Setting the foundation for shared service success

Why adopting an enterprise vision is key to long-term benefit

Local government transformation is primarily driven by the need to find efficiencies and ultimately improve organisational resilience in a difficult economic climate.

But, it’s also about providing front-line services fit for the world we live in now and putting in place the relevant infrastructure that enables this.

The natural result of a merger or new shared service agreement is a lot of duplication of systems, processes and data. For local government organisations wishing to make the most of shared services, this is an opportunity to review existing systems and consider how technology can enable better ways of working and deliver better services to the community. So, what are the options?

Is best of breed really best?

Best-of-breed solutions originated over 30 years ago, when piecing together a multitude of point systems and standalone products was the only way to quickly adopt the latest technology, purpose-built for specific business functions. While this scenario has served the needs of councils and the wider community in the past, the reality is it’s a false economy.

Running an assortment of standalone applications brings immediate challenges. It often means working with several vendors and, as each application incorporates its own technology and database, and requires specific skill sets (either deployed in-house or outsourced) to implement system modifications or improvements. Councils also need those systems to talk to one another, most commonly achieved by creating an elaborate integration layer, usually with significant cost overhead.

Even when councils decide to wear the additional costs, they lose their true ‘enterprise’ perspective, find it difficult to gain a single view of council-wide data and the user experience is compromised from different systems invariably having different interfaces.

Shared services built on a true enterprise solution

If you think back to the main driver for shared services – the need to integrate inter-council systems and processes to achieve economies of scale – it’s easy to conclude that an integrated enterprise solution is beneficial.

Modern local government cannot function in silos, nor can its data. The rising expectation for digital engagement means council staff expect to be able to access all council systems online, via a single modern platform.

A deeply integrated, enterprise-wide view of council information is the only way to achieve this. That’s why more local government organisations are embracing cloud-based enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions to streamline business operations and improve integration across the entire council.

One of the key advantages of an enterprise SaaS offering is that it offers councils a single source of truth and the system is accessible anywhere, at any time, on any device. This makes shared service adoption a whole lot easier, as it means council staff can access information on the go, via a native web browser on a smart mobile phone or tablet.

Users can log on to the full enterprise solution, not a cut-down version or a standalone mobile app, so the data they see is current, accurate and complete. And access extends beyond council staff, allowing ratepayers and residents to easily interact and access information, providing a portal on which to build solid community engagement.

Choosing the best option for your needs

As councils move to a shared services model and IT provision is reviewed, the best of breed versus integrated enterprise solution debate will continue in earnest. While best of breed might have been the best in the past, the fact is that the complexity and cost drawbacks have made it redundant today. The evolution of enterprise software and its ability to deliver a single, integrated solution is enabling local government to embrace a simplified approach. This provides a solid foundation for local government to adopt shared services and truly transform service delivery across councils.

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