Planning for a change of plans - the need for flexibility in public sector service delivery
As recent events have shown, modern times require public sector organizations to be able to reprofile monthly budgets at a moment's notice in order to ensure resources can continue to reach frontline services - no matter how drastically circumstances change. This post explores some of the steps you can take to ensure that you have the agility to make changes as conditions dictate.
Preparing your organization to change course is never easy. Especially in the public sector, where budgets and plans are often approved years in advance. But in times of extreme volatility, being able to change priorities to meet changing circumstances is essential.
Achieving this kind of flexibility is now possible, thanks to advances in technology. But as with any big change, it’s never as simple as “plug and play.” Here’s a few of the considerations you’ll need to make as you prepare yourself for a new way of working.
Step 1 – Put people first
Regardless of the services you provide, there will always be two crucial elements to your offering.
- The people who provide, administer, and monitor those services.
- The service users themselves.
The way that you plan – and the tools you use to do it – must ultimately fit the needs of the people who use them. Your ability to plan is dependent on your ability to collate data, and individuals’ ability to submit data in a logical and streamlined way. If the platform isn’t fit for their needs – even if that just means the UX is unwieldy – then you’re likely to see time lost and inefficiencies created as people create their own work-arounds to an inflexible system.
Step 2 – Pick the right platform
It seems like a truism, but it’s important to get this right. The systems within which you create your plans and manage your resources – whether they’re financial, material, or your people – are the foundation on which your flexibility rests. And if they aren’t capable of adapting, they’ll make you less capable of adapting as well.
The right platform will grant you the ability to completely change your operating model if you ever need to. Without a painful reconfiguration or the need to start from square one of the implementation process. You’ll be able to build it to your own organizational needs – not the other way around.
And in line with Step 1, the right platform will support the needs, objectives, and day-to-day tasks of your people, rather than the other way around.
Step 3 – Make sure everyone’s on the same page
Regardless of flexibility, planning effectively means everyone needs to know what resources are available, what goals they’re aiming for, and what the overall strategy is. Knowing all of this depends heavily on the people making the plan being able to easily source all relevant information. And that means whatever technology you choose, it must be able to integrate all necessary data without having to rely on manual double entry or recoding.
(If you’re still working from Excel spreadsheets, your ability to update your plan or model a variety of scenarios will be vastly reduced.)
Step 4 – Make use of the tools available to you
Scenario planning has always existed – but it hasn’t always been a simple task. From pen and paper calculations to endlessly proliferating spreadsheets, monitoring and accounting for every possible variable was simply impractical.
But thanks to advances in data analytics – particularly in the form of AI and machine learning – it’s now possible to plan accurately across a huge variety of variables and contingencies. Some of our customers have reported that their forecasting, planning, and analysis has increased in accuracy by close to 100% following the introduction of our tools.
Set your organization – and your people – free
The ability to plan flexibly – in a way that enables your organization to deliver regardless of the circumstances and pressures that befall it – does more than boost your resilience. It creates an environment in which your people can do what they joined you to do – provide vital services. And in which they can do their job without having to worry about what’s around the corner – happy, engaged, and effective.
This helps support a better people experience for your organization – one in which your staff are enabled to provide help to the people with none of the hindrances.