The true cost of COVID on public services
true cost of covid

The true cost of COVID on public services

The COVID crisis has touched every part of the public sector. Increasing the burdens of cost and uncertainty imposed by traditional ways of working, regulations, and approvals systems. And most of this cost has actually been borne by the very people the public sector is counting on to create and sustain employment and revitalize the economy at the local level – the citizens the public sector is intended to serve.

In this environment, public sector organizations must work hard to develop new approaches to the way they work. Creating better experiences and working environments for their own people – many of whom may be working remotely for the foreseeable future. But also creating better experiences and service delivery channels for ordinary citizens. Giving them access to the kind of responsive digital and analogue service experiences that have become ubiquitous in the private sector over the past few years.

Unfortunately, this means that the cost of COVID is likely to stay with us much longer than the pandemic itself. Government trends and targets which existed prior to 2020 have been accelerated, making digitization less of a long-term project and more a necessity for survival. Let’s take a look at some of the changes, the stresses they’re placing on organizations, and the path ahead.

Confronting change

The sudden shift to remote working has forced many public sector organizations to completely rethink the way that they deliver – and even conceptualize – multiple key services. Every part the sector’s remit has been affected – from community support to emergency services and the way we all live our domestic and business lives.

As these economic, fiscal, and social developments continue – whether caused or exacerbated by COVID or for independent reasons – one thing is clear. Public administration faces a whole range of new financial challenges.

The public sector’s new financial challenges

Organizations are now under tremendous pressure to increase productivity and reduce costs – even as labor costs grow and administrative complexity increases.

They must also respond to the land-use and tax impacts of fundamental changes to the way people use retail space, office buildings, and parking. With many companies closing stores and moving online, businesses rethinking their corporate real estate strategy, and fewer people using car parks, receipts are down and will likely stay down for the considerable future – placing huge pressure on funding across the entire sector.

Demand for services across social housing, youth support, and care for the elderly and infirm are all steadily increasing in line with expected population changes and ageing. New pressures on the economy and rapid shifts occurring in the employment market are only exacerbating the pressure. There’s more need than ever to find new models for these services – and all while still meeting demands to reduce costs.

The need for police reform in response to rising calls-for-service at incidents and greater collaboration due to the complexity of crime, represents yet another area where public sector organizations will be expected to achieve more with less – as are community development and business support programs, which will also be increasingly in demand as the economy continues to adjust to the impacts of the pandemic.

Using technology to bridge the gap between public expectations and economic reality 

At Unit4, we’ve developed our next generation of people-focused enterprise tech solutions to help the public sector face the seeming paradox of responding to huge increases in demand for services – and huge increases in the expectation of those services – with ever-dwindling funds.

ERPx – our fully cloud native next-gen ERP system – is built to radically simplify your back-office systems. Creating a single working environment and source of truth for the entire organization that allows you to integrate multiple services and tools into one powerful system – that still retains a lightweight and intuitive user experience for your end users.

Its AI and machine learning capabilities provide a foundation for the intelligent automation of many of your day-to-day workflows. Removing the burden of admin from your staff and freeing them up to pursue higher standards of citizen services. Saving the entire organization time and money which can be refocused into more productive areas. AI powered data analytics also helps to synthesise insights in real time to match resources to needs and create realistic and actionable forecasts for finances, HR, and service demand.

“Armed with this rich, evidence-based insight, we can connect our workforce to demand and achieve better outcomes for citizens across southern Wales.”

Umar Hussain MBE Chief Finance

Because we understand that your organization faces tremendous pressures to transform to deal with the rigours of modern service delivery, we’ve built ERPx to be a fully modular system. There is no “standard deployment” of ERPx – it can be implemented with as many or as few features as your transformation strategy requires, and scaled up or down in order to fit your needs.

And because we understand the specific challenges and needs of the public sector, our specially developed Industry Model for implementation has been created to streamline the onboarding process. Ensuring you have your system up and running faster to achieve time to value more quickly and start seeing the benefits at every level.

Discover why we’ve built ERPx the way we have – and more about the specific challenges that it helps to address. Read this insight into the process of digitalization in the public sector and how our modern, modular cloud ERP system helps organizations to create better citizen services while reducing costs and administrative complexity.