Two Takes: Doing More with Less

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I had the opportunity to sit in on two presentations yesterday that ran back-to-back and seemed to provide a complementary message to SAS users in government and public service. It gave me the idea to post a few comments on both.

Ben Zenick, Doing More with Less
Ben Zenick, the vice president of consulting services and co-founder of Zencos, talked to SAS users about Doing More with Less. He has a deep background in both public sector and technology, so he had a particular commitment to this topic.

”I wanted to provide SAS users in the public sector with innovative options for utilizing technology to increase the level of customer and constituent satisfaction, create jobs and manage and monitor policies, while having access to fewer resources, less money, and more regulation,” Zenick said. “Of course changes to the economy that have occurred since I was invited to present have put more emphasis on the concept of "Doing More with Less."

According to Zenick, now is a great opportunity to invest in technology. “A lot of the money from the stimulus bill will be appropriated to technology spending projects,” he said. “There are a lot of ways for users of SAS to truly make a difference in what we would all consider trying times. Analytics have opened the door to make very big impacts in the economy and the service you provide. The time to make a difference with technology is now.”

What are public sector pains?
According to Zenick’s research, total budget shortfalls for US states are projected to exceed US$145 billion by 2010. But the states’ remedies – reducing services, increasing taxes, etc. – only reduces demand and worsens the economic picture. Zenick hopes to stem this worsening landscape by offering the idea of using analytics technology to reduce cost and increase revenue opportunities.

Fraud, waste and abuse in healthcare claims: As of 2007, approximately 20 percent of each state’s budget goes to Medicaid program costs. Within that 20 percent is approximately 10 percent that is related to improper payments which could include fraud . Opportunity to use analytics to find potentially suspect claims before you pay.

Increase tax revenue collection through increased efficiencies: Analytics helps identify those who have a propensity to pay after a mistake has been made, identifies more accurate collection methods and forecasts future revenues.

Increase economic development efforts: Analytics reduces time spent collecting, compiling and searching for data. The technology also allows developers to proactively recruit firms by providing workforce demographics and available properties.

Zenick summed it up with a few words: “How do you make sure that you have the resources in the right place at the right time?” he posed. “These are all examples of using analytics for resource allocation – Doing More with Less. Analytics is an extremely important factor in reducing cost and increasing revenue.”

Jonathan Hornby, SAS Response: Doing More with Less.
Jonathan Hornby, Director of Worldwide Marketing at SAS, provided the second presentation in the two-parter - SAS Response: Doing More with Less. He tackled analytics product areas where government and public services could focus their energies: cost, strategy and human capital.

“These are solutions that help an organization understand how value flows and how resources get consumed,” said Hornby.

Strategy: Why is execution so low?
According to Hornby, developing a strategy at the executive level is only a small part of effective execution of a strategy. Today, there is an abundance of data. The problem lies in knowing what to do with it. During his research with some of the world’s sharpest minds, Hornby found that the first step to an effective organizational strategy focusing on Doing More with Less would be a plan for analyzing and using the data.

“It’s all about communication and understanding how metrics, objectives and goals are connected,” Horny said. “Do they correlate? Do they tell the story of how your organization needs to act?”

According to Hornby, too many organizations pick metrics and objectives that don’t move the dials. And often, organizations track far too many metrics, which rob individuals of time as they try to decipher them. All of this comes at great cost, which leads to the next section.

Cost: What is the pain?
The first step is to understand what things cost. SAS® Profitability Management does that, and for commercial organizations, it calculates profit too.

“Less than 50 percent of executives understand what drives cost, profit and value,” said Hornby. “That is the result of a March 2007, Business Week survey. If that’s true, there is much room for improvement, especially now that we are doing more with less.”

Hornby pointed out that there are many ways to cut cost without cutting bone – cuts across the board that have unintended consequences. Analytics can help organizations see waste in productivity and allow companies to get the maximum value moving forward.

Once you can “see” the cost to provide a service – either in aggregate or for a specific transaction – the next step is to understand why. That’s where SAS Activity Based Management comes in. It provides a great environment to model how cost, profit and value flows through an organization. With this knowledge, organizations can identify bottlenecks or areas ripe for improvement, unlocking vast sums of money.

People: Why worry?
According to a 2007 study by Deloitte, 39 percent of those surveyed believe they are hiring the right people for government or public service jobs. That’s even with the rigorous hiring processes in place. Further research shows that 58 percent of the workforce will be eligible for retirement in 2010 and 71 percent of those are senior executives.

According to Hornby, analytics can help organizations anticipate and map the skills gaps they are facing through attrition from retirement and churn. SAS® Human Capital Intelligence can help manage and alighn your workforce strategically.

Wrapping it up
Finally, Hornby shared a strategy/brainstorming tool. “I am currently working with Joel Barker using his ‘strategic implications wheel’ to help President Obama think through the cascade of consequences for all the regulations and stimulus plans,” said Hornby “It’s much like brainstorming. Set up an idea that you think is going to work and then bring in a crowd. Ask everyone to think of one positive and one negative implication. Then, as a group, repeat the process one more time for each of those ideas. You’ll see that there is a range of possibilities.”

For more ideas on how government and public service can do more with less, www.sas.com/economy.

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Waynette Tubbs

Editor, Marketing Editorial

+Waynette Tubbs is the Editor of the Risk Management Knowledge Exchange at SAS, Managing Editor of sascom Magazine and Editor of the SAS Tech Report. Tubbs has developed a comprehensive portfolio of strategic business and marketing communications during her career spanning 15 years of magazine, marketing and agency work.

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