How local government can move to a cloud first, mobile first world

Untangling applications and moving to a cloud first, mobile first and services centric approach is the biggest barrier to providing citizens and staff with a better experience, argues Roger Phare, United Kingdom Operating Officer at leading enterprise software company TechnologyOne.

According to the July 2015 report from the Department for Communities and Local Government: Local Authority Revenue Expenditure and Financing: 2015-16 Budget, England, local government expenditure will be down £3.3 billion in the next 12 months. Cuts will affect services, suppliers and most importantly, citizens and staff.

Technology challenges facing local government
When I see these figures like these, it is clear that technology and automation are key if the austerity numbers are to be realised. There are three complex technology flashpoints.

Firstly, the applications required to manage the expenditure are likely to be different in each local government team, making consolidated reporting or analysis of any kind a Herculean task.

Applications that have advanced functionality are also unable to be used to their full capacity because they are dragged down by legacy systems in use that cannot support the same technology.

Secondly, it can be difficult to get consolidated data for analysis from the spaghetti mix of software and manual processes used to manage the expenditure areas.  
In general, the stakeholders involved in the day-to-day management and operations within councils are starved of relevant, accurate and timely information. The information they get is collated and assessed by teams of administrative staff. Our research indicates that on a Full Time Equivalent (FTE) basis, back office administrative staff spend between 25 – 40% of their time extracting and manipulating data via spreadsheets. Currently, the only way to improve the accuracy and timeliness of information provided is to employ more staff; but is not a sustainable long term strategy, nor is it good use of public funds.

Lastly, there’s the major system requirements to support the resource planning needed to manage citizen and business-facing applications behind initiatives such as Council Tax, planning, licensing and environmental management.

No local government authority has just one IT services provider, or even one vendor for its critical business processes. Our research shows that an average local government manages up to 150 vendor relationships to meet its responsibilities. This will continue to grow as the mandate to use SMB and local suppliers is increased.

The only viable answer is to implement systems that enable automation and integration; thereby reducing administrative burden and cost overheads.

Complications moving disparate systems to a cloud first, mobile first world
Integration across different cloud platforms and on premise solutions is even more complex. Each system is built on a different technology stack, making integration a major obstacle to successfully adopting and deploying Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions across the business.

With each separate application, enterprise data becomes further segregated into cloud silos, making it difficult to enjoy the benefits of cloud computing, such as simplicity, flexibility and scalability. Only through an enterprise solution can organisations really embrace the future of the cloud, smart mobile devices and get the efficiencies they need across their complete organisation.

The future-proof way forward
The way forward definitely lies in moving to an enterprise approach, to deliver streamlined integration of multiple software applications. This puts the focus back on what needs to be delivered and to whom, beginning with the ideal user experience in mind and removing complexities of disparate systems. What is needed is a single platform that caters for the needs of multiple stakeholders; including citizens, suppliers, business and staff.

TechnologyOne’s view is that with the right Enterprise SaaS solution, councils can drastically simplify the IT environment and facilitate adoption of new technology, use of mobile devices and focus on their core business of providing services to citizens. Financials, Property, Assets, HR and Payroll systems can be streamlined and secured. Diminishing budgets and the constant need for transparency within local government, means that clarity of reporting is hugely important. To achieve this, systems must work together harmoniously and reliably. Enterprise Software as a Service delivers on this promise.

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About TechnologyOne

TechnologyOne (ASX:TNE) is Australia's largest enterprise software company and one of Australia's top 200 ASX-listed companies, with offices across six countries. We create solutions that transform business and make life simple for our customers. We do this by providing powerful, deeply integrated enterprise software that is incredibly easy to use. Over 1,000 leading corporations, government departments and statutory authorities are powered by our software.

We participate in only eight key markets: government, local government, financial services, education, health and community services, asset intensive, project intensive and corporate. For these markets we develop, market, sell, implement, support and run our preconfigured solutions, which reduce time, cost and risk for our customers.

For 28 years, we have been providing our customers enterprise software that evolves and adapts to new and emerging technologies, allowing them to focus on their business and not technology. Today, our software is available on the TechnologyOne Cloud and across smart mobile devices. For further information please visit: