Processes are the specific activities that enable government entities to fulfill their mission. A well-defined ERP project provides most significant returns on investment from opportunities to simplify and improve processes. Streamlined processes drive out waste and create efficiencies. This facilitates leaner and more cost effective government operations. The result is an organization that operates more cohesively, where decision-making is improved. All agencies access common data providing a single source of truth and enhanced transparency.
Early and careful review of the current state processes is vital, the AS-IS models. At the heart of most processes is the flow of information and approval/disapproval authorities. However, in many public sector entities, information resides in discrete silos, a practice that produces massive duplication and waste. Harnessing the full value of an ERP system requires improving the flow of information. How is data collected, presented, and stored? Who maintains the data and its security? Who transforms the data into information used to make decisions and conform to policy?
These questions demand establishment of an information governance model early in the implementation process. This model must consider practical and logistical issues relative to data collection, maintenance, storage, and security. Considerations include the need to provide the right information to the right person at the right time. It also must address legitimate concerns about maintaining privacy of the constituency. Thismodel should provide guiding principles for subsequent decisions about processes and technology. Once the client and the implementer have mapped how information should move through the organization, configuration of the ERP system can make it happen.
Public sector organizations often have more rules, regulations, and procedures in place than similar-sized operations in the private sector. In fact, the public sector uses extensive control processes, approvals by committee, and overlapping lines of authority to manage operations and maintain control. Often the complexity of these factors fails to exceed the ingenuity with which state and local employees circumvent them. Controlling processes through inspection, signatures, and reviews ultimately does not work.
Before any organization implements business process improvements, it is vital for them to assess the ability of the organization and its departments to implement and manage change successfully. Change can be difficult to manage, since it often provokes fear and resistance. Using tools that assess readiness for change, an organization can discover helpful insights into the individual employee’s ability and the entire organization’s capacity to cope with process transformation. (More to come on this topic in future blogs)
People who have been successful using legacy processes and following old rules may panic from redesign for greater efficiency or transparency. Change can be a threat even to senior managers. A new process that makes one agency or department more efficient might undercut the core mission of another. For example, the processing of cash receipts is likely to change substantially with an ERP system. The way it changes is a matter of choice, however, and there are many choices, e.g.:
Business needs dictate the “best” process. Understanding which is best before the implementation will require input from many across the organization. This is the only way to optimize the future state business processes, the TO-BE Models.
For more information on this and related topics, please see “Are you ready for ERP?” at: http://www.ciber.com/erp/lawson/