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When implementing ERP, governments must focus on public good

Governments and public agencies have different requirements and goals for implementing ERP than private companies, and they need to understand this before starting an ERP project.

ERP systems are intended to make organizations run more efficiently, yet they continue to be extremely challenging, complex and expensive to implement. On the surface, there seems to be little difference in the goals of any enterprise when implementing ERP systems, but the reality is that these goals can vary significantly from industry to industry.

Take the public and private sectors, for example. Public sector organizations such as state or municipal governments and agencies have different requirements and standards of success than private organizations, and they need to understand these differences before implementing ERP systems.

In this podcast, Vanessa Giacomin, managing partner at Panorama Consulting, a Denver-based firm that specializes in ERP implementations, explains the differences between public and private ERPs. Giacomin is the founder of Panorama's Government Solutions practice and has advised governments of all sizes around the world on how they can best implement ERP.

Vanessa Giacomin, managing partner, Panorama ConsultingVanessa Giacomin

"The challenge for state and municipal governments is not lowering the cost of how they operate an ERP, but how they increase the benefits for citizens," Giacomin says. "How do I interact with them? How do I show them the value they are getting from their tax dollar?" The automated processes that ERP systems can enable are some of the examples of this, including things like allowing citizens to register vehicles online, thereby eliminating long lines at the DMV.

The challenge for state and municipal governments is not lowering the cost of how they operate an ERP, but how they increase the benefits for citizens.
Vanessa Giacominmanaging partner, Panorama Consulting

Although the goals and approaches may be different, the public and private sectors face many of the same challenges and risks when implementing ERP, foremost among them change management, when an ERP system replaces outdated practices that have often been in place for decades. "You can have the most beautiful system, but if you don't have your requirements gathered correctly and your processes mapped out correctly, you're going to end up implementing a system wrong," Giacomin warns.

Many ERP vendors service the public sector, with bigger, more complex government organizations tending to favor the heavyweights such as SAP. Smaller municipalities are often better off selecting offerings from smaller vendors such as Tyler Technologies that tailor their products specifically for municipal governments. However, Giacomin says the best-of-breed approach, where several different systems are knit together, may be best suited to solve the complex needs of public sector enterprises.

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