How shared services solves IT challenges
By Kevin Curry
Integrating services and sharing resources is one way that governments can combat the challenge of shallow pockets and out-of-date IT systems. To ensure success, many factors must be considered, including sufficiently understanding the needs of the organization, outsourced partners and system functionalities. Adopting shared services models also may help consolidate technology to reduce operating cost and reduce budgetary stress. By following some simple steps, government organizations will be well on their way to reaping the benefits of those models.
Connect the dots between like functions. Consider the importance of grouping like functions in address the specific challenges that face each department. Rather than relying on multiple systems to manage day-to-day activities, organizations can standardize processes to reduce back office costs and promote improved service through collaboration. Decision makers should possess a clear understanding of each entity’s business requirements to group resources based on common processes and the required level of service. For example, combining ERP functions like, payroll and financials is beneficial because they follow a set of similar processes with analogous goals that are all internally focused.
Establish a governance model early. Address challenges up front when implementing a flexible shared services model. That will reduce discrepancies and ensure that no requirements are overlooked. For organizations that follow different budget allocation models or have concerns about data security, establish a management process to manage changes. By developing a governance model during the planning stages, stakeholders from each organization can clearly define lines of accountability. By assigning key performance targets, managers can easily assess key performance indicators for costs, user satisfaction and operations. Government agencies can manage all departments and ensure that each is working toward common goals that are based on the shared services model.
Consider the needs of internal and external stakeholders. Many governing bodies rely on their own in-sourced shared service centers and still engage private third-party organizations for assistance. When this occurs, meeting the requirements of external stakeholders must also be considered to effectively increase operational efficiency. The introduction of cloud technology has made shared services significantly easier for both government and private organizations. Data from multiple applications can be consolidated and accessed from almost any location via the cloud. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has become more prominent meaning that public agencies no longer have to host, support or upgrade their systems. They instead are able to rely on the cloud provider to manage the larger technology concerns.
Determine critical technology platform functionality per these needs. The needs of both internal and external stakeholders are significant, but the technical functionality is critical to the effectiveness of shared resources. When evaluating technology for shared services, governments should consider their options including:
- A Single Portal vs. a public portal with a self-service option – Using a single, unified portal for all requests enables consolidated tracking and updates, making it easier for employees in different organizations to use the same tools. With a public portal, residents can log their own requests, saving time and enabling government employees to focus on more important tasks.
- Workflow Automation — Automating workflow and processes helps reduce manual entry and streamline approvals, saving public entities save time and money by eliminating redundancies.
- Business Intelligence — Statistical reports and dashboards generated by business intelligence enable comparison to KPIs and Key Performance Targets established during the planning process, providing clear numbers for reporting and identification of potential savings areas.
- Mobility — If an agency has numerous users in the field, integration for mobile devices will provide visibility into real-time data at any time from any location, enabling employees to view and update tasks while away from the office.
As operations are standardized via shared services, day-to-day tasks can be completed more efficiently, which in turn promotes greater service to constituents without the need to increase spending or completely overhaul IT systems. Centralizing technology promotes enhanced productivity and collaboration, and simplifies IT management without compromising the services on which the public relies.
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Kevin Curry is responsible for all application sales globally for Infor's Public Sector and Healthcare, which includes federal, state and local governments.