It’s a difficult time to be leading state and local governments, school systems and institutions of higher education. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations of all kinds to quickly pivot to new ways of working, as I discussed in an earlier post. From adapting policies to standing up new cloud solutions, there’s been rapid progress in reshaping operations.

From my perspective, it has been a welcome acceleration to back office transformation. The pandemic has made change inevitable, as legacy systems and processes can’t keep pace with today’s needs.

Academic administrators need access to real-time data to make crucial decisions about whether and when to initiate in-person classes or to bring students back to campus housing. County and state leaders formulating 2021 infrastructure plans need to know how tax receipts are being impacted by the pandemic. Being able to conduct scenario planning is invaluable during times of disruption and uncertainty.

All the while, constituents need to be able to count on receiving benefits and supports for which they are eligible – something increasingly threatened by processing bottlenecks. They also have high expectations based on their experiences with commercial providers. Fast, convenient digital interactions have become table stakes.

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Add it up, and I believe we can safely say that back office transformation is no longer a matter of driving higher efficiency or reducing operating costs. It’s a matter of organizational survival.

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The good news? There’s a way to leverage short-term improvements – and possibly achieve rapid results –while laying the groundwork for long-term change and enduring outcomes. The key is a shift in mindset to imagine the art of the possible and rapidly adopt a new cloud-based platform.

This year numerous cities, states and schools have worked with Accenture to initiate their journeys and realized improvements very quickly. For example, the City and County of Denver has used the Workday platform to help accelerate recruiting and onboarding. They hired 85 people over a weekend, onboarded them on Monday and trained them on Tuesday and Wednesday. Academy School District 20 has also implemented Workday – and discovered how better technology helps attract (and retain) top talent. And through its use of Workday Supply Chain technology and reporting, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) was able to report on and track critical PPE for the hospital’s command center in the early months of COVID-19.

Other cities and counties are finding similar benefits around speed, transparency and real-time access to information. In the City of Vancouver (Washington), the city manager can now view and approve time-off requests using a mobile device. Employees of Placer County (California) can now access data without having to request special reports or complete a manual process – a huge benefit when working remotely. The City of Georgetown (Texas) fully completed its Workday Financials implementation remotely, with its Finance team now benefiting from the robust capabilities they can access no matter where they’re working.

These are only a few real-world examples of what’s possible when cities, counties, states and schools commit to back office transformation. It’s no longer a “CIO priority.” This is a priority for every leader who wants their organization to survive and continue meeting their mission during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

Let’s continue the conversation. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and stay tuned for upcoming blogs.


Disclaimer: This document is intended for general informational purposes only and does not take into account the reader’s specific circumstances and may not reflect the most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information in this presentation and for any acts or omissions made based on such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal counsel or other licensed professionals. This document may contain descriptive references to trademarks that may be owned by others. The use of such trademarks herein is not an assertion of ownership of such trademarks by Accenture and is not intended to represent or imply the existence of an association between Accenture and the lawful owners of such trademarks.

Ryan Gaetz

Managing Director - Consulting, Accenture Workday Education & Government​ Lead

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