Running local government can be a challenge. Unlike a private enterprise, local governments and municipalities deliver numerous services to the public that are vital. Even small towns can run multiple functions ranging from waste management to managing education establishments. It is crucial that they have the right systems and processes in place as their customers' expectations and needs can vary from ad hoc to life-dependent.
If we think of all the things municipalities and local governments manage, as well as how they need to function, there are many systems in place for critical operations. These systems exist for:
Finance delivering accounts payable and accounts receivable
Workforce management to manage the crews to repair property and roads
Asset management to assure functioning assets from street lights through to public swimming pools
Fund management and grants to assess applications for money from a large variety of concerns from local community groups to historic and listed buildings
Supplier management to run public procurement exercises and manage suppliers to the public
More recently, command and control rooms to aid in pandemic regulations and sanitisation
These organizations have amassed a large number of IT systems over the years, which have developed issues of complexity and interoperability of the solutions. As a result, the public was pushed to pay for replacements or upgrades on projects. In some local governments’ IT departments, developers built their own cottage industry, creating bespoke solutions to fit their municipalities' needs.
As this was happening, the private sector was moving to incorporate Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, bringing multiple processes into singular systems to meet a wide variety of needs. The large ERP providers such as Oracle and SAP were forging ahead in their respective market.
As industry leaders and technologists started to move into public sector jobs, uptake of these systems seeped into government. Both Oracle and SAP then developed their public sector offering, which in many ways was a culmination of multiple solutions that had been used in the private sector.
SAP focused its ERP to government in the late 1990's, creating an industry solution that was rolled out to a number of governmental organizations varying from local towns to centralized government agencies. SAP was used extensively and its granularity of data was a good fit for a number of these organizations.
Unfortunately, SAP was not seen as user friendly and was considered an expensive solution. As budgets were tightened and web-based solutions were developed by tier 2 solution providers, SAP saw their foothold in the market diminish.
With the advent of S4 Hana, and SAP's change in delivery, the possibility of delivering the right solutions for the public sector is growing. A number of local government organizations are being attracted to the cloud solution and the ability to tailor their system to their needs without long laborious implementations.
The interesting aspect to note is that the public sector offering still has all the functionality that the previous iteration had. It has just been bolstered with analytics and data tools which better cater intensive reporting needs. Utilization of portals and self service means the public can self manage a number of processes and monitor their progress easily.
SAP has managed to listen to the public sector and answer a number of challenges, allowing it to expertly target pain areas of the sector. What is hindering adoption is public sector purchasing cycles, which can be slow. With the introduction of SAP RISE, however, we will see an increase in use within the public sector.
As a certified SAP Silver Partner, Aptimized is well versed in delivering ERP consulting services that are tailor made for an organization’s needs.