How can public sector organizations deliver the improvements that citizens demand?
We might have spent years living in a climate of austerity, but citizens are tired of this being an excuse for public sector stagnation. They crave an improvement in the quality of services available to them, and it’s up to public sector bodies to deliver enhancements. Unit4’s head of public sector, Mark Gibbison, looks at potential solutions.
Public services spending has had its wings clipped for several years now, and the impact is starting to show. According to Deloitte, 85 percent of front-line staff in public sector bodies think austerity has affected the quality and scope of services they are able to deliver. And 60 per cent want more extensive public services.
On the surface, this might seem like an impossible challenge, but the key to change is enabling smarter decisions on how existing budgets are allocated. To do this, public sector organizations need the right analytical tools for the job.
Putting the emphasis on technology innovation
One key challenge facing the public sector today is a lack of understanding over how effectively budget is being spent across their organization. Are resources being focused in the right place?
The most powerful thing institutions can do to address this issue is to invest in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, to gain a holistic view of all activities, and identify where performance can be improved.
There is an urgent need for technology innovation in the public sector; Deloitte’s survey found that while two thirds of front-line staff claim to have the tools they need to do their job, they frequently suffer the consequences of slow, out-of-date hardware and crashing computers. In fact, two thirds use their personal devices for work, because they are better than the equipment provided to them. And that’s not even considering the software (or lack thereof) being used on these legacy devices to track progress.
A much greater emphasis needs to be placed on technology innovation. It may involve some up-front investment, but the benefits of being able to drill down to how public resources are being used and see where tangible improvements can be made ensure this investment is returned very quickly.
Additionally, implementing ERP software will enable teams and departments to collaborate easily, sharing knowledge and reporting on best practice – encouraging a culture of excellence across the organization.
Creating a transparent relationship with citizens
Another important element that needs to be considered is the impact of technology on citizen communications.
The Deloitte report revealed that 60 percent of people want more control over local services. But this doesn’t mean they want to be actively involved; a third want public sector professionals to be able to get on with the job at hand, and a further third just want to know more about the way organisations work.
ERP software gives public sector bodies the power to report on deliverables externally as well as internally, to increase transparency and trust among the users of its services. If citizens can clearly see how technology is being used to improve public service spending, they are likely to support any investment that has been made in acquiring that technology.
And this same tech infrastructure can be used to innovate the day-to-day citizen user experience – from personalising services to improving the way identities are verified, payments are collected, and notifications are made.
Making the greatest difference to public wellbeing
Leading public service organisations are committed to increasing the quality and range of services available to their citizens, accepting that a new way of working is needed to deliver this standard of performance.
They are using ERP technology to change the way they operate, internally and externally, streamlining information-sharing and enabling cross-organization collaboration for better, more coordinated services delivery. This approach is ensuring that efforts are focused where the greatest difference can be made to public wellbeing and support.
To innovate your core services through technology, download the industry brochure: A HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC SERVICES — why the public services industry has a golden opportunity and how the leaders are taking advantage of it.