This blog is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Tech Priorities for a Modern State and Local Government.”
It’s no secret that public sector human resources departments can be challenging to run. Unlike most of the private sector, government HR operates in a highly-regulated environment that can be difficult to introduce and implement new, efficient processes in.
But as the public sector continues to innovate IT, HR processes are moving increasingly towards modernization. One tool in almost every government HR department across state and local organizations is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution. This is a process management software that allows HR to leverage a system of integrated applications to process and manage information across the organization. It is also important to note an ERP isn’t a single solution that meets all of government’s requirements, but instead is a platform of the right solutions that meet specific business needs.
However, rules and regulations that exist in government make implementing an ERP solution rather difficult. To learn how government HR departments can overcome some of these challenges, GovLoop sat down with Linda Misegadis, Public Sector Industry Expert at Kronos, a workforce management company.
Misegadis explained that government is unique because it functions like a single employer with multiple industries. “This creates a challenge from a workforce management standpoint because you need to look at all the different business requirements needed for the various agencies,” she said. “So we might see specific public safety scheduling requirements in a sheriff, police, or fire department, and you would need to have a unique solution that would meet that requirement.”
Government leaders and department heads need a complete view of their workforce that includes time and attendance, absence management, and schedules. Without this visibility, agencies are left vulnerable to labor law compliance risk and cost overruns. Still, one of the biggest challenges that state and local government agencies face is not having the right solution to collect the data they need to gain this enterprise view.
In a time when data is so important and leaders need a holistic view, many agencies are trying to customize their already existing ERPs. Large enterprise systems are very complex and have a heavy reliance on already strapped IT departments. Any customization to the platform is costly and adds additional complexity to an already complex solution.
Most of these solutions were built for white collar employees who don’t have a lot of variance in the work management. Customization gets complicated for government agencies because not only does each department have a large population of hourly employees, they also have different workforce requirements that must be built into the ERP.
Not only is creating custom code initially expensive, but agencies must make sure that with every upgrade or change to the system, each customization still works. “Many times what happens is rather than paying for costly customization, the various departments end up finding alternative solutions by buying their own technology or going back to using paper. But this doesn’t really allow them to accomplish what they want,” Misegadis explained.
In order to leverage ERP solutions while avoiding customization costs, Misegadis recommended agencies look to augment their current ERP platform with integration from a third-party solution. “When you look at a third-party solution, the vendor is really coming in and supplementing the ERP with a configurable solution that meets specific business requirements,” she said.
Kronos can meet with a government organization and identify the distinct workforce challenges that are being faced in the different departments. “What makes Kronos unique is that we do something called a business assessment where we bring our resources in at no cost to the customer, and we analyze all their business processes,” Misegadis explained. By doing a deep dive into each agency, Kronos is able to offer areas of operational improvement and an actual return on investment.
This enables governments to tighten up and automate their workforce management processes and allows employees to stop focusing on administrative tasks and be repurposed back into doing more substantive work.
Ultimately, that’s what makes Kronos unique in this space. They really understand the government workforce and how the public sector operates, and they are able to help organizations solve these nuanced problems they might be struggling with.
For more information about how to innovate state and local government, you can find the full guide here.