Excerpt: Why Government is Moving to Cloud Technologies

In an interview with GovLoop, Sherry Amos from Workday discusses the state of technology in government entities, including how organizations have benefited from their gradual adoption of cloud technologies.

I recently sat down with GovLoop to chat about the state of technology in our government entities and the potential impact of modern technologies for their HR organizations. Some of what we discussed was included in a new guide produced by GovLoop, titled “How to Effectively Communicate Government Workforce Reforms.” With GovLoop’s permission, I’ve shared an excerpt from the guide. It highlights the current challenges government organizations face, and what they stand to gain from investing in more robust tools.

There are billions of dollars’ worth of hardware and software in use across government that is either obsolete or on the verge of lacking vendor support.

These older systems are difficult and expensive to maintain and don’t readily meet the needs of today’s modern workforce. Take some of the government’s older HR systems, for example.

“Not only have those systems become unwieldy to upgrade and expensive to manage, but HR professionals cannot utilize the data that sits in each of those disparate systems for true data-driven decision-makings,” said Sherry Amos, director of market development for education and government at Workday.

In an interview with GovLoop, Amos shared how government is making strides to upgrade its HR systems and improve efficiency and effectiveness with cloud solutions. She also discussed the importance of workforce management programs and tools and how Workday is contributing to those advancements.

As a whole, the HR community has benefited from the government’s gradual adoption of cloud technologies, which gained steam with initiatives like the Cloud First policy. It required agencies to show a preference toward cloud solutions when launching new IT projects.

“HR was actually one of the applications that was an early mover to the cloud,” Amos said. “If the solution is available in the cloud, agencies now realize they can’t continue to manage everything on premise. They don’t have the IT resources, and it’s difficult to keep up with security and modern technologies.”

One of the benefits of moving HR operations to the cloud is that it gives agencies more flexibility to add new capabilities, such as data analytics, to gain a 360-degree view of their workforce. Having access to these types of tools enable HR professionals to perform more strategic projects, including succession planning.

“Many of them are now able to go from a highly decentralized model of having HR professionals in every part of an agency to centralizing certain functions.”

Before agencies invested in cloud-based management tools, HR specialists were bogged down with transaction-based tasks, such as payroll, that are now being automated.

Historically, HR professionals spend 80 percent of their time conducting transactions and 20 percent on strategic work. But Workday customers report that SaaS solutions have enabled them to flip that ratio and spend between 50 and 70 percent of their time on strategic work, Amos said. “And that’s really due to a great deal of intuitiveness and an ability to roll out many more self-service capabilities for employees, such as open enrollment for benefits and onboarding.”

Agencies are gaining additional efficiencies by offering these capabilities as shared services to their sub-level components, program offices and even outside agencies. This shared approach to technology is reshaping how HR departments organize themselves across an agency.

“Many of them are now able to go from a highly decentralized model of having HR professionals in every part of an agency to centralizing certain functions,” Amos said. Another benefit of shared services is existing employees can become proficient with standard tools and processes and don’t have to be trained on new systems if they transition to a different part of the organization.

For agencies to properly plan for their future needs, they have to invest in modern workforce management programs and tools. The reason being is more employees are becoming eligible for retirement and planning their exit strategies.

“They’re now beginning to see those employees retire in very large numbers,” Amos said. “In some government organizations, as much as 25 to 40 percent of their entire staff will be eligible to retire within the next five years.”

To plan for these departures, agencies must decide how they will recruit, train and fill vacant positions. How will they preserve institutional knowledge and transfer that knowledge to new employees? And how will they develop future leaders?

Amos explained that modern workforce management tools—like those offered by Workday—were designed to solve these types of issues. With Workday, agencies benefit from what Amos calls the Power of One. This means all users are on one technology platform, with one architecture and they use the most current version. The applications they need are offered in one solution that can be accessed on a desktop or mobile device.

Workday empowers agencies to take a more active approach to workforce management. As Amos concluded, “You have to understand how many people you have and what kind of people. You have to predict your workforce and proactively source talent to ensure you’re set up for success.”

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