~ 5 MIN READ
Government Digital Transformation
If your government isn’t considering undertaking a digital transformation soon, it should be—here’s why.
At ClearPoint, we talk to local government employees every day, all of whom are doing their best to anticipate and plan for the future of their towns and cities. Whether or not they already have a documented strategic plan in place, nearly all of them have expressed the desire to be more efficient as an organization and more effective in serving the public good.
Many for-profit organizations have the same aspirations (with regard to serving their customers), and some have already begun adopting new technologies and workflows to improve in these areas. The outcomes they’re seeing, including better customer experiences and new insights gained from consolidating company data, make a strong case for what’s being referred to as digital transformation—the concept of fundamentally changing processes and services by adopting and integrating new technology.
Can technology have the same impact in the public sector? Absolutely. As a software company that serves both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, we’ve seen many local governments improve their services as a result of redefining processes and practices. (For many governments, COVID-19 has accelerated the need for more strategic thinking around how services are provided.) If you’re still unsure about what a government digital transformation can do for your town or city, take a look at the three benefits we see most commonly listed below.
Does your city’s strategic plan include the need for digital transformation? See if it’s missing any of the other eight key elements described here.
3 Reasons To Pursue Government Digital Transformation
1. Improve your quality of service.
It can be a challenge for local governments to meet public expectations for customer experience, considering many of the top-notch interactions customers have regularly with for-profit companies. Government agencies struggle with inconsistent experiences, complex processes, lack of transparency, and failing or buggy technology, which can lead to negative experiences and poor impressions on agencies’ effectiveness.
Choosing and implementing the appropriate technologies can go a long way toward providing smoother service and greater transparency. For example:
- To enhance public safety and convenience, move common processes online rather than requiring in-person visits. Automating simple forms and processes—for instance, basic car registration renewals—frees government employees to focus on high-value tasks. In the case of car registrations, an automation solution can handle standard renewals while your employees assist residents in resolving more complex issues, like transferring a car registration to a different county and then selling the vehicle to a family member.
- Creating digital communication channels for your residents will also greatly increase your quality of service. An increasing number of people would prefer to email or text problems and questions rather than wait in line to ask someone. Staffing for digital responses will greatly increase your perceived quality of service, and, using resources available online, you can create automated responses that point people in the right direction. 311 systems, some of which are now being upgraded, allow citizens to ask questions and report issues using technology. That’s just one example of the kinds of solutions that are now making it easier for residents to interact with their city and county governments.
2. Save time on internal processes.
If your town or city is growing, the systems you use should grow, too. You can’t expect to continue doing things the same way for years and still remain efficient. While sticking with your manual processes—re-entering data in multiple systems multiple times, for example, or running basic calculations—might seem like the best option, outdated processes and systems actually consume a considerable amount of time and effort, and present more opportunities for mistakes.
Many manual processes can—and should—be automated for efficiency. Automation reduces the cost per transaction, increases productivity, and improves response time. For example, when one government agency implemented a new transportation management system that automatically emailed companies for documentation signatures, overall processing time went from one month to just 14 days.
There are tools that allow you to leverage workflows digitally so paperwork isn’t sitting in literal boxes waiting for the next step; it is sent digitally to the next department for the next process. If your organization has lean or Six Sigma teams, have them focus on areas where small technology investments might reap great rewards in efficiency.
3. Promote strategy planning and execution.
Governments tend to be compartmentalized, and they do a lot of reporting. Many reports use the same baseline data (or denominator), such as the number of citizens or number of employees to track ratios, combined with specific departmental data for purposes of the report. (How are you tracking residents: taxpayers, families, families with children, commuters, retirees, or something else?) They also have to track budgets, projects, and performance data—information that lives all over the organization. Between emailing departments, formulating responses, adjusting calculations, and transferring everything from email and spreadsheets into a reporting environment, no wonder it takes upwards of 40 hours to produce a quality monthly report. Rinse, wash, and repeat every month—for every department and every type of report—and you have a lot of time wasted, and few insights that can actually help your government improve.
Digital transformation in the public sector is just as beneficial for strategy planning and execution as it is for private businesses. Unified software systems can integrate data from various sources and platforms, giving leaders and department managers access to bigger-picture insights about how departments are functioning as part of the whole. Imagine leveraging common source data with calculations and evaluations built in. When diffuse information is more accessible by everyone across an organization, it promotes collaboration and communication, as well as more meaningful participation in pursuing organizational goals. Investments in automating your reporting process can have immediate paybacks regarding time saved, while also increasing the quality of reports and speeding the execution of strategy.
Going digital also allows you to report on strategic progress to your residents, who want to be informed about the steps you’re taking to improve. Now it’s easier than ever to make information about government goals and activities available to the public with an online dashboard. For example, if you had a goal to expand bicycle routes throughout the city, how much have you accomplished as of this month? Your dashboard can automatically update based on the latest data. Being open about your progress shows you’re taking accountability, and builds trust.
Creating Value With Technology
Simply buying lots of new technology won’t do much to change your organization other than create more complications. Government digital transformation is really about rethinking your business processes and searching for opportunities to improve.
At ClearPoint, we’ve helped numerous local governments to modernize and streamline their strategy planning and execution processes. Here’s how a few are using our software to become more efficient and effective public service organizations:
- Durham, North Carolina uses it to support a robust strategic plan that has enhanced communication and collaboration between the city and county, and improved communication with residents. It has in recent years been named a “Citizen Engaged Community” for its use of technology to engage residents.
- Fort Collins, Colorado uses it to align programs and services with its strategic objectives, and track meaningful metrics. Its efforts have ensured that they continue to achieve steady progress toward goals.
- Germantown, Tennessee uses it to plan and execute its vision for the future, and stay accountable to residents. It created a public-facing dashboard (updated automatically by ClearPoint) allowing residents to see how well the city is progressing toward its goals.
Digital transformation has to start somewhere—starting with strategy puts your focus on the future. To find out more about how ClearPoint can become part of your government digital transformation, sign-up for a 15-minute tour.