The term “integration” can often hold several different meanings when it comes to technology. Whether the integration is flat file (file-based), single direction or bidirectional, organizations looking to integrate their technology systems typically share common goals: achieving genuine business transformation, more streamlined service and greater employee satisfaction. The public sector is no different. Through integration of finance platforms and asset management systems, local governments can be on the path to true organizational transformation that benefits their citizens and employees and ensures longevity of finances and assets.
Real-time, real-world problems stemming from lack of financial integration
Lack of true integration between finance and asset management solutions lead to several challenges for municipalities. The following short-term pain points have the potential to grow into long-term crises if left unaddressed:
- Poor data integrity – Poor data integrity represents a consistent problem, materializing in the event of a wrong account code used to track costs on a work order. Lack of integration means more time spent on non-value add activities, such as duplicate data entry and lost time.
- Disjointed decision making – When information is siloed and disjointed, gaining visibility into total cost of ownership of assets is difficult. This leads to disjointed decision making, requiring more reconciliation time. Slower decisions and actions on things like maintenance and repairs – where any lost time means higher costs – disrupt operations and potentially damage the integrity of a municipality’s infrastructure and systems.
- Lower employee productivity – As a general rule, more labor intensive processes mean higher risk that something will go wrong. Factors such as disjointed decision making and duplicate data entry all contribute to more total labor needed for routine actions. Lack of integration leads to lower employee productivity due to wait times and bottlenecks between the activities and steps employees take to integrate and reconcile.
How true financial integration alleviates those pain points
By properly integrating finance and asset management solutions, municipalities gain invaluable visibility into their finances. The need for manual or duplicate entry between both systems is nearly eliminated as integration leads to synergy between systems in real time, particularly for critical business items like work order costs. Having integrated work orders helps link inventory levels to planned maintenance and activities to optimize investments in warehouse stores. More intelligent, streamlined decisions are then made possible since all personnel are looking at the same system of data.
When it comes to the assets themselves, analytics from integration enable better trend tracking with real-time reporting and dashboards for decision support. A single view into project tracking, asset utilization and maintenance records allows for assets to be more optimally used and maintained, preventing future emergencies.
True integration between finance and asset management systems also increases data accuracy, with data entry becoming easier. Personnel no longer have to remember or worry about accidentally mistyping or entering an incorrect account code.
Coming trends that will require cities to have true financial integration
Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics will play a more important role for cities in the future. Integrating these asset tools into finance systems will determine the success of a city as it moves toward greater and more complex use of technology. Government agencies will continue to be asked to do more with less, so they will need to find ways to improve efficiency across all of their operations. With governments having such large infrastructure investments and inventory, it will remain critical that they maintain and leverage these investments through smart technology integration.