Other parts of this series:
Transforming the back office is not only about driving efficiency and lowering costs. It’s also about enabling finance to truly improve how government achieves the mission of serving citizens.
The good news is that public service is seen as a noble profession, which can appeal to the young generation. Also, public sector finance leaders aspire to a more strategic role in decision-making to benefit the citizens they serve. As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, findings from Accenture’s survey of government finance leaders signal they are ready for a seismic shift in what the finance function does and how it works. What’s more—and this is critical—digital is the means to the end of helping them do that.
The multiplier effect of digital
There are many ways that a digital back office impacts the scope and scale of citizen service transformation. At the most basic level, digital technologies support higher-quality services. From handwriting-recognition tools that instantly push citizens’ details into the system to analytics that help public health organizations better understand mortality rates, the possibilities are extensive. With digital taking on routine or transactional tasks, expert resources can pivot away from clerical work, and instead, bring more insight, creativity and innovation to citizen service delivery.
Toward data-driven citizen service
Data will increasingly become finance’s secret weapon for improving citizen service delivery. Already, an impressive 81 percent of public sector finance organizations are exploiting data to better identify and target areas of new value across the organization. For example, evidence-based budgeting and program evaluation.
As public sector finance organizations implement enterprise resource planning tools that are integrated with data and analytics functionality, they can marshal resources in wholly new ways. Finance can use data much more effectively in the budgeting process for the entire organization, using sophisticated analytics tools to understand where resources are best deployed. This is a crucial enabler of improved citizen service.
We are also seeing public sector finance leaders—47 percent—use data and analytics tools to predict the future, rather than to report the past. This is a breakthrough for the future of citizen service. Finally, finance will be well positioned to allocate resources more effectively to the areas of greatest need, shaping plans, decisions and actions to align with citizens’ demands.
This is happening right now. The chief financial officer at a leading university in the United Kingdom is putting data to work to transform citizen service. “We can combine our finance data with student satisfaction data, with research performance, national rankings and global rankings in order to understand how different parts of the university perform across different academic activities,” he says. “We can use that combination of data to understand how we compare to other institutions. Then we can use that insight to tackle and direct areas of underperformance. We can interrogate statistics on league tables to understand what we need to do to improve our rankings.”
Change starts with the right mindset
When it comes to more digital—and more data—in the back office, citizen service experiences have everything to gain. But for this positive change to happen, public sector finance organizations must continue to evolve their mindsets. Indeed, higher standards are now the end goal for many public sector finance leaders. Their determination to shift finance into a more strategic role hinges on how effectively they can drive digital innovation throughout the enterprise. That’s the key to deliver the service that citizens want—and deserve.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog series exploring the results of Accenture’s survey of public sector finance leaders. I encourage you to read the survey results in details, and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter if you aren’t already.
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