Central government needs to be agile
There has been much discussion over the past few years regarding shared services with the aim of reducing costs and improving the quality of public services.
And, we have seen many successes so far across local government with considerable cash savings being made. Sadly though, this is a success which seems to be eludingcentral government.
Last month the National Audit Office criticised a number of central government shared services projects for not delivering sufficient value, believing that the true benefits from implementing shared services have not been realised. In its report it believes that theERP technology currently in place in central government isexpensive and not capable of handling the infrastructural changes and integration requirementsthat would enable significant cost efficiencies. I tend to agree.
The application of technology can help provide the answers to many local and central government challenges but it has to be technology which is agile enough to cope with constant change. In my opinion, large ERP systems are not always the answer and are overkill for central government project requirements.Central government is spending far too long trying to work around its technology; it needs systems which are flexible and agile enough to fit its needs. Making any sort of tweaks to large ERP systems requires significant, complex and expensive programming, massive upheaval each time a change needs to occur and is accompanied by continued expensive upgrades.
As we all know, it’s good to share not least because it also means that everybody has a ‘single version of the truth’ – in other words, data stays consistent and up to date because it’s under the control of a centralised system, ensuring that services are always accurately targeted and relevant.
I mentioned earlier that there are good shared services examples at a local level, and I just wanted to go back to this point because we should be proud of the way that local government is tackling the gauntlet that has been thrown down heads-on.
We have been helping local authorities and councils around the country to reduce costs and work smarter by sharing mapping resources and location-based asset information. For example, we have created a centralised asset management system for Aberdeenshire Council that has consolidated over 30 geographically dispersed maintenance locations and over 20 legacy computer systems, and is used by departments including highways, education, social services and housing. This has delivered dramatic cost savings, and by integrating it with the Council’s CRM system, enabled frontline call centre staff to respond to enquiries more efficiently, improving the Council’s accountability with its citizens.
This sharing of data doesn’t have to stop at the departmental level either, but can be extended out to the wider value chain of contractors and third party service providers – for example, utility companies, refuse management firms and housing associations are all closely involved in the day-to-day operations of local authorities.
We may be frustrated at the lack of results within central government to date but with the right investment this can be reversed, and in the meantime let’s celebrate the successes that have already taken place with considerable cash savings.
This article is from Pitney Bowes Software .
There are currently no comments, be the first!
|Back||Top of page|