Opinion: Is There A 'Future Proof' Way Forward?

Oct 30, 2015
Roger Phare, Operating Officer at enterprise software firm TechnologyOne shares some advice about coping with cutbacks

Local government expenditure will be down £3.3bn in the next 12 months, according to a July 2015 report from the Department for Communities and Local Government. These austerity cuts will affect services, suppliers and most importantly, citizens and staff. It is clear that technology is key, if the numbers are to be realised.

Here’s some of the issues I see with the current technology setup in local governments that may hold progress back. Firstly, the applications required to manage the expenditure are likely to be different in each local government team, limiting applications that have advanced functionality. These are unable to be used to their full capacity because they are dragged down by legacy systems in use that cannot support the same technology.

Secondly, it can be difficult to get consolidated reporting and data for analysis from the spaghetti mix of software and manual processes used to manage the expenditure areas. In general, the stakeholders involved in the day-to-day management and operations within councils are starved of relevant, accurate and timely information. The information they get is collated and assessed by teams of administrative staff.

Our research indicates that on a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) basis, back office administrative staff spend between 25 – 40% of their time extracting and manipulating data via spreadsheets. Currently, the only way to improve the accuracy and timeliness of information provided is to employ more staff; but is not a sustainable long term strategy, nor is it good use of public funds.

Lastly, there’s the major system requirements to support the resource planning needed to manage citizen and business-facing applications behind initiatives such as Council Tax, planning, licensing and environmental management.

No local government authority has just one IT services provider, or even one vendor for its critical business processes. Our research shows that an average local government manages up to 150 vendor relationships to meet its responsibilities. This will continue to grow as the mandate to use SMB and local suppliers is increased.

Integration across different cloud platforms and on premise solutions is even more complex. Each system is built on a different technology stack, making integration a major obstacle to successfully adopting and deploying Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions across the business.

With each separate application, enterprise data becomes further segregated into cloud silos, making it difficult to enjoy the benefits of cloud computing, such as simplicity, flexibility and scalability.

The only viable answer is to implement systems that enable automation and integration; thereby reducing administrative burden and cost overheads. Only through an enterprise solution can organisations really embrace the future of the cloud, smart mobile devices and get the efficiencies they need across their complete organisation.

Multiple Stakeholders

The way forward definitely lies in moving to an enterprise approach, to deliver streamlined integration of multiple software applications. This puts the focus back on what needs to be delivered and to whom, beginning with the ideal user experience in mind and removing complexities of disparate systems. What is needed is a single platform that caters for the needs of multiple stakeholders; including citizens, suppliers, business and staff.

My view is that with the right Enterprise SaaS solution, councils can drastically simplify the IT environment and facilitate adoption of new technology, use of mobile devices and focus on their core business of providing services to citizens. Financials, Property, Assets, HR and Payroll systems can be streamlined and secured.

Diminishing budgets and the constant need for transparency within local government, means that clarity of reporting is hugely important. To achieve this, systems must work together harmoniously and reliably - and only enterprise SaaS delivers on this promise.

(c) 2015 24n.biz 
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