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The Evolution of Modern Back Office Best Practices


Written in collaboration with Rasika Mathur, Director, Government Cloud Solutions at Oracle

When we thought that we had achieved the vision of the “paperless” office with the ability to scan and attach digital versions of paper documents and digital signatures, these concepts quickly became a thing of the past. Today’s technologies enable digital processes from start to finish.  Cloud computing is the underlying technology for other digital enablers, including social, mobile, analytics and the Internet of Things. Advance­ments in cloud computing have become pivotal to establishing and achieving modern best practices for back office.

Effective agencies take advantage of digital transforma­tions, and embed solutions into the pro­cess—whether it’s employee recruitment, financial reporting, or budgeting. Government organizations have always pursued process improvement, better integration of resources, reduced paperwork and other overall efficiencies. Technology is often the foundation of those pursuits. In many ways though, modern technologies are now driving best practices. Without them, you can only advance so far.  Here’s a look at how technology is positively affecting several areas of business best practices.

Human Capital and Talent Management

The overall workforce is changing and govern­ments are challenged with competing with private industry to attract the same caliber of talent. Successful recruiting efforts begin with the first interaction, and top talent expects social, mobile and easy-to-use solutions at work. Modern government business practices must align to the expectation of the skilled job seekers.  Government organizations that can’t provide that experience will lose out in the battle for their attention.

Agencies need a comprehensive understanding of their existing workforce, so they can have visibility into who is ready to retire, or move on to other positions and when that transition will likely occur.  They have to predict their future needs and establish a plan to ensure they have resources with the necessary skills to fill those gaps. Cloud computing helps to achieve success by providing sophisticated data collection and a way to marry that with analytics to help predict those future needs, understand potential gaps, and develop a succession plan.

The City of Chicago has successfully used cloud computing to navigate these challenges. Chicago deployed a cloud solution to automate its hiring processes, enabling officials to reduce the number of candidates they need to manually screen by 75 percent, while also cutting the time-to-hire from a year to just 90 days. In the process, the city saves millions of dollars a year in recruitment costs.

Finance and Procurement

The government finance office can profit from modern technologies, particularly with the often tedious process of period end closing and financial reporting. This process involves coordinating all involved accounting staff and ensuring they complete the right tasks in the right order. They also automatically keep a written record of the process in case questions need to be answered after the fact.  From a procurement perspective, cloud-based applications provide a guided shopping experience to help gov­ernment purchasers. Workers simply enter a keyword for what they need. They then see a list of ap­proved vendors along with the negotiat­ed contract prices. Procurement policies are enforced through this application, and all necessary accounting is complet­ed automatically. All the purchaser has to do is select the item.

The City of Detroit has worked hard to emerge from their financial difficulties, and have transformed their business processes by replacing their existing back-office ERP solution with a cloud solution. Instead of looking to a solution that would require customization to meet their current processes, they looked to modern technology to take advantage of best practices inherent in the applications.  It will provide the city with the ability to implement standardized leading-practices throughout their departments. They looked to hire and cultivate within their workforce change agents to help them transform.

Planning, Budgeting and Reporting

There is no government function that stands to profit more from modern, technology-driven best practices than the budgeting process. The primary aspects of the budget process, preparation, analyzing the costs and revenues, and communicating the budget all can be dramatically improved with modern best practices. Cloud applications offer an intuitive, easy-to-use employee experience, letting the tool be used across the organization and at all levels. It simplifies and accelerates the process of engaging different departments and agencies that have input into the budget reporting process. Today, more government agencies are engaging citizens during the budget process using modern social collaboration tools. Modern planning and budgeting solutions facilitate those exchanges.


Government agencies face a growing urgency with regard to upgrading and integrating their back-office processes with modern mobile, social and predictive analytics technologies. Modern best practices dictate their use, and government agencies that fail to embrace them will quickly fall behind in delivering the services employees and citizens expect. The cloud provides not only the opportunity to deploy those new technologies but also align business process to best practices. Oracle has developed a website devoted to modern back office best business practices across industries and processes, we encourage you leverage it.

Franco Amalfi is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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