Public sector executives are struggling with operational inefficiency while under pressure to improve service delivery to citizens. Business Intelligence (BI) can play a vital role in establishing, analysing and forecasting levels of spending, resource utilisation and service usage patterns so as to feed back information into decision processes for service improvement.
BI is based on using the information held by the administration – be it central, provincial or local government – to improve performance. Well-defined information searching and reporting systems will lead to a more efficient, business-like public sector.
Data does not automatically lead to intelligence, however, nor does technology. It’s important to develop an effective data management framework to deliver high quality, accurate and timely information and to improve the data shared between public sector organisations and their partners.
However, too many administrators still rely on planning and budgeting processes based on the circulation of marked-up spreadsheets and reports. This haphazard data collection results in flawed intelligence that can lead to incorrect conclusions and decisions that are way off the mark. What is needed is accurate record-keeping and sophisticated analysis and reporting of activities.
Ensuring data integrity is the first step. This involves putting the necessary information technology structures and rules in place to make sure that the company’s data is integrated, consistent and accurate. Consolidating disparate data sources and centralising data management is the only way to provide decision makers with ‘a single version of the truth’.
With complete and accurate data it becomes possible to formulate predictions and make well-informed decisions. A BI model can then be created to report on key performance indicators as defined in the business plan and ensure that delivery matches output targets within a small, defined variance. This enables executives to have a clear view of the performance of their department or of individual employees.