How can public sector

How can the public sector draw on digital power to meet reporting demands?

Public services are under pressure, and not just from users. Regulatory demands are constantly changing the field of play – and industry leaders need to respond quickly and flexibly to meet continually evolving demands. Mark Gibbison, Unit4’s head of public services, looks at how they are doing it.

When you consider the pressures that public services face, most people think about the expectations of citizens using that infrastructure. However, this is just one of many influences that puts the public sector under strain.

Behind the scenes, public sector organizations are having to deal with a constant stream of legislative requirements, compliance check boxes and changing regulations. And it’s easy for these to dominate the agenda, getting in the way of providing essential services to those who need support.

It’s not that these issues aren’t important; many legal changes address continuously evolving threats, such as data security and fraud. However, the public sector needs to find a way to embrace change and update best practice without it interfering with day-to-day service provision. How do they achieve this?

Legal and reporting requirements are pressuring public services

An interesting example of the challenges posed by constantly changing legislation is the pensions industry.

A 2018 study by The Pensions Regulator on public sector governance found that 93 percent of schemes have procedures for identifying and reporting breaches in the law. While this sounds promising, the report also found that 70 percent of schemes felt legal complexities were their biggest barrier to improving governance, with 47 percent of staff lacking the time and resources to keep up with the compliance changes. Clearly there is room for improvement.

The story is the same within other public services, where the impact of failing to keep up with requirements is even more critical. For example, Deloitte research has found that less than half (48 percent) of Chief Financial Officers within public healthcare organizations can allocate resources based on historical experiences. And 30 percent lack information on their biggest organizational risks to make effective decisions – particularly in areas like cybersecurity, where threats are constantly evolving.

Finding smarter ways to address diverse demands

Most public sector organizations are struggling to optimize services because they can’t keep pace with internal and external influences. Those that can overcome such challenges are doing so through digital technologies.

Industry leaders are turning to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for smarter ways to meet the diverse data insight and reporting demands of internal compliance and regulatory agencies. They are investing in systems that can identify and track critical issues, such as data security and improper payments, and also enable them to learn lessons from these incidents to avoid similar future events.

One of the reasons that ERP technology is proving such a gamechanger for public sector regulation and reporting is that every stakeholder is accessing the same platform. This means everyone can access centralized data, creating a level of transparency and accountability not previously available.

Better reporting is just the beginning

More public sector organizations than ever are understanding the value of accurate data and operational flexibility, and they are therefore investing in the ERP solutions needed to provide this functionality.

The transformational impact this investment is having on legal compliance and reporting is significant, and the benefits don’t stop there. In addition to having more time to devote to essential services over admin tasks, public sector organizations now have greater data insight and process efficiency, through which they can serve citizens better. Through ERP technology, they can determine what current best practice looks like, and they have the central resource to put that best practice into full effect.