Everybody likes an upgrade. Technology that is faster, cheaper, and more efficient helps governments do more on tight budgets—and provides more resources to the people they serve.
But not every change is an improvement. “Upgrades” that simply move an existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to the cloud just shift IT costs from one area to another and don’t address the key obstacles that governments face.
For example, the Workday Global ERP Journey survey, conducted in December 2021 in partnership with IDC, found that 81% of government respondents say their ERP system needs significant upgrades, major investments, or a complete refresh. Almost half named these as the top three challenges associated with their existing ERP systems: tech complexity (49%), budget (48%), and lack of flexibility or agility (46%). Replatforming an existing ERP system is expensive and addresses none of these challenges.
While some software providers would have government leaders believe that a “lift-and-shift” approach offers a cost-effective way for government organizations to make piecemeal improvements, in practice it leaves many fundamental problems untouched. Rather than helping governments take baby steps toward the cloud, it puts an expensive bandage on a broken system. Plus, it delays the investments that are needed to make governments more resilient in the face of uncertainty.
Here are five areas where legacy system “upgrades” fall short of the true transformations government IT systems need to adapt and evolve.
1. Outdated Functionality Limits Impact and Reach
In times of disruption, government organizations need to be able to adapt quickly to change. As the needs of citizens evolve, public IT systems will have to scale, incorporating new innovations that make them more agile.
But citizens have lost faith in government’s ability to deliver. The “Edelman Trust Barometer 2022” report revealed that only 42% of people believe that governments can successfully execute plans and strategies that yield results. To shore up eroding public confidence, governments need systems that are faster, flexible, and more user-friendly.
Legacy systems aren’t set up to incorporate modern technologies, such as machine learning, augmented analytics, and intelligent automation, that can make government workers more effective and efficient. They can’t offer the experiences and capabilities that both employees and citizens have come to expect.
Reporting is another area where these systems often fall short. Slow and unreliable manual processes hinder real-time decision-making, limiting a government’s ability to support its workforce and serve its constituents.
Moving outdated systems to the cloud doesn’t address any of these architectural shortcomings—and keeps governments shackled to technology that no longer meets their needs.
2. Expensive Short-Term Investments Delay Necessary Long-Term Changes
There’s no question that maintaining legacy systems wastes millions in public funds every year. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that just 10 critical federal IT legacy systems cost American taxpayers roughly $337 million to operate and maintain each year. Between 2014-19, maintenance of these types of legacy systems consumed nearly 80% of the U.S. government’s total IT spending.