Numerous State, County and Municipal entities are facing difficult times managing finances and workforce cost. With the continued economic slump, government and its departments/business units are experiencing tighter budgets and are insisting upon greater value from investments. At the same time, financial and budgeting systems have aged to the point where it’s time to look at replacing them. While still useful, many existing business systems are lacking integration capabilities, hindering much-needed increases in workforce efficiency and effectiveness. New systems come with high expectations for improvement.
Financial ERP systems for State, County and Municipalities will be a major focus area for replacement and upgrades. While IT organizations have been prominent in developing project management offices (PMOs) over the last several years, IT leaders seem to have still not discovered how to gain the full support of the business. And with so much at stake for these financial and budgeting systems, many government executives are leaving little chance for project failure by appointing business leaders to drive the project implementation. The need for collaboration between the department business units and IT is tremendous during these transitions. Three critical disciplines will be needed over the next couple years for CIOs and IT leaders:
- Business process expertise
- Project investment governance
- Business acumen
None of these is about technology; all of them are about implementing technology, which is still the most important part of a CIO’s job.
Business Process Expertise
One of the most important trends for CIOs and IT leaders is the ability provide high level expertise for redesigning business processes within the organization. CIOs and IT leaders need to develop Business Process Management (BPM) expertise within their organization to support the initial and ongoing efforts to assess the business requirements prior to selecting any ERP systems for finance and budgeting.
CIOs and IT leaders must also ensure that full governance methods, processes, and tools are in place across their organization as well as in departments affected by ERP implementations. In addition, the capability for change and readiness of the IT organization will be paramount for managing the significant investment in technology, vendor systems and resources required for ERP systems implementations. Every invested dollar will be held to higher standards as performance measures become part of governance expectations.
The third discipline that will be required of CIOs and IT leaders over the next two years is “business acumen”. That is to say, they must have intimate knowledge of the business for the departments/business units they support. An even more critical aspect of business acumen is developing a first-hand business relationship with the stakeholders of the ERP initiatives long before the initiatives become defined and funded projects. Understanding individual stakeholder agendas and helping those stakeholders succeed will become an essential discipline as we move through the next few years.
By viewing these trends as a positive change and developing the three disciplines mentioned, rather than tussling with the business for control of these major systems transitions, CIOs and IT leaders will enable a collaborative and shared approach to modernization efforts.