Up-to-date, robust IT systems streamline challenges faced by the public sector and are a worthwhile investment for agencies of all sizes
By Wayne Bobby
As federal decision-makers come to terms with the dimensions and possibilities of a $1-trillion infrastructure initiative, a stark reality is coming into focus for the agencies that will implement the program: the gaps in human and physical infrastructure facing the U.S. government itself are becoming increasingly significant. The federal work force is aging, and data from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) show the public sector is falling behind in the race to hire new talent. Federal healthcare institutions are scrambling to contain costs, while delivering the excellent front-line care that patients and their families expect. The federal government owns, leases, or manages a mind-boggling 273,000 buildings, 496,000 structures, and 640,000 fleet vehicles, adding up to a monumental enterprise asset management challenge.
In an era of “skinny” budgets, it’s a given that every federal agency will be expected to deliver more, better, faster with fewer resources. Balancing these overlapping, competing demands is a daunting task, but it isn’t impossible. Not as long as public service managers can count on a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure to optimize every aspect of their day-to-day management and longer-term business strategy.
A Growing Talent Gap
With the accelerating demographic shift in the public sector work force, human resource managers have become the first line of defense in the effort to deliver effective, efficient, transparent public services.
Agencies have had time to prepare for the wave of retirements now sweeping governments at all levels, from coast to coast. The less predictable sequel? The difficulty public sector organizations have had in recruiting new talent.
The numbers tell the story: as the millennial generation enters the workforce, the proportion of federal employees under 30 years of age fell from more than 10% in 2010 to 6.4% in 2015, according to OPM. A smart, intuitive, cloud-based talent management system can be a big part of the solution.
With new hires numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands in a single federal department, effective human capital management depends on onboarding and employee retention strategies built on the latest principles of talent science. The choice for organizations is clear: find the IT infrastructure that can do the job, or expect missed targets and lost opportunities due to persistent vacancies in key job categories.
Delivering Good Health
With 500 hardware and software systems playing a role in delivering patient services, interoperability is the key ingredient in managing government healthcare facilities. It’s the only way to keep up with a torrent of information that is critical to every institution’s mission, strictly private from the patient’s standpoint, and highly regulated.
The right cloud-based healthcare management infrastructure for any facility is the one that integrates data and systems across the care continuum, rather than leaving managers to wrangle the details across siloed systems—or, much worse, creating dangerous disconnects between essential patient information and the practitioners who need it. Healthcare managers should also be able to rely on their enterprise software to streamline staffing, deliver insights on in-house work flows, and simplify payments, reimbursements, and reporting.
Managing and Optimizing Assets
Asset management is a never-ending mission, not a one-off assignment. Physical assets need maintenance and rehabilitation. Specialized devices must constantly be calibrated and repaired. And as equipment and infrastructure reach the end of their operating lives, they must be overhauled or replaced.
All of the operations and maintenance activity unfolds daily across a large organization. And the work has to be done with minimal or no disruption to routine program activities. Managers should expect their enterprise asset management (EAM) system to hold an inventory of all facilities and equipment, then track the detailed service history for each item. From that baseline information, an EAM system should be able to deliver a predictive maintenance plan that allows an organization to optimize performance and schedule maintenance to avoid service interruptions or bottlenecks.
The Power of Partnership
For public sector managers facing a perfect storm of operational challenges, modern enterprise software can provide a pathway to operational efficiency, transparency, and regulatory compliance. For that potential to become a reality, any agency must find a software provider that can function as a strategic partner, not just the vendor on the other end of a transaction.
Although public sector institutions share broad strategic objectives—at the level of responsiveness, integrity, and operational excellence—every office has its own specific needs and challenges. Software systems can and should be able to adapt accordingly. When the match works, public service works more smoothly and effectively, and everyone—from employees to stakeholders—stands to gain.
Wayne Bobby is Vice President of Infor Federal. He may be reached at www.infor.com.