Local and state governments need to do some serious planning when they acquire new technology, says Shyam Jajodia, executive vice president and solution architect at invenioLSI, a large global independent SAP consultancy and implementation partner for the public sector. SAP is a widely used enterprise resource planning (ERP) software that creates a centralized system for organizations that allows each department to access and share common data to create a superior work environment for every staffer in the enterprise.
The firm enables organizations to modernize so they can run at the speed of today’s business. The company knows how to navigate the numerous complications of public sector organizations. The firm collaborates with stakeholders to drive change. It relies on the technologies of today to create the agile organizations of tomorrow. The company’s cloud solution allows organizations and agencies to scale quickly, reduce overhead and achieve flexibility.
“One of the most crucial factors for government agencies to consider when buying technology is what is the end goal of their technological innovation and once that is determined, to remain focused on that goal. There must be a clear and concise strategy before embarking on a digital transformation,” Jajodia tells Co-op Solutions.
Jajodia says choosing the correct advisors for the agency’s tech-buying team is important: “With the increased attention on modernizing public services, government agencies must also consider identifying the right IT consultants to guide them through the tech acquisition process, education and implementation.” Jajodia believes the consultants can and will serve as trusted advisors to the agency. “They will help develop and implement advanced systems that are tailored to each agency’s need.”
Jajodia says agencies need to cast a wide net and recruit needed talent as they plan to acquire new systems. “The public sector is unique when it comes to buying and deploying new technology. All key stakeholders need to be involved, including the end user.” He lists some key members of the team:
- The executive team in the agency needs to be on board to make the project a priority. Jajodia’s view: “Executive buy-in is crucial, meaning that all executives are supportive of the changes that will result from new technologies.”
- The IT operations team should be involved in the acquisition because they’ll have to manage the new systems.
- The IT security team should be included in the acquisition. They will ensure that the new equipment meets the organization’s and government’s standards for cybersecurity and data protection.
- The agency’s procurement decision-makers should be on board during the buying process.
- The end-users who will be working with the new technology—If their input isn’t included prior to the adoption, the agency won’t realize the maximum value of the cutting-edge systems.
Jajodia notes that many public sector organizations rely on networks of consultants and solutions providers to bring needed and hard-to-obtain expertise to agencies’ technology acquisitions. He adds that those outside organizations can address specific skillsets that the acquiring agency may need before and after the purchase.
It’s crucial, Jajodia explains, for agencies to have the right personnel onboard as the digital renewal process goes into motion. “One of the key issues government agencies face when buying new technology is having the right subject matter expertise in place to make that technology work within the agency’s objectives.” He adds that it’s important that the agency have the right mix of government employees who possess the unique skills to solve the challenges the new tech is meant to address. He explains that it’s also essential that the government have a trusted IT consultant to guide the process from beginning to end. His conclusion: “IT consultants can alleviate many of the pain points associated with buying tech if they are brought in from the onset.”
Jajodia believes governments must shorten the procurement process so new tech solutions can be implemented more quickly. He is convinced that taking this step will prevent a common point of failure. “According to a recent survey we conducted of public sector employees, nearly half (43 percent) said that the top mistake government organizations make in purchasing tech software and services is having a lengthy procurement process.”
He adds that public sector organizations should set realistic expectations regarding timetables, and to be prepared for setbacks. Agencies, he says, should plan to develop revisions and alterations that may arise when deploying new tech. “Having dedicated time and budget built in for testing and validating the new technology during implementation also ensures a smooth transition without downtime.”
It’s Jajodia’s view that no public sector digital transformation project can be successful without proper change management. It’s his belief that change management is one of the most underappreciated aspects of selecting a new technology. “If employees are not willing to adopt a new technology at the onset, it will fail. Project leaders must lay the groundwork and determine a cultural approach that successfully relays to employees how this new tech will benefit them and their constituents.”
invenioLSI has partnered with several cities and counties. The company helps local governments obtain and adopt advanced technology solutions to help them better serve the public. Some examples of its public sector customers include San Bernardino County, Calif; Prince George’s County, Md.; Sedgwick County, Kan.; San Diego County, Calif; Travis County, Texas; Suffolk County, N.Y. and Collier County, Fla. The company helped San Bernardino County in its adoption of SAP Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC). View the case study.
Jajodia believes it is essential for the public sector, including local governments, to obtain the latest technology and software, including ERP systems. “Local public services organizations underpin our economy and provide important services that most of us rely on daily. These organizations are committed to being responsive and providing quality service and having a positive impact on their constituents and communities.”
He provides a compelling argument why cities and counties will be upgrading, so they can deliver needed service in the most efficient manner possible: “Local governments must develop and implement advanced technology systems tailored to each department’s specific needs and mission. Organizations cannot depend on decades-old legacy systems to serve their constituents in the 21st century, and this applies to ERP systems as well.”
Jajodia confirms that cooperative procurement agreements can play a pivotal role in technology and software buys for local governments. “Most definitely! We all know that the RFP process can be long and effort-intensive with many meetings, review of detailed documentation, etc. By leveraging cooperative agreements, governments can save this time and effort.”
Michael Keating is senior editor for American City & County. Contact him at [email protected].