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Thinking of nimble and innovative organizations, local governments rarely come to mind.
Darren Koch, chief product officer of the SMB Team at SAP, and his group at the German business software giant, are looking to change that. Sure, "the complexity of government agencies is really high," he said, but that shouldn't keep the IT industry from altering the perception that municipalities and local government offices can't keep up with the demands of their increasingly mobile- and tech-savvy constituencies and workforces.
In that spirit, SAP unveiled new public sector functionality in Business ByDesign, the cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for midmarket organizations, Koch stressed that SAP didn't merely slap the public sector label on existing functionality. Rather, his team built on the company's "really strong investment in verticalization [and] in industry expertise," to develop a solution that meets the unique needs of government entities.
For example, the solution supports encumbrance accounting, which differs in the way most private sector companies balance their books by recording anticipated liabilities before the expenditures are made, helping to prevent overspending down the line and improve planning. It also supports the Governmental Accounting Standards Board's (GASB) guidelines used by local and state governments for fund enablement, reporting and budgeting.
Moreover, SAP Business ByDesign for public sector organizations lays bare the effects of city hall's financial and management decisions on local communities, providing local governments with "an unprecedented level of transparency," Koch said.
For some, this added transparency into business processes and provided by the product's business intelligence and built-in analytics capabilities is an eye-opener. "They're shocked at where their resources are going" before finding better and more efficient ways of spending their tax dollars, he added.
"Our public sector customers have shared that they need solutions that will empower them to receive accurate, timely and overall better business information, so they can improve their decision making and agility, and best serve the community,” said Elizabeth McGowan, Global Cloud Strategy Lead of Public Services at SAP, in a statement. "However, because they typically work with such scarce funding and limited resources, many have delayed modernizing their IT environments.
SAP Business ByDesign can help them get with the times while capitalizing on the cost-savings and security-enhancing benefits of the cloud. And there's little chance that government customers will fall behind, considering that product updates arrive in step with the company's accelerated cloud software release cycles, or "continuous innovation" as SAP describes it. Meanwhile, government workers can use the solution's mobile-friendly interfaces to remain productive and engaged when they're not sitting behind a desk.
For SAP's SMB unit, the public sector represents $1 billion potential growth opportunity and exemplifies the group's "big investments on go-to-market and innovation," Koch said.
SAP is demonstrating Business ByDesign's new public sector functionality at this week's Government Finance Officer Association (GFOA) Annual Conference in Denver, Colo. through May 24.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.