As shared services and commercial cloud providers contribute to reduced duplicative costs and redundant systems across shared functions—such as financial management or human resources—agency leaders are also using integrated financial, acquisition and budget systems environments to benefit the agency bottom line and improve the customer experience.
This integrated back office is an important precursor to offering quality shared services, and has value of its own even where shared services are not involved.
While the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) has energized the federal community to step up efforts to implement shared services through Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal 5: Sharing Quality Services, the integration of the back office is another consideration agency leaders are tackling given that the benefits are hard to ignore. Streamlining administrative operations benefits all of the parties concerned.
To formalize the importance of shared services, OMB, in collaboration with the CAP Goal team, released M-19-16, Centralized Mission Support Capabilities for the Federal Government. The memo, published April 26, 2019, establishes the new model for identifying, planning, and operating government-wide shared services.
The value of the integrated back office
To improve efficiencies when running their own back office operations—federal agencies or other organizations should develop an enterprise integrated back office. By eliminating redundancies, administering the operation through a single integrated solution and adding automation where practical, agencies are aligned with the three key drivers of transformation as identified in the PMA:
- IT modernization
- Data accountability and transparency
- People—Workforce of the future
Aligning modern information technology helps government agencies meet customer expectations and keep data and systems secure in the digital age. More critically, it allows the workforce to move away from old-school data entry and focus on advanced financial and technology analysis through robotic process automation (RPA) that can take over rote tasks.
The integrated back office also makes it easier for agencies to provide self-service portals, which addresses PMA CAP Goal 4: Improving Customer Experience with Federal Services. The customer experience challenge is also ongoing within agencies between back-office operations and employees delivering programs to our citizens. Financial operations are delivering on web-based financial systems to meet mobility demands of staff and IT offices are moving to secure clouds and shared platforms that ensure connected operations no matter the time or place.
Access to data for decision making for IT investments, program operations and grant awards is pivotal for agency operations. The Federal Data Strategy principles and practices issued in June focus on data as a strategic asset. The overarching goal is to drive enterprise data governance. IT investments are enabling agencies to fulfill this goal, and streamlined administrative operations are giving way to focusing on using data to transform how and when agencies can share data with the public and facilitate the use of data to drive innovation and commercial purposes.
The rise of cloud computing within the once-reluctant federal government has made shared services even easier to implement. Federal Shared Service Providers (FSSPs) are allowing commercial cloud providers to have direct access to their customers, shifting the technology maintenance even further away from agencies and onto third-party providers.
Why we do it
People have been and will continue to be at the heart of public service. Implementing integrated operations frees an agency’s employees to focus on program management and delivery for their mission, rather than on maintaining and operating back-office systems. A nimble and agile management of the workforce, including reskilling and redeploying existing workers to keep pace with the current pace of change, is key to an efficient and effective government.
Delivering federal programs and services to fellow citizens has always been at the heart of why people serve in the federal government and likewise why industry supports these efforts. Government-wide shared services continue to demonstrate value across agencies. To find out more about CGI Federal’s expertise in quality shared services, including delivering shared financial management through CGI’s Momentum® Financials, download our brochure, “Momentum at a Glance.”
About this author
Vice President, Consulting Services
Since joining CGI in 2000, Ms. Patel has served in a variety of roles managing P&L operations and leading CGI initiatives in software development organizations and global business systems implementations for federal government customers. Her primary focus areas include the federal government market, ...