Three Examples Of How Workflow Automation Improved Local Government
Think of municipal government, and you probably think of red tape, paperwork and inefficiency. But that’s not the full story. There are plenty of examples of local governments that have changed their workflows by digitizing or automating their processes—and thus changed the way they operate.
These cities and towns are turning to workflow automation solutions to save money, increase productivity, secure data and improve customer service.
These changes are coming none too soon. A 2013 International Data Corporation (IDC) survey found that 58 percent of processes that served constituents and 46 percent of internal processes in government used paper forms.
The survey also showed that government was lagging behind the private sector, with only 36 percent of respondents believing that their workflow was effective and efficient, versus 52 percent in private industry.
That same study found that if those government offices could implement better workflow management, they could reduce their costs for certain services by up to 9 percent.
Transforming your office doesn’t have to be hard. One of the easiest ways to do this is to invest in technologies like multifunctional printers and copiers from companies like Kyocera, document solutions tools, and other workflow automation software. These technologies won’t just speed up your workflow process, but will also allow you to manage your data security and privacy more effectively. But there are other ways, too.
Here are three local governments that are leading the workflow transformation revolution.
1. Cape Coral, Fla.
There’s good reason Cape Coral won the annual Center for Digital Government (CDG) 2017 Digital Cities Survey award for towns with populations between 125,000 and 249,999. The city has been making major inroads in automation and security over the last few years.
In fact, workflow transformation is a key aspect of the city’s strategic priorities. Cape Coral is working hard to transform the way the municipality does business by increasing productivity through technology, deploying mobile applications to make city systems more accessible, and digitizing more processes to increase security. IT staff works one-on-one with each department to find technological solutions to optimize and automate departmental tasks.
What have these efforts meant for workflow and constituent access? The city has developed electronic systems for, among other things, submitting applications for permits, paying business taxes, submitting requests to its 311 Call Center, scheduling permit inspections, looking up liens and submitting complaints to the police. Currently, citizens can apply online for 87 percent of all local permits.
The city has also enabled online requests for proposals and moved their job postings and applications process online.
These changes don’t just mean that citizens no longer have to go into city hall and wait in line to get a permit. They’ve also streamlined workflow for the municipality—and saved time for all.
The most inspiring thing about Cape Coral, however, might be that it isn’t done improving things. The city continues to seek out new programs and applications to simplify workflow and improve access to services.
2. Albuquerque, N.M.
The central tenet at the heart of Albuquerque’s transformation is the concept of “city-as-a-service,” an increasingly influential model in which key municipal services are delivered via a digital platform. That thinking has driven the city’s government body to embrace open data and to champion efforts to make its services and processes more accessible for citizens.
IT employees are creating a range of apps as part of Albuquerque’s mission to make every city service available online, including on mobile. In many cases—such as applications for permits, licenses and business registrations—online or mobile-interface options are already available.
Albuquerque’s municipal government wants its processes to work for residents, but its forward-thinking tech strategies have also streamlined workflow and reduced paperwork for employees. In addition, safety is on the rise: The city has launched a police app that lets citizens file police reports and chat in real time with its Crime Center—an initiative that has reduced calls to 911 and allowed more efficient responses to emergencies.
3. Santa Monica, Calif.
Santa Monica has turned transforming its workflow into a competition. The city hosts Hack the Beach, a civic coding competition in which companies and individuals are encouraged to create tools to help the city improve efficiency and boost sustainability by reducing paper-based workflows and adopting more digital processes.
One winning competition entry involved digitizing Santa Monica’s transportation management plans. Certain city businesses are required to create plans in order to reduce solo commuting by their employees during peak hours. In the past, those companies had to fill out a PDF, which often involved significant back and forth with businesses over email or the phone.
Since digitizing the process, the median processing time has fallen from one month to just 14 days—a decrease of over 50 percent. The system automatically emails companies if a signature is required and then follows up if they haven’t yet signed.
This system has also ensured that transportation management plan data is easy to access and to use for future planning purposes.
The city has plans to streamline other programs, such as its community mini-grants, using the same platform. One great benefit of having a hackathon as a stimulus for workflow optimization is that it helps local businesses: City Grows, the company that won the initial Hack the Beach competition in 2016, used the hackathon to complete its platform and to create a real world case study to demonstrate the platform’s effectiveness.
Civic Governments Are Inspiring Innovation
While all levels of government still have a long way to go in automating, optimizing their workflow processes, and improving their data security, these three case studies provide an exciting look at what’s possible. Their successes should encourage other local governments to up their games.
Originally published on Forbes Kyocera Brand Voice.