How technology can help public sector organisations navigate austerity
By Satpal Biant, Head of Public Sector, SAP UK&I
In recent months, an escalating cost of living crisis, the ‘Great Resignation’ and funding cuts have placed an enormous amount of pressure on public sector organisations and the services they provide. With the government set to announce further reductions to public spending across the UK in the coming months, organisations will need to find new ways of managing an increased demand for its services against a backdrop of rising austerity measures and a fast-changing socio-economic landscape.
While austerity will continue to exacerbate the strain on public sector services, it also presents a unique opportunity to accelerate the deployment of technology in the public sector. In fact, cost and budget pressures have been identified as the two key drivers of digital transformation across public services, with organisations across the world already using technology to improve the quality of the services they provide.
By improving service efficiency, reducing costs and offering data-driven insights, technology can help public sector organisations in the UK navigate increasing austerity measures over the coming months, while also ensuring organisations deliver efficient, cost-effective services to citizens.
Improving service efficiency
Public sector organisations in the UK continue to face unprecedented demand for their services, with rising levels of inflation and an ongoing cost of living crisis meaning an increasing number of people are reliant on service provision. However, with austerity measures set to place further strain on service provision, organisations will increasingly have to find new ways of serving citizens with fewer resources and reduced capacity. So, how can this be achieved?
By streamlining business processes, automating workflows and improving the speed of decision-making, technology could help public sector organisations improve the efficiency of the services they provide. A good example of this is Transport for London (TfL), an organisation responsible for the majority of the transport networks across the capital. By deploying HR technology across the network over a 13 week period, the organisation has been able to fully automate its performance and career management processes. This has significantly reduced the time taken to complete manual, repetitive tasks, enabling the organisation to provide an efficient service to citizens while also reducing operational costs.
This has also led to strong employee satisfaction, with 77% of users reporting that the new platform was intuitive and helpful. This, in turn, has reduced the cost of employee turnover, enabling the organisation to provide a cost-effective and employee-centric service. By following a similar example, organisations can increase the efficiency of the services they provide, while also tailoring services to the needs and expectations of both citizens and employees.
Tracking and managing finances
With public sector organisations set to face further cuts to government spending, managing finances will play a vital role in navigating ongoing austerity measures for public sector.
By offering critical insight into financial processes, technology can allow organisations to organise, track and manage their spending. One organisation that has achieved this is the Turkish Red Crescent, which needed to optimise its revenue and donations when administering disaster relief operations to countries worldwide. By integrating its accounting and banking processes into one platform, it was able to gain end-to-end insight into financial planning, consolation and banking transactions. This enabled the organisation to efficiently track and manage its subsidiaries, donors and income from other activities, improving its ability to administer and schedule national and international aid programmes.
Streamlining finance processes with technology can allow UK public sector organisations to gain critical insight into their financial operations, as well as improve their ability to manage and forecast spending. This is essential when having to navigate austerity as organisations will be able to reliably manage their finances, and increase the cost-effectiveness of the services they provide.
Enabling data-driven insights
Citizens today have high expectations of public services. So putting citizens at the heart of every service provided is a must for successful public sector organisations.
By improving their ability to collect and utilise data, technology can allow organisations to gain critical insight into the issues affecting citizens, organisations and stakeholders, thus enabling them to improve the quality of the services they provide. For example, the Province of Noord-Brabant, an administrative local government body in the Netherlands, was able to unify dispersed citizen data into one platform by deploying cloud technology. This made the availability of information 40% faster for employees and partners across the value chain, significantly reducing the amount of time taken for data gathering and reporting.
For TfL, automating performance and career management processes has also given the organisation full access to on-demand data, significantly increasing the speed of reporting to the organisation’s commissioner. This shows how adopting technology to make better use of data can allow public sector organisations to tailor their services to the specific needs and demands of citizens, while also allowing for faster, more accurate decision-making. This will help organisations to better-serve citizens, stakeholders and employees, while also increasing the efficiency of the services they provide.
Against a backdrop of rising austerity measures, an escalating cost of living crisis and rapid socio-economic change, public sector organisations will be now expected to manage unprecedented demand for their services with fewer resources and capacity. By deploying technology, public sector organisations could reduce operational costs, increase service efficiency and track and manage their finances – all while ensuring citizens remain at the very heart of service delivery.
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