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ERP systems: How to empower employees in the public sector

For public service organisations to better serve citizens they need an empowered workforce; achieving this means taking a digital-first approach to operations with ERP systems at the heart, writes Unit4’s Head of Public Sector, Mark Gibbison.

Public service organisations are under constant pressure to do more with less. But many of their employees feel that they are so overloaded with admin that they can't make a valuable contribution.

It's a story we've heard before across all types of people-centric organisations. As much as a third of all working time every year is wasted – lost to the vagaries of administration, "manual labour" (in the form of simple but repetitive, rote tasks that distract from value-added work), or work that's either reduplicated or carried out in error.

To overcome this challenge, leading institutions are turning to technology as an engine for employee empowerment. Whether through more advanced efforts like workflow automation for manual tasks, or simply through the application of modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to streamline operations, and empower colleagues to do more value-added work, boosting their morale and delivering a higher quality of service.

Focusing on higher-value tasks

At a basic level, moving to ERP systems automates many of the daily processes that staff are struggling with, either by radically simplifying how they are executed, or partially or wholly automating them. Moving work online cuts down on paperwork, streamlines activities and creates a central operational portal that everyone can work from.

This eliminates a great deal of data entry and re-entry, tracking down information across various systems, the inevitable misrepresentation of information that occurs in siloed systems. A modern ERP system removes the majority of this strain, taking care of the repetitive and low-value work of admin, and empowering employees to focus their energy on higher-value work, innovation, and fulfilling missions – their own and the organisations'.

More importantly, however, this shift to digital technology creates the infrastructure that teams need to increase productivity and creativity within a self-motivated working model. Eliminating 'information siloes' across the organisation by bringing all teams and their data together in a single platform that creates a more cohesive picture of how everyone is working to meet the needs of the mission – and empowering employees not just to do their job more effectively, but to help their colleagues do theirs more effectively too.

With all the data insights and task management support they require at the tip of their fingers; public services employees can explore new ways to approach strategic or customer-facing tasks. Independently, they can develop best practice that enables faster processes within their remit, with improved outcomes.

Reporting on success

In addition to working smarter, leading ERP platforms to include in-built reporting tools, so colleagues can demonstrate tangible changes being made by their new strategic focus: boosting their morale while encouraging the whole company to strive for excellence.

This ‘can-do’ approach filters through to all levels of seniority. Every person can access and utilise digital systems in a way that’s appropriate for their role. It also plays a critical role in establishing greater public trust. With the ability to report on any facet of the organisation's performance, operations, or service delivery and impact at the touch of a button, full transparency becomes possible. Empowering employees to serve the public's interests and needs further.

With the right ERP platform in place, management personnel, in particular, have greater autonomy in their decision-making with enhanced infrastructure support. This enables them to take more responsibility for financial activity and report directly on how their decisions relate to budget, spend, and ROI. Giving them a greater degree of control over how the organisation operates and how essential services are prioritised and delivered.

Better citizen services

The benefits of employee empowerment don't stop in the back office. They extend squarely into service delivery itself. A digital-first approach provides employees with a solid platform from which to ‘level up’ and work to the best of their capabilities.

In today's pressurised climate, rather than demanding cost savings and operational improvements from the top-down, staff can use ERP tools to deliver individual and departmental objectives in the quickest, most cost-effective manner possible, and with the best possible outcome. Quickly determining resource availability, redirecting enquiries and requests for service through the appropriate channels, and keeping workflows running smoothly – without any bottlenecks to delivery.

The benefits to service delivery don’t end with improved operational efficiency and control. Ultimately, empowering employees increases staff satisfaction, which is what keeps people committed to their job – and doing their job well (in fact, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that employee engagement is among the biggest predictors for overall organisational performance.) Empowered people fuel well-run organisations — and in the difficult public services climate, the ability to attract and retain talented staff should never be underestimated. Small increases in engagement – whatever their source – can see staff turnover fall dramatically. Contributing to your operational continuity, service quality, and the achievement of your mission.

The result of all this is that higher quality services are delivered with lower budgets, and everyone involved in the effort is happier with both the total result and their own contributions to it — from back-office staff to front line workers and the people and communities that they serve.

Benefits of employee empowerment – how Unit4 can help

Unit4 specialises in creating technology that helps human-focused organisations operate more efficiently and unlock the skills and potential of their people.

To begin your journey to empowering your employees to deliver better citizen services, click below to 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.

And to start a conversation about how we can help you to give your people the ability to fulfil their purpose to the fullest – while helping to fulfil your organisation's mission – click to book a demo.

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