Public sector budgeting: top 3 areas to invest your remaining budget in | OnActuate
 In A-Public Sector, Trending Insights

It’s that time of year again! No, we’re not talking about the holiday season. We’re talking about the time when public sector organizations re-evaluate their budgets, evaluate what is remaining, and start planning for next year. If you do happen to have some surplus budget this year, what should the organization invest in?  

Overspending vs. Underspending 

When a public sector organization overspends its budget, it is often due to underestimating needed costs, political-related spending that wasn’t accounted for, or emergency spending for unexpected current events. Depending on the needs of the organization, sometimes overspending can be seen as positive if the outcome benefited the citizens greatly. It could prove that the organization needed a higher budget originally, and there could be an increase in the budget for the next fiscal year. However, if the overspending is due to mismanagement or bad planning, public perception of the organization could be affected negatively. Low public support could lead to a cut in the budget next fiscal, or an audit of current spending. 

When a public sector organization underspends, it generally has to find ways to spend the remaining budget or risk losing the funds for next year. Underspending might seem positive because it could mean the organization found ways to save money or found efficiencies to improve operations. However, underspending could also mean poor or late delivery of essential government services, which could impact citizens. Often the work of public sector organizations affects and depends on other public sector organizations as well. If one organization underspends, it could negatively affect the operations of another organization that services the same group of citizens. Underspending can also affect the budget for subsequent years, as budgets usually look at historical spending to provide a benchmark for how much the organization needs for the next fiscal year.  

For more helpful tips on how to modernize the budgeting process, read OnActuate’s blog “Using Technology to Rethink the Budgeting Process in the Public Sector.” 

If there is a surplus found in the budget and it needs to be spent before the end of the fiscal year, here are three areas your public sector organization should consider investing in. 

  1. Invest in Technology

One of the most impactful investments any organization can make, whether it is public, private, for profit or not-for-profit, is in technology. 

Technology that provides useful functionality, meets operational requirements, and enhances the day-to-day of the organization and its employees is always a smart investment. 

Some organizations are still operating with on-premises technology instead of utilizing cloud technology. This can cause problems as most on-prem technology is not easily accessible, difficult to update, and the data is not easily transferrable. A digital transformation from on-prem to cloud technology like Microsoft Azure, can vastly change operations for the better. 

A digital transformation doesn’t just mean upgrading one single piece of the puzzle, but rather bringing all technology and functionality together under one unified platform. Many organizations who are not on the cloud use a combination of one main platform, some extensions, third-party solutions, Microsoft Word or Excel, and traditional paper to record finances, data, customer profiles and more. This complicated web of different on-prem technology can be difficult to manage. Often, the different platforms don’t speak to one another, causing problems in keeping track of changes. 

Of course, digital transformations take time. Don’t expect a quick fix, especially for larger, more complex organizations. A partner like OnActuate will work with the organization to discover pain points and how to address them with new technology, while working within a set, manageable timeframe. We recommend spending the remaining budget for the fiscal year to start on the analysis and design phase of the digital transformation, then allocate a portion of next year’s budget to develop, train, and deploy the new technology. OnActuate’s process-centric approach will guide the project along to ensure the digital transformation runs smoothly from beginning to end. 

Technology that modernizes the organization can improve workflow, security, and reduce time and stress. The overall outcome is a better-run organization, which could lead to higher public support. 

Discover how OnActuate helps other public sector organizations like the City of Columbus on digital transformation projects. 

  1. Invest in People

Investing in people is one of the smartest decisions a public sector organization can make. By investing in people, you can improve the speed and delivery of services. 

Investing in people could mean several different things. It could mean hiring more employees. It could mean offering more professional development opportunities for current employees. It could mean recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts. 

Investing in people contributes to the workplace culture, reduces stress and the risk of burnout, and overall makes employees happy. In 2022, the quiet quitting trend was prominent and although it had nothing to do with actual quitting, employee dissatisfaction could lead them to find another job. With the already limited resources the public sector must deal with, losing employees could be damaging and negatively affect the delivery of services. 

Read more about the quiet quitting trend and the astonishing findings from Ceridian’s 2022 Pulse on Talent report. 

Tying in with the first area of investment, the public sector can invest in technology that better manages and serves your people. Human capital management (HCM) technology is the future of human resources technology. Not only can HCM provide core HR and payroll capabilities, but it can manage the hiring, deploying, and developing of new and current employees. 

Ceridian’s Dayforce platform is a purpose-built HCM solution that allows employees to access tools and resources for their own career growth. Employees can use Dayforce to track professional development, view new opportunities for advancement and read announcements from their managers and the organization. Dayforce can also be used for the hiring process, allowing the organization to invest in new employees. 

The public sector was created by people to serve people, and by putting people first, you end up with an organization that humanizes their services. OnActuate is a people-first company that cares about finding the human element in our work. Learn more about OnActuate by exploring our values and how we can help you invest in your people. 

  1. Invest in Branding

Public perception of any organization is important, especially for the public sector since funding is tied to taxes and municipal services. 

Investing in the brand of the organization can positively boost not only public perception, but also employee morale and government stakeholder relations. It is all about building trust with the citizens. 

Branding isn’t just about nice logos and catchy slogans – it is a mix of external and internal activities that contribute to the overall brand. 

External branding 

Marketing and communications are key to changing or influencing public perception. By utilizing traditional, digital and social media ads, campaigns and messages, public sector organizations can promote their brand and create awareness. Often, citizens simply don’t know all that public sector organizations do. It is the job of the organization to put out messages on how it can help citizens and what kind of services it provides. 

We live in a world where social media is also very important for branding. It’s not simply about posting and sharing good news, but also utilizing social media to build the trust between the organization and the citizen. With the right tools, a public sector organization can be active on social media and build that trust. 

Managing social media and other digital activities like email campaigns can be time-consuming. However, Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help. As a marketing automation tool with a powerful customer engagement platform, any marketing or communications team would appreciate the social media scheduler, email builder and customer journey creator. With Dynamics 365, finance and administration teams aren’t the only department that will benefit from the digital transformation. 

Internal branding 

One aspect of branding that continues to grow in importance and popularity on social media, such as LinkedIn, is employer branding. According to Indeed, “Employer branding is the process of managing your reputation as an employer among current and potential employees. It represents your company’s reputation based on previous and current employee’s thoughts and opinions.” 

Employer branding is used to attract new talent by promoting the organization’s values and mission externally, so you can find like-minded potential employees. It’s an important part of external branding that must start internally. Job seekers are looking for organizations to apply for that not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. In fact, The Good Jobs asked job seekers where they turn to learn more about a company. The top five answers were: 

  1. Company’s career page 
  2. Google search 
  3. LinkedIn company profile 
  4. Glassdoor 
  5. Talk to current/former employees 

You may not be able to control what current and former employees say, what Google searches appear at the top, and how positive the Glassdoor reviews are, but you can put your values on your website, LinkedIn company profile, and Glassdoor page. You can post about the great initiatives, projects and events for employees and show job seekers what your brand is all about. With a well-rounded external branding strategy supported by the right technology (both for marketing and HCM), then you can increase worker engagement and a have a happy workforce that is proud to work for your organization. 

Finding the right partner 

The three investment ideas above will help any public sector organization better serve its citizens. However, all of them involve investing in some form of technology which can be difficult to do when you don’t have the right partner working with you. 

Look to OnActuate, a technology partner that studies your business goals and objectives inside and out to better understand your needs. You can choose to tackle one of the top three areas, or all three. With OnActuate’s help you will be able to utilize Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Ceridian’s Dayforce platforms to successfully execute a digital transformation. 

Contact OnActuate to find out more. 

Looking for more ideas on how to invest in technology? Discover the top five trends in the public sector for 2023. 

Our website uses cookies to personalize and enhance your experience and improve the delivery of information to you. By clicking "Accept", you agree to our use of cookies. Click “Learn more” to read our Privacy Policy