring. Much needed in a sector that has historically been targeted by fraudulent activity.

… and leadership willing to implement them – with a strong focus on time to value

Resilience ultimately depends on leaders able to take the initiative and make investments. We now have an excellent A/B test for this principle in the form of COVID. Resilient leaders tend to focus on the long term rather than the short, and their entire organizations are rewarded with the foundations that allow them to weather future shocks. Those who stay too focused on (or paralyzed by) short-term thinking fail to make the investments necessary to build agility, and their organizations suffer the consequences down the line.

However, the ultimate key to success is ensuring that the deployment of any new system is very clearly linked to organizational goals, considered as part of a broader ecosystem and includes a fusion team of technologists and operational leads. Only with this approach can governmental digital projects, which are statistically far less likely to reach fruition than in the private sector, deliver measurable value to the organization quickly.

How can Unit4 help you?

Unit4 has been creating and delivering enterprise software to public sector organizations for over 40 years.

Our cloud-based ERP, FP&A, HCM, and S2C solutions provide the perfect platform on which to build the foundations of your future resilience and act as a unified environment for back-office processes within your organizations, helping you manage your operations today and plan your workforces and finances for the future while supporting your people with a great experience and the tools necessary to work effectively. All 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 Source to Contract solution also gives you the power to digitize and control every aspect of your procurement process to realize greater efficiency and value.

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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