Because government entities have different goals and management structures than the private sector, their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems present different challenges also, according to a Denver consulting firm.
Panorama Government Solutions, a management and technology consultant for the public sector, makes the case in a white paper that ERP implementations in the government sector require a different approach than in the private sector, partly because government entities are beholden to society as a whole, while for-profit companies answer to their owners.
The white paper identifies eight key “organizational change-management challenges” for public sector entities implementing ERP systems:
1. A lack of “operational superstructure,” or managers in the operations department who can force change by demanding accountability and results. This is unlike the private sector, where managers can force change.
2. Operations silos, where public-sector fiefdoms each have their own supervisors, priorities and budgets, and some of those supervisors don’t support the ERP implementation. “Although implementations are often undertaken as a way to break down silos, (the silos) actually need to be broken down … before implementation even begins,” the white paper states.
3. Conflicting priorities, with public-sector departments giving their missions — responding to emergency fire calls, for example — priority over ERP implementations and balking at any project that may compromise those missions.
4. An increased chance of workarounds, or employees using methods that bypass the ERP, if any part of the ERP isn’t working.
5. A lack of accountability, with public-sector employees typically rewarded for longevity instead of performance, their job security rarely tied to the overall success of the organization and managers lacking effective strategies to require accountability. “Lack of accountability within organizations can be directly tied to poor ERP utilization and benefits realization, and could arguably lead to poor citizen engagement,” according to Panorama.
6. Poor performers have little risk of losing their jobs. The white paper cites a federal Merit Systems Protection Board finding that the federal government fired 0.55 percent of workers for poor performance in 2011, compared to six times as many in the private sector.
7. Job promotions are based on tenure or influence rather than merit. With leadership positions often filled with political appointments or tenure promotions, leadership experience can be lacking and the public sector leaders may not have as much formal leadership training as their counterparts in the private sector.
8. The public scrutiny that comes with taxpayer funding and the media-fueled perception of underutilized government workers who work short days. That adds to the challenge of taking on costly and risky projects like ERP implementations.
Not surprisingly, Panorama recommends the use of third-party consultants for ERP implementations. The consulting firm also states that the consultant should work with staff not only to make them familiar with the software, but to help them with the changed roles, responsibilities and processes that come with adding ERP.
Employees at all levels need to buy in to the new ERP system to make it successful. System usage, citizen engagement and department integration are other key performance indicators, according to the white paper.
Panorama’s white paper is available at: http://go.panorama-consulting.com/OCM-in-Public-Sector-ERP-Implementations_Download.html