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Why Cash-Strapped State and Local Governments Need a Digital Transformation

June 8, 2017
It’s a tough challenge facing every jurisdiction in the country: with scarce financial resources and limited staff, citizens and businesses expect their day-to-day interactions with state and local government to be fast, efficient, transparent, and tech-enabled.

From a constituent’s point of view, it makes perfect sense for taxpayers’ dollars to deliver the same connectivity and customer experience they can find at their fingertips, whenever they search, shop, or reach out to friends and family online. Unfortunately, that expectation might not be so realistic when they try to transfer a car title, buy a business permit or license, or pay their water bill.

But there’s good news for government agencies on the near horizon. There’s never been a better time to turn to a new generation of digital services, powered by cloud computing and big data, to transform customer service while streamlining in-house operations.

Governments Want to Do Better

The biggest takeaway from Infor’s survey of state and local government employees, conducted in partnership with GovLoop, is that they want to get this right. Seventy percent of respondents indicated they interact with constituents frequently or at least once a week. So they have a first-hand view of what can be a cumbersome process, giving citizens the wrong picture of what government services can be.

They recognize the need for better constituent services.

They’ve connected the dots between service delivery and digital systems.

But they do not feel their organization has the resources necessary to make the digital transformation, and most of them don’t believe they have the authority or the pathway to lead the change.

That’s a problem, because government agencies, by their very nature, are service industries. Customer expectations are just as high for interacting with the government, regardless of whether agencies have limited resources.

An Investment that Pays for Itself

Agencies that have completed the shift to digital services find that the investment pays for itself many times over.

It puts up-to-date information in the hands of front-line personnel, enabling them to deliver a one-stop service to citizens and businesses.

It streamlines the flow of information, making the experience less stressful for staff and more pleasant and productive for constituents.

It relieves workloads by maximizing the use of self-serve kiosks and websites.

It meets the obligation on state and local governments to be accountable to constituents and supply consistent, accurate information.

Any avenue that will offload information tasks for employees will definitely be a benefit. If you provide the ability to intelligently interact with the government, it takes the burden off of employees and allows them to take care of other work.

Most important of all, a streamlined flow of information and government services earns citizens’ confidence and trust, showing them that their government can and does work for them.

Digital services help employees gain confidence that they’re providing the right answers, and customers don’t have to spend hours in line. Instead, you have a business-friendly environment that constituents can work with.

Getting from Here to There

If the transition were easy for every department and agency, it would already have been done. State and local governments face a host of challenges in their efforts to acquire digital services, from tight budgets, to limited digital skills, to misalignment between digital services and agency missions and a shortage of user-friendly digital portals.

But there’s every reason to think of those issues as a roadmap, rather than a roadblock: Because the prize, in the form of lower costs and satisfied users, will go to the organizations that do the best job of navigating a new landscape.

Government managers should build their digital transformation strategies on key performance indicators that track performance against their agencies’ business objectives. Those indicators can be as simple as the number of clicks a user has to go through to complete an online task, or the time it takes staff to complete incoming requests.

With a clear view of the problem—and the opportunity—the next step is to find online engagement platforms and mission specific support solutions that deliver all the components of a digital solution, from self-service portals, to improved tracking, to the full range of mobile and social engagement platforms.

Bob Benstead, Vice President, Business Development, Public Sector, Infor

  • Federal Government
  • State and Local Government
  • North America
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