By Leo Hanna, UK Executive Vice President TechnologyOne
The national political agenda is dominated by huge economic challenges. With soaring energy costs, demands from workers for pay increases to match rising prices and the constant need to deliver services for an ageing and more financially stressed population, councils are feeling the pinch.
So it’s perhaps no surprise local government is not relishing the prospect of spending large amounts on IT systems to support digital transformation and modernisation. But it is clear councils cannot continue operating as is. Many are run on ageing systems no longer fit for purpose, information is siloed, which brings about huge internal and external inefficiencies and for hackers, local governments are seen as easy targets that lack the resources to defend themselves against routine cyberattacks, bringing in unacceptable risk.
And while many in local government recognise the need to address these issues, some councils might feel there are more pressing demands for limited budgets than spending on new IT systems.
Whether unitary, county, district or combined authorities, the local government leaders we speak with at TechnologyOne know they must find ways to do more with even less, and fast. They are keenly aware there is no room for error on IT investment or on the growing issue of cybersecurity. Digital transformation isn’t something that can be put off, it is in fact the key to the conundrum.
In its digital strategy, the Government estimates that an impressive £1 billion in annual savings could be achieved by replacing outdated IT systems, and by switching to digitally transformative cloud-based services, within central government.
Digital transformation was well under way in UK councils before the arrival of COVID-19 but has accelerated rapidly since. More effective flows of data, which joined-up Software-as-a-Service enterprise resource planning systems enable, can also help councils drive intelligent digital services and improved decisions on investment. The greater protection against cyberattacks that modern IT systems gives is a welcome additional benefit for local authorities, who can’t afford to see their system brought down by hackers.
At TechnologyOne, our new Solution-as-a-Service offering (also known as SaaS Plus), sees us charge a flat, single yearly fee to implement, run and support the software. This means local government can avoid the high initial outlay that usually comes with an ERP implementation. SaaS Plus also dramatically decreases the implementation time of the core solution, which helps improve time to value.
As councils are feeling the pressure from every angle, digital transformation needs to be in their arsenal to help them cope with inflation, population shifts and support residents through the cost of living crisis all the while heightening protection for cybersecurity risks.