Government entities need services to be online, intuitive, and reliable for their constituents and their workforces. The same is true for back-office systems that keep operations efficient, executives and managers informed, and public employees productive.
Public sector IT projects are executed in decentralized environments and under tight funding constraints. And when it comes to government technology transformation, it’s hard to drive change from the top because authority often rests within separate branches. Government projects are challenged even more by periodic elections that can replace elected officials and administrators, impacting priorities, budgets, and decision-making across agencies and departments.
Given these factors, and the uptick we at Workday have seen in the demand for cloud-based services and systems, we evaluated multiple projects and customer feedback to identify practices that can help governments succeed with their cloud migrations.
Align on Purpose: Why Change?
This question is arguably the most important when considering a move to a cloud-based enterprise system. There needs to be a clear business case for a cloud investment, and it must be communicated widely. The case for change also serves as the foundation for guiding principles (e.g., the government will utilize software functionality to modernize business processes rather than recreating legacy processes in the new cloud application). These guiding principles help the project team and steering committee with decisions throughout the journey and can help measure project success.
Establishing a Partnership With IT
The case for “why change?” should be developed by the business lines in partnership with IT. With cloud-based projects, government entities have an opportunity to position the IT organization as a partner rather than the sole owner of the effort. In cloud projects, most of our customers either lead with the business side—such as the CFO, CHRO, or chief administration officer (CAO)—or it is an equal partnership with IT.
What Does Success Look Like?
“Being more efficient” is too broad of a key performance indicator (KPI). The best metrics define success in a granular way. As examples, KPIs could be: reduce maverick spend by 50%, improve time to hire by at least 20%, or reduce time to financial period close by 30%.
The KPIs may not be IT-specific objectives, but business outcomes sought by different organizational stakeholders. It’s helpful to define these success targets as early in the deployment as possible, as these metrics can guide decision-making during the system design phase. If the planned budget decreases for some reason, predefined success metrics help prioritize outcomes for the initial deployment, while lower priority outcomes can be pushed out for future system optimization efforts.
Having an outside perspective and analysis can help. Prior to starting deployment, Workday’s value management team works with governments to baseline current performance in administrative areas such as finance, HR, payroll, or procurement. After go live and system stabilization, that team returns to measure performance in these same areas, allowing us to quantify the magnitude of improvement.