What is ERP?
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is an overarching system or set of systems used for back-office applications to manage day-to-day projects. ERP systems include accounting, planning, supply chain management, human resource management, project management, risk management, and many other tasks.
Why The Entire Government is Overhauling Their ERP Systems
Federal, state, and local governments have been using the same ERP legacy system for decades. Old systems are laborious to work with and difficult to train new employees with their obsolete coding and clunky UI. In fact, the one of the programming languages still widely used, COBOL, was written in the 1959! COBOL started its decline of use in the 1980s and now the government struggles to find programmers who know the language. It has come up in recent news with COVID-19 as multiple states’ unemployment systems went down with the dramatic increase in applications, and they could not find people to fix it.
In 2016, the Federal Government recognized the need to modernize, and set aside funds requiring all departments, down to state and local levels, to update their systems. The pandemic caused several departments to delay their update timelines, while others saw the ill effects of their legacy system and have been successful at completing an update during this critical time.
This is and has been an expensive, labor intensive endeavor. The average overhaul is estimated to take 6 to 9 months, but Tamarac, Florida has been working on the process for four yearss. However, the benefits of modernization will be well worth it in the long run. These systems are more user friendly, require less time to train people, break less often, and function more accurately.
To appropriately convert the systems, the modernization project needs to be structured in phases rather than in a single overhaul. Since every governmental department touches ERP – welfare, women and child services, unemployment, personnel management, etc. – a large-scale conversion could create a huge collapse if many errors all need fixing at once. Instead, each system should be individually transitioned one at a time.
Where Does AI/ML Fit into These New Systems?
As you implement a new ERP system, your team will work more efficiently than the legacy system allowed. These updated systems are also designed with agile, open architecture structures that are customization to meet your specific use cases. For example, there are plenty of opportunities to incorporate Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) to automate repetitive tasks.
For example, the personnel management function comprises a collection of monotonous back-office tasks, especially in the military. There are recruitments, retirements, promotions, deployments, permanent changes of station (PCS), etc. Each of these changes requires a massive amount of paperwork to be created, updated, and individually reviewed. These personnel changes are not the responsibility of a single team, they need to be coordinated across a multitude of back-office teams – legal, accounting, HR, and more – to ensure continuity of government. The ERP system keeps the repository of these elements, but people then need to sort through the system for each piece of data before beginning the email triage process. Difficulty in locating data and correcting errors causes time delays and excess allocation of resources (i.e., money wasted).
Implementing this process touches everyone, not only back-office employees. Big changes, such as deployment, are stressful enough for families. The AI model shoulders the burden of ensuring everything is in order and properly reviewed.
For personnel management, AI would know which corresponding paperwork to pull based on each individual personnel action use case, execute the prescribed updates, and provide it to the appropriate human reviewer (Human-in-the-Loop – HITL – as we call it). The AI models also include an automated anomaly detection system that scans for missing paperwork and other discrepancies, alerting the proper team member to mitigate points of failure early.
Implementing an AI/ML model into this process can increase both efficiency and accuracy, not only giving back-office employees more time for important tasks, but also giving the service members and their families the peace of mind that their personnel action is being carried out expeditiously.
Though the example given focused on military personnel, this simple AI automation process is applicable across all government agencies as employment changes affect every sector.
Figure Eight Federal’s Role in ERP Modernization
Our specific focus is not on overhauling the full ERP system, rather, we leverage AI to automate various repetitive processes to increase your overall precision, speed, and quality. Each AI model is deliberately designed to focus on specific components of your ERP system increasing cost effectiveness and ensuring the highest quality data management. A new ERP system will not necessarily eliminate the large repository of paperwork employees deal with. When teamed with Figure Eight Federal AI models, a custom solution helps you manage your ERP, freeing up your team to focus on more complex missions.
Schedule a demo today to explore where your team’s ERP system can be streamlined.