Choosing the Right Software Implementation for Your Government Entity

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At the onset of the pandemic, a great number of government entities decided to implement newer software that would support operations more effectively. Some of them had lost a significant percentage of staff and needed technology to help fill the gaps. Others needed a more sophisticated tool to manage pandemic-specific complexities.

For others, system upgrades were long overdue with some governmental organizations still operating on systems from the 80s. For these, the pandemic era was the best time to make the move, particularly given the availability of federal funds for infrastructure improvements.

Today, the systems of the 80s are not sufficient. They do not support critical functions such as gathering and organizing robust and complex information from our financial systems. They do not allow organizations to meet modern demands and interact with other technology’s in the communities they serve. The pandemic was a driving force for change among governments, but that change had been a long time coming.

There are many advantages of upgrading to more modern systems as the risks of staying with legacy technology can be disruptive and even more expensive in the long run.

Immediate Advantages of Modern Software Implementation for Governments

Remove legacy system limitations and accommodate changes in technology

Modern software can more effectively support governments’ efforts to conduct daily operations more efficiently.

For example, your government uses a variety of technologies to comply with policies, procedures and regulations, and to interact with other organizations in and around your community. These compliance necessities are all evolving beyond the capacity of legacy technology.

If your system doesn’t seamlessly support a new mandate to track a certain set of information, you will have to spend additional time and resources to comply.

Modern software maintains virtual audit trails. Approvals are more seamless, both internally and externally, and tracking happens automatically.

Gain efficiency and support transparency with the cloud

Having your infrastructure in the cloud greatly improves efficiency. Simply the act of going paperless yields significant time and resource savings for governments. Further, being able to access the system from anywhere gives you visibility over operations when you need it, removes the limitations and risks of on-premises servers, enables a remote workforce and helps your entity be transparent.

Transparency is key in governments and legacy systems make it more difficult to compile necessary information in a timely fashion. Today’s software options allow governments to share direct, real-time access to public information with city councils, boards and committees.

In terms of the limitations of on-premises infrastructure, many governments implemented cloud-based solutions during the pandemic as part of their risk management and emergency response. The government can’t shut down and its services must go on. With cloud-based solutions , sending employees to work remotely or having your region endure a natural disaster won’t separate you from your systems.

Enable seamless integration and improved tracking

When your technology upgrade includes migrating to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, you eliminate much of the headache of trying to make systems communicate, integrate and relay data back and forth. Historically, governments have had several external programs running and maintaining transactional information that needed to be centralized manually. The integrity of such data is difficult to maintain in this fashion. An ERP system allows for seamless integration and centralization of departments, locations, processes and transactions.

Enhance and simplify report writing and budgeting

Newer technology is better at getting information into people’s hands when they need it to make decisions. Centralized data and greater efficiency of systems contribute to this. For example, if you can get real-time access to financial information to a city council, you build trust. A new software implementation can help eliminate barriers for those seeking answers and information.

Risks and consequences of waiting to upgrade government software

The potential complexities of implementing new technology may keep many government entities from moving forward. Two of the common reasons governments wait to upgrade their software are 1) lack of funding, and 2) insufficient personnel resources. Without sufficient personnel resources, the work it takes to get such a project off the ground may feel prohibitive. The project manager, which is often the Chief Financial Officer or Financial Director, should:

  • Gain buy-in from leadership and employees
  • Manage the natural human resistance to change
  • Make the case for the financial investment
  • Plan, fund and execute the implementation, which requires personnel resources

Moreover, implementation timelines are often one to two years long depending on the size of the organization. In addition to these administrative hurdles, there are political considerations, where every election cycle brings with it a new set of opinions and a steeper learning curve for new members of governance.

Inadequate cybersecurity

The maintenance of legacy systems for government operations makes cybersecurity more challenging. It is time- and resource-consuming to update the system manually, patch vulnerabilities and monitor for threats. Then, if an incident does occur, managing the response can be expensive and consume other resources as well. Cloud-based software is protected and monitored by the cloud provider and the most common providers have high-level security experts and sophisticated systems for keeping your data and infrastructure safe.

As an example, in 2019, 22 municipalities were affected during a ransomware attack on the State of Texas. Their systems were held hostage and they were unable to provide services such as processing payments and providing access to birth and death certificates.

Learn more about the impact of a cybersecurity incident or breach on a government entity.

Potential noncompliance

By staying on a legacy system, you are at risk of being out of compliance with applicable laws, rules, mandates, and regulations. If you are not able to track and report appropriately, you may not be able to comply with requirements. New systems have better functionality with improved tracking and reporting to help governments remain compliant.

Inefficiencies and weaknesses with internal controls

It is more difficult to maintain strong internal controls with outdated systems that don’t integrate well or allow for data integrity. In newer systems, there are red flags for internal controls that enhance compliance and create efficiencies. The audit trails are tracked digitally, including signoffs and authorizations. There is verification along the way and they are permanently recorded which supports transparency and accountability.

Software Implementation Support for Government Entities

When governments decide it’s time to upgrade their software, they often request support from an advisory firm such as Eide Bailly. Resources at government entities are often tight, especially given current challenges in the industry:

  • Fewer individuals entering the industry 
  • Fewer highly skilled finance professionals available to hire 
  • Consistent turnover in existing personnel 
  • Continued pandemic-related issues around returning to work 
  • The Great Resignation

In fact, it is these challenges that often lead to the realization that new software can’t be put off any longer. Slim resources have revealed oversights and inefficiencies that can’t persist if an organization wants to run smoothly and successfully.

For example, many organizations discovered they did not have the sophisticated IT support, network, or systems they thought they had when they transitioned to the remote work environment. In addition, organizations took a close look at processes to discover where time was being wasted such as on manual tasks that could be automated or resolved with integrated technology.

These challenges ignited discussions about how to proceed if it is necessary to do so with fewer people. The answer in many cases is — new software.

Considering these circumstances, getting assistance from software implementation advisors can be critical to a seamless, successful experience. Eide Bailly supports government software implementations in a variety of ways. The following example of the City of Gridley, California is evidence of this:

City of Gridley, California

The city of Gridley was running on a legacy system from the 80s. They had outgrown that system and needed a solution that could do more for them. Eide Bailly had an existing relationship with the city of Gridley, providing accounting support to bridge the gap between higher-level financial reporting and financial management in their accounting department. It’s challenging for rural government entities to get the skilled labor necessary to operate all key functions and Eide Bailly can provide such outsourced services efficiently and cost-effectively to ensure secure operations.

When the city determined it was time for a newer ERP system, their accounting support team connected them with the Eide Bailly technology consulting team. They worked together to build an implementation plan. Eide Bailly guided them through the process and the technology team was the liaison between the implementation team, the city, and the accounting consulting team to ensure the data was migrated correctly and the system was operating appropriately.

Learn how we helped the County of Sonoma Energy and Sustainability department develop a better way to serve their community’s needs.

Finding – and Funding – the Right Solutions for Your Government

Working with a firm like Eide Bailly, government entities can benefit from a range of advisory and functional services.

For instance, our experts can advise on funding options. Two key funding sources came about during the onset of the pandemic: 1) Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funds, and 2) American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. We have experience working with these pieces of legislation as well as other funding opportunities for government entities. (Keep in mind that these specific funds have designations, requirements and deadlines that may not apply to all circumstances.)

We also offer a broad range of other services relevant to government entities, including:

Now is the Time to Upgrade Your Government Software 

Many governments get stuck waiting for the “perfect time” to implement new technology and they end up waiting until it’s too late when they need the technology in a hurry. If you were waiting for the right time, it is now. There is funding available. Putting modern software in place will help you run smoother, more efficient operations and interact with the infrastructure of other organizations and your community.

Choosing which software to implement for your government can be daunting. We can help make the selection and implementation processes simpler, more effective, and more cost-efficient. Now is the time to take action.

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