Digital disruption can be good for the public sector.
Skip to main content
young man in green jumper with a smile on his face leaning against a blue background

Why digital disruption is good for the public sector

from  February 27, 2020 | 4 min read

The digital capabilities of public sector organizations are far behind the private sector, and this gap is taking its toll. Unit4’s Head of Public Sector, Mark Gibbison, looks at how today’s ERP platforms help them modernize their systems to enable digital transformation. 

Public sector organisations are facing a worrying discrepancy between how the operational landscape is changing, and its ability to keep pace.

global survey by Deloitte has found that while 76 percent of government organisations believe digital technologies are disrupting their domain, 69 percent feel their capabilities in this area lag behind the private sector – and more than half (55 percent) aren’t confident that they can respond to digital trends.

The impact of this experience gap is significant. By holding back from digital transformation and failing to embrace agile business applications, government organisations cannot implement the sophisticated, seamless working processes and people-centred systems that their corporate counterparts are already benefitting from. But it’s not too late for change.

Delivering efficiencies

According to Deloitte's research, the main barriers to digital transformation in the public sector are tactical rather than strategic. Many government bodies cite a lack of overall technological strategy, challenges with organizational agility, and a shortage of technical skills as their reasons for failing to embrace new operational technologies. 

But these tactical issues are actually all underscored by a single theme: a lack of what we might call "operational readiness." Enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools can help an organization’s capabilities in these areas rather than act as an obstacle. 

An ironic situation emerges: for the public sector; the inability to cope with digital disruption can often be solved neatly by digital disruption. 

For example, up to 95% of government organizations want to increase their efficiency, and ERP technology can deliver immediate gains in this area. Choosing a platform with a simple user interface will enable non-tech-savvy users to make changes to the way their tools work that suit them, while clear reporting features enable quicker, more informed decision-making that isn't slowed down by the need to compile data from a vast array of sources manually. 

Moving to a system that automates everyday tasks and provides an agile, adaptable framework for collaboration will drastically reduce the time people spend on admin. Giving staff the freedom to focus on service delivery and higher-value strategic tasks. 

Increasing data insight

Another key objective for public services bodies is to become more data driven. Up to 85% want access to valuable insights. And this is only practical if every person within an organization works from the same centralized system to store and analyze data. 

By integrating how every staff member and the department work, institutions have complete transparency and visibility over their operational data. This encourages a climate of collaboration and innovation, but more importantly, it enables colleagues to draw on information from anywhere in the organization to make efficient and productive decisions. 

Enabling change

The desire for digital disruption and transformation isn’t just being driven by internal goals, either. Up to 94% of public sector institutions want to create better experiences for their citizens, and ERP technology can be the enabler for this change. Eliminating much of the back-office admin work takes vital time, attention, and resources away from creating a pleasant service experience for the people, ultimately relying on your organization. 

We've already mentioned the benefits of data transparency for employees; its impact on external relations is significant, too. Transparent systems for data analysis mean government organizations are accountable for every decision, improving the public’s trust that funds are being spent effectively. Regulatory reporting becomes significantly more straightforward, and records are never misplaced due to being distributed over a tangled mess of different systems, drives, spreadsheets, and files. 

More importantly, by using in-built reporting features, public service bodies can use their ERP platform to prove results and track progress towards targets. Meaning more people are helped, change is achieved faster, fewer opportunities to offer support are missed, and goals are less likely to be abandoned if progress isn’t immediately visible or circumstances change. 

Confidence over cost concerns

Public sector institutions already recognize digital disruption’s impact on business – the changes it’s causing to the way organizations work. And there’s a clear alignment between their strategic goals and the transformational capabilities of ERP technology. So what’s causing the public sector to lag behind? Why isn’t there a more urgent call for change? 

Tactics aside, one of the main barriers to adoption is cost. Insufficient funding and competing priorities mean many organizations put technology investment on the backburner – without realising the cost-saving potential that a little more confidence could yield. 

Many may not realise that "saving money" by putting off digital transformation could actually be costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars year on year. (To see a breakdown of a typical case, check out one of our public sector business value reviews.) 

Good ERP technology isn’t beyond the reach of most organizations in the public sector. When you account for:  

  • Lost time  
  • Work carried out in error  
  • Admin overheads  
  • The cost inherent in on-premise systems in terms of data warehousing, hardware, and upgrade downtime (as opposed to cloud solutions, where there are no such hidden costs)  

It may even be cheaper than maintaining the systems you’re currently running. 

And even when considering upfront costs, the return on investment far outweighs the initial expenditure.  

The secret to success is partnering with the right tech partner to ensure any new platform delivers effective digital transformation. 

Sign up to see more like this

Getting the right tech for your business – how Unit4 can help you

To discover why your organization should embrace the right technology and how it can use it as a platform for delivering a higher level of public service, check out our on-demand webinar on using our software to increase the citizen value of your services. 

To learn more about how Unit4 can transform your organization into a model of high impact non-profit performance, visit our product page today, click here to register for our webinars, or click here to book a demo