Many state and local government and higher education legacy systems are still powered by mainframes and other on-premise systems. Leaders are familiar with the associated challenges. These old systems are known for being inflexible and expensive to maintain. Finding programmers for the required languages gets harder – and costlier – every year. In many cases, these systems function like technology speed bumps, slowing progress toward full digital transformation.

Yet somehow governments and schools have kept their old workhorses running well enough to support their business processes – until the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, inefficient, inflexible mainframes have become more than a nuisance or a long-term to-do. Suddenly they have emerged as a risk to employee health and safety. That’s because extended stay-at-home orders forced government agencies and colleges and universities to pivot quickly to remote operations.

From processing payroll and managing finance for internal operations to handling child support, cash assistance and unemployment benefits for citizens or scheduling and financial aid support for students, organizations had to find solutions – fast.

Many found effective workarounds. But in cases where legacy systems proved incapable of enabling work-from-home models, some employees had to be brought back into offices – putting these workers at greater risk of COVID-19.

I have spent years explaining the benefits of IT modernization to state and local government agencies as well as higher education institutions. It turns out that a global pandemic has made the case even stronger. These organizations are now moving ahead, as evidenced by the scale and pace at which they are asking for help adopting modern platforms.

While COVID-19 may be a forcing function, moving to a cloud-based system makes sense all the time – not just during a crisis. Workday has been built from the ground up with modern technology on a mobile framework. It’s designed to be dynamic – and to be so effective at supporting rapid, efficient change that it has no “end of life.” And unlike legacy systems, Workday is built on a foundation of business, not IT, processes that can be easily modified as needs evolve.

While legacy systems might be inadvertently fueling health and safety risks, a cloud-based solution makes it possible to provide reliable, secure access when and where it’s needed. So state and local governments and higher education institutions alike can be faster, more responsive and more adaptable as new opportunities and challenges arise.

Above all, investing in a new, modern ERP is critical to supporting a remote workforce today – and in the future.

In upcoming posts, I’ll share more about some of the benefits cities, counties, states and schools are already realizing through the shift to modernizing legacy systems.

 Let’s continue the conversation. Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and stay tuned for upcoming blogs. Learn more about Accenture’s Education & Government Workday offerings.

Ryan Gaetz

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

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