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What does this mean?

A New Look at Modernizing Finance

Government finance organizations are under tremendous pressure to modernize operations and deliver greater insights from data, faster.

In this Q&A, Geoffrey Plante, a partner in the KPMG LLP government finance transformation practice, discusses the challenges of modernization and how finance teams can successfully navigate this effort.

What are the biggest challenges facing government finance organizations now?

The need for modernization was made clear for government finance functions during the COVID-19 pandemic and it will persist as a top priority moving forward. As the pandemic continues to create fiscal uncertainty, finance functions, often one of the first at risk for spending cuts, are challenged with operating more efficiently than ever before. The current influx of federal funding is providing needed relief but requires that finance be nimble to meet tight timelines and have the systems, controls and people in place to maximize value from the funding.

At the same time, the retirement of longtime employees and reduced hiring overall have created a lack of bench strength and “brain drain” in many finance functions. Modernization is critical to sustain and improve finance operations moving forward.

How has modern technology become more important for finance agencies?

Data is number one for finance functions. Finance teams are looking for access to the latest data, delivered in real time, to provide greater insights to agencies and constituents — faster — to drive financial performance and strategic value. The cloud has matured and we’re seeing modern finance functions moving systems to the cloud to achieve the data insights, agility, security, transparency and speed they need — and to facilitate effective remote collaboration in today’s new way of working.

How has the pandemic changed the conversation around transformation?

The pandemic generated demand for rapid deployment of digital solutions, building expectations for tools that can address problems quickly and be improved along the way, with more frequent updates post-deployment. With digital transformation accelerating, those expectations and the practice of quickly deploying needed tools, then improving them over time with additional releases will continue. It is markedly different from the traditional government deployment approach, which holds implementation until a solution is much more mature. That approach simply isn’t feasible or cost effective anymore.

How will finance agencies maintain momentum around modernization?

The labor market will be a big driver for maintaining the momentum of finance modernization efforts. To attract and retain talent with the latest digital skills, finance organizations will need to work to meet evolving employee expectations, from remote and flexible work arrangements, to enhanced training opportunities, to more enabling technologies and more. A key example is support for continued remote work, which will help governments recruit employees they may not have been able to attract before.

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