Maintaining resilience in public sector services


By Kal Marshall, Regional Sales Director, Workday Australia & New Zealand
Tuesday, 25 January, 2022

Maintaining resilience in public sector services

The past 18 months have been truly unprecedented, and the demands placed on governments around the world have put public sector services under enormous pressure. Large-scale digital experiments were rolled out at pace, and on a massive scale, to combat the pandemic, from educating the public and screening patients to tracking and tracing contacts.

Locally, the Australian Government pulled all stops to respond to public needs, particularly in crisis response, health care, financial assistance, vulnerable community support, supply chain and travel.

Digital acceleration

There is no doubt that the pandemic accelerated the digitisation of the public sector and changed citizens’ expectations of government forever.

The importance of having flexible, modern technologies and tools for scenario planning and analysing large volumes of disparate data was brought into the spotlight. Those departments that adopted a more digital workplace became more agile, by using cloud-based finance, HR, and budgeting and planning systems. Those departments were also better able to adapt to evolving situations, while also ensuring seamless data security, privacy and auditability.

Shining examples

A few customer case studies should be singled out for the vision these agencies showed in adapting to this new way of operating. One such example is Public Trust in New Zealand. The organisation quickly realised the importance of dynamic forecasting and scenario planning during the pandemic. When New Zealand went into lockdown, the finance team needed to show the impact of COVID-19 on revenue, profit, cash flow and liquidity. Its current systems didn’t allow for the dynamic forecasting and scenario planning needed, and it turned to Workday Adaptive Planning to find a way forward.

Greg Garland, the Planning and Performance Manager at Public Trust, summed up the importance of replacing legacy systems: “While the future remains unpredictable and we don’t have crystal balls, dynamic planning gives us the ability to be prepared and to ensure we are in a strong position to continue to deliver on our long-term strategic objectives.”

Another example is the UK’s Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), a body set up by the UK Parliament to resolve complaints between financial businesses and their customers.

FOS implemented Workday Financial Management and Workday Human Capital Management software as part of a digital transformation that has seen it retire legacy HR and finance systems and become a more efficient and cost-effective organisation.

Nicola Wadham, CIO at the FOS: “We’re putting power in the hands of our employees while also liberating data across our organisation. With Workday, we will become a data-driven organisation with the confidence to make important business decisions quickly based on the information and insights in front of us.”

Legacy systems not built for agility

As a result of so much rapid change, the demands of the modern citizen have evolved as have the demands they place on the public servants they work with. Many of the public sector’s legacy ERP systems are not built for the new agile normal, and they lack many features such as configurable business process flows, always-on auditing and built-in security. With a very high focus on delivering a spectrum of citizen services while ensuring data security and privacy, public sector organisations cannot afford the risks or lack of agility that dated systems bring.

Smartphones and modern e-commerce platforms are also good examples of new technologies and consumer-centric platforms that have created an expectation of seamless experiences across every technology touchpoint, and this expectation now extends to citizen services as well as the tools available to the public servants who deliver the services.

Public sector bodies must adapt to these new expectations in customer experience and ensure citizen customer journeys deliver a secure, robust and human-centric experience. And having such a robust, human-centric and secure experience is possible only really through the adoption of cloud technologies.

However, not all cloud technologies are the same. There are significant differences between actual built-for-the-cloud systems and existing systems simply migrated to a hosted data centre. For the public sector, it is critical to properly consider the differences and understand the potential risks of migrating existing out-of-date ERP systems to a hosted data centre. Without adopting a truly modern enterprise management cloud the public bodies truly risk not being able to enable their workforce to deliver the citizen services that lie at the heart of their core mission.

An enterprise management cloud delivered through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is a more scalable, cost-effective solution that allows for transparency, accountability and agility. Workday and its partners can help to work through the process and implement a comprehensive change and rollout program, to ensure the transition from ‘old world’ to ‘new world’ is as smooth as possible.

The Australian public sector has demonstrated amazing agility and resilience throughout the pandemic using, in many instances, old-school tools. As we look forward to the next normal it is an important time to reflect on the effort it took and toll it has taken. Re-equipping with a modern enterprise management toolset for navigating through the next normal is an essential component of maintaining resilience in the days and months ahead.

Image credit: ©

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