The future of the public sector: why choosing to move to the cloud isn't really a choice at all
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The future of the public sector: why choosing to move to the cloud isn't really a choice at all

from  September 10, 2020 | 3 min read

While there may still be a place for on-premise, the demands of remote working, access requirements, and service delivery pressures mean that all public sector bodies must make migrating to the cloud part of their future strategy. Here, we'll consider the challenges for the public sector for which cloud is the only solution - from cost control to better connecting to citizens.

In the past few months, public sector organizations have been under a new kind of pressure. A pressure not just to find ways to do more with less, but a pressure that threatens their ability to deliver essential services that millions rely on.

Technology will play a major goal in addressing these challenges – in the form of ERP systems that enable more flexible ways of working, HCM that plays an active role in talent attraction and retention, and financial systems like FP&A tools that help you plan and budget for any eventuality.

But many organizations will be forced to completely rethink the role software plays in their operations to fully navigate the uncertainty. Cloud will play a key role in this transformation.

The challenges of 2020 can only be solved with cloud

From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to longer-term trends like population change, the public sector’s challenges can be broadly broken into three major categories:

  1. Increased demand on services (either due to demographic changes or unexpected social disruptions).
  2. The need for both service users and your own people to access key platforms from a variety of locations on a variety of devices.
  3. The need to control costs without compromising service quality (or the experience of users) or creating bottlenecks to growth and agility.

All three of these categories create a need to rapidly course-correct and redistribute resources as circumstances change. Whether through more careful cash management that ensures there’s always enough to cover unexpected changes, or planning and modelling more effectively to be better prepared for every strategic contingency.

This requires a level of flexibility and processing power that legacy systems aren’t capable of delivering. They lack the ability to match growing demand while keeping costs realistic. They can’t be easily adapted to allow seamless remote access. And anyone who’s had to deal with a retrofitted legacy system will know, they won’t provide the flexibility necessary to respond quickly to changes.

Enter the cloud

The cloud represents more than a way to warehouse data. It provides the fundamental architecture on which to build the software solutions that can solve the problems we’ve outlined above.

Making the decision to switch to the cloud presents challenges of its own, but it neatly handles most of the main stumbling blocks of public sector IT infrastructure projects. There are no hidden costs (of implementation, maintenance, or upgrading.) Processing burdens are handled largely off-device, meaning everyone can work remotely and request or access their services from any device. And cloud solutions can, by their very nature, be scaled, reconfigured, and strategically reimagined without anyone having to down tools and wait around (and without your service users having to wait around either.)

Beyond this, cloud solutions radically simplify and expedite one of the biggest traditional headaches of new IT solutions – the implementation. With no need to install, upgrade, remove, “tweak”, or otherwise wrestle your systems into place, all that remains is the process of getting people on board.

Sounds amazing – so how do we get there?

Cloud migration isn’t something that happens overnight. To prepare your organization for the shift, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  1. Gather your requirements. Figure out precisely what you need to keep your organization operationally capable – and plan for the long term. Scope the need in terms of decades rather than years.
  2.  Determine which parts require cloud to function efficiently. Depending on user density, access requirements, and the needs of your people, certain elements of your systems may work more effectively in-house.
  3. Pick the right implementation model for your organization. How you adopt cloud technology will depend greatly on your current ways of working and your specific operational needs. Picking the right model will put you on the fast track to reaping the rewards – with a gentler learning curve and quicker time to value.

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