How can agile technology help governments evolve?

| Kirsten Edmondson Wolfe, Global Industry Director for Public Sector for Microsoft Business Solutions

Many public sector organizations around the world face significant challenges that are often caused by two major factors: increased cost pressures and citizen demands for an “always-on,” connected government. They’re doing the same amount of work with less money, and the citizenry has become much more engaged in governments’ actions in recent years. Technology offers enormous potential for organizations that want to be responsive to citizen demands, while at the same time, staying fiscally accountable and meeting regulatory and compliance requirements. Today I’d like to look at how Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, in particular, can help governments keep up in today’s world and evolve to meet future needs.

As a result of the consumerization of IT, citizens expect their government organizations to be “on” – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and to handle issues quickly and efficiently. With the proliferation of mobile devices and social networks, we’re used to having the information we want in our hands, from any location, at any time. Most public sector organizations look to social media and traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions to provide the interaction with citizens, but without the financial management and resource planning tools connected behind the public interface, response times are slower and efficiency is lost. ERP systems are a great tool to meet these needs and help by providing insight into the many facets of an organization – from finance to HR.

Looking ahead to evolving trends such as “big data” analytics, however, the technology still has room to grow. When ERP systems were first introduced to the market, they were structured solutions that were built by finance people and for finance people. Since today’s paradigm has shifted to become much more agile, ERP systems also need to be flexible and dynamic to provide real-time visibility into important questions. For instance, connecting data from a business intelligence (BI) solution to an ERP system can help government organizations more quickly solve problems, respond to citizens, and allocate resources appropriately. While we’ve been through the first phase of making data available (through open government initiatives), and the second phase of analyzing the data (by adding BI tools), we’re embarking on a third phase of taking action and engaging with citizens (based on insights from analytics, social media, online tools, and CRM systems).

Technology is evolving to empower government employees and to help governments become even more responsive to constituents, because ultimately, it’s all about the people. Nowhere is this more evident than in natural disasters. Imagine when a large storm such as Katrina or Sandy hits a heavily- populated area and disrupts life and business. Government employees are deployed to the field with a tablet and an app that can import Excel spreadsheets and connect to the agency’s ERP system. Based on real-time data flowing in from various sources, the employees can see that they have funding available to spend on needed supplies for those affected and can ensure those supplies are available when citizens in need arrive at the distribution point. Or grant funds can be made available within hours instead of days, with applications being processed onsite, in minutes. Without an agile, flexible ERP system connected to the agency’s various departments, this information would not have been available, and workers would not have been able to do their jobs as effectively or efficiently.

If you’d like to learn more about how a dynamic ERP system can help your organization become more effective, I invite you to check out the whitepaper “Next -Generation ERP for Government.”

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Kirsten Edmondson Wolfe
Global Industry Director for Public Sector for Microsoft Business Solutions

About the Author

Kirsten Edmondson Wolfe | Global Industry Director for Public Sector for Microsoft Business Solutions

In her current role, Kirsten helps government organizations of all levels develop out-of-the-box solutions to address their unique challenges. Kirsten was formerly a marketing VP in Deltek’s GovCon unit and global VP for public sector at CA Technologies. Read more