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Public Sector Digitisation

The size of the regional and national government IT services market worldwide has been valued recently at as much as $16.5 billion U.S. by Statistica.

There has been a slight contraction in spending by government organisations on IT during the pandemic but the public sector IT spend will increase substantially over the next five years, with a compound growth rate of 1.5%. The general trend is toward greater IT spend as money spent on IT brings significant return on investment through savings in other areas, and local and national government organisations are seeing substantial pressure to digitise and economise their operations.

IT provision for the public sector is an extremely large topic and we won’t be producing a comprehensive “guide to SAP in the public sector”. However, this week IgniteSAP will be discussing this area of the SAP ecosystem as it is a substantial source of employment for SAP consultants. Our quick overview of the area should be considered an introduction for IT consultants who are unfamiliar with the employment possibilities that it presents for an SAP specialist.

Governments Need Transparency

As with businesses, local and national governments are large organisations which process vast amounts of data in the course of their operations. The use of data, analytics, finance, HR services and customer experience management solutions can all contribute to the smooth operation of a governing organisation by creating opportunities for transparency and resilience.

In fact the similarities between the digital enterprise and the digital governing organisation are extensive. The main difference being that, to a governing organisation their services are provided to citizens rather than customers. The citizens are customers and shareholders in the governing organisation.

It follows therefore, that SAP solutions, which can have a profoundly beneficial affect on businesses are also used very successfully in the public sector context, and that there is high demand for IT consultants who specialise in the relevant SAP modules to provide services to implement and maintain the SAP systems of governments.

Transforming Society

There is a real opportunity to bring about transformation in society by the intelligent application of SAP technologies and, more generally by using the principles of ERP so that the government can fulfil its goal of representing and working for the benefit of the people.

As an IT consultant specialising in SAP services for the public sector you could be instrumental in changing your community for the better, so there is added incentive over working the the private sector in this respect.

Society, and the way that governments operate in society is changing, and SAP can be instrumental to this change. Satpal Biant, Head of Public Sector at SAP UK & Ireland has said:

“The public sector is on the verge of a hybrid-working revolution due to technological advancements. Workers are choosing and selecting their next employment based on alignment of values, professional development possibilities, and work-life harmony, as the power balance between companies and employees shifts. Organisations have been under pressure to significantly expand their provision of public services and to revamp their operations at the same time, compelling them to embrace digital innovation in ways they have never done before.”

Citizen-Centred Organisations

The parallels between the corporate and public sector are becoming more pronounced: as businesses have become more orientated toward the needs and values of their employees as well as their customers through human experience management, government organisations are attempting to become more centred on what their citizens require in their interactions. Data collection is increasing exponentially but legislation on data privacy is catching up fast. This means an extra layer of complexity when gathering and analysing citizen data, and data about organisational operations, as well as securely sharing data between government departments.

The provision of public services is in fact far more crucial than a single business connecting with customers. This is because the services which the public sector provides are often more widespread, being of use to everyone in a society, not just those who choose a single business.

In order to give you examples of a range of applications of SAP technology in the public sector we include a selection of examples of successful projects below.

The City of Cape Town: Fixing Roads Faster

Cape Town is a city of 4 million citizens, and the transport department of the city administration wanted to streamline and automate the maintenance process for the city’s roads and storm drains. This was in order to compensate for an increasing population and a changing climate putting more pressure on the city infrastructure.

The Cape Town Transport Department knew it had to digitise and automate processes in their 21 maintenance depots and enable analysis to support resources allocation and proactive maintenance.

Using a packaged solution from SAP partner HCL Technologies a team implemented a SAP Fiori app which integrated with the existing SAP ERP solution. This allowed maintenance crews to access task details and record status updates in the field and on the road, with geospatial functionality and real-time analytics with SAP Analytics Cloud.

This significantly accelerated the maintenance process from weeks to days, and enabled planners to better manage their resources to get the jobs done more efficiently.

This also led to higher maintenance standards, reduced costs and greater satisfaction in users of the road network.

The City of Vienna: Streamlining Contracts for a Digital Organisation

Vienna strives to be a modern, efficient city and like many European cities has an ambition to become a Smart City. To achieve this ambition they needed to support technical and social innovations, so they began to centralise the management of legal contracts.

An IT team of 1,000 people merged together three separate entities as a pilot project to enable integrated contract management to facilitate the use of further intelligent technologies. They laid the ground work for a system which combined SAP S/4HANA and Fiori Apps along with third party solutions for digital signatures. This united all enterprise contracts in a single repository which increased the visibility, and agility of the organisation.

The greater transparency of the whole contract lifecycle reduced workload and enhanced support for compliance for deadlines, schedules and auditing. It also meant there was better productivity across all processes including source to pay, design to operate, lead to cash and through HR from hire to retire.

The European Parliament: Integrating Workflows for Financial Processes.

The European Parliament represents the second largest electorate in the world, and the Directorate-General for Finance (DG FINS) manages services from procurement and budgetary execution, to financial management and inventory management.

When a new solution was sought to replace an outdate and disparate combination of systems, which included manual and paper-based processes, DG FINS looked something that would give employees a simplified user experience and ease the administrative burden. Other criteria for the replacement were a high level of visibility and support for continuity and compliance.

Working with ATOS and SAP the DG FINS of the European Parliament implemented a centralised instance of S/4HANA which removed the need for almost all paper processes, enabled remote working, and streamlined expense workflows across all locations. This also reduced payment and validation time.

The integrated interface between 40 applications for optimal master data maintenance, reduced master data and governance costs for more than 25,000 vendors, as well as automating inventory management and registration processes, which further reduce administrative effort. This instance of S/4HANA also integrated seamlessly with the pre-existing bespoke procurement application.

hub.brussels: Managing Public Money Efficiently

Brussels Business Support Agency (hub.brussels) promotes economic development by offering comprehensive services for entrepreneurs. To ensure return on public investment, detailed planning of activities is crucial, but achieving an organisation-wide view was time consuming as the data was split across multiple sources.

hub.brussels decided to implement a cloud-based solution to provide consolidated, real-time reporting along with advanced analytics for project planning.

Working with SAP’s Customer Engagement Support team, with extensive change management and training workshops, they adopted a solution which integrated Analytics Cloud with S/4HANA, enabling the incorporation of actuals into budgets and forecasting.

Users were empowered with improved access to project information and weekly plan updates, leading to a clear understanding of the overall picture and a more agile response to requirements.

They were able to think more proactively about the business opportunities and quickly adopt new financial reporting processes which were compliant with legislation for public entities.

ITZBund and SAP: AI across German Federal Agencies

The German Federal Center for Information Technology (ITZBund) has been tasked with creating an AI platform for all federal authorities. The first AI projects are based on SAP HANA and SAP Data Intelligence in a modular and scalable way.

This platform will be used in many ways including prediction of economic developments, detecting anomalies in large volumes of data (for fraud for example), monitoring and controlling traffic systems and creating crisis alerts.

The solution which SAP and ITZBund have been creating guarantees data protection and security as the data is highly sensitive. It is a AI reference architecture which can be adopted for various uses in the future. This modularity means it can be adapted quickly to various departments.

The solution is currently in use by the German Federal Central Tax Office (BZSt) to evaluate tax data and the German Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) is scheduled to connect to the AI platform soon.

Holger Lehmann, management team leader in the ITZBund, said:

“As a public administration, we must have control and data sovereignty: but not do everything ourselves. If we want digital sovereignty, we need powerful partners who will work with us in representing the interests of the German Federal Republic.”

Landratsamt Rhein-Neckar-Kreis: Regional Networks to Connect Migrants with Services

The social and economic integration of migrants is challenging for regional governments. Landratsamt Rhein-Neckar-Kreis, a county in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, needed to make a digital communication and collaboration platform to connect authorities and volunteers across the region.

The Integration Portal was intended to be a hub for the coordination of support services for migrants and refugees. To create it the local government needed to implement the right technology so employees and volunteers from 54 local authorities could exchange information for collaboration.

Using an instance of the SAP Successfactors Workzone solution the team was able to implement a system with strict data-privacy rules which simplified the administrative burden. This resulted in a system which was mobile and connected, meaning cross-regional collaborations could be arranged easily and all users had access to the information they needed on one platform. This increased visibility and empowered employees and volunteers to perform tasks more efficiently.

Specialising in SAP for Government Organisations

Due to the similarities in the way that large organisations are required to operate, whether they are situated in the public or private sector, it is always possible to refocus on specialising in the public sector if you had original envisioned a career in the private sector.

SAP has many solutions and platforms which are geared towards the public sector like SAP Public Sector Management (PSM), and the Rise with SAP package for the Public Sector, but essentially all your pre-existing skills can be repurposed towards a career in the public sector.

If you are interested in learning more and gaining certifications which would prepare you for such a path then a good place to start would be the SAP Learning Journey entitled SAP for Public Sector.

As the stories above show, there is an immense amount of satisfaction in using your SAP skills for the public good and you can really have a positive impact on the lives of thousands, and perhaps millions if you are involved in the right project.

If you would like to discuss an SAP consulting career in the public sector or any other area of SAP then join us at IgniteSAP.