Digital Transformation of Dorchester County’s Processes and Forms
The Dorchester County government recognized early on, to its credit, that the digitization of paper forms would be more successful if they not only aimed to do online forms, but also re-examined and automated the processes or workflows that exist to connect those forms to desired outcomes. This strategic approach resulted in massive time and cost savings as well as providing a better user experience and unlocking the benefits of cloud-based data analytics for government.
For its digital transformation, Dorchester County selected to use the SimpliGov platform, which is the industry’s leading solution for government process automation, integrating online forms and electronic signatures as part of each workflow. Instead of taking 1-2 hours to complete and process each form, it now takes less than 10 minutes per form.
“To go from paper forms with legacy, time-consuming processes to online forms on a government automation platform was a huge step forward for our county,” said Heidi Mitchum, IT Analyst. “People in our county are now looking for the online forms, instead of paper forms. The excitement even comes up in county meetings.”
Since launching its first new process, powered by the SimpliGov workflow automation solution, Dorchester County has not looked back. They are committed to technological innovation, propelling them ahead as one of the most advanced counties in the United States when it comes to simplifying processes and accelerating services to citizens simultaneously – all without needing to do any coding or software development work themselves.
The following are details of the county’s journey to the digital transformation of forms and processes.
Like many counties across the United States, Dorchester County was highly dependent on paper forms. Citizens needed to pick up a form from a county office or print a form off the county’s website. (Not everyone has a printer.) They needed to manually fill out the form and submit it in person at a county office, making lines longer, processing times longer and risk of mistakes higher. People had to take time off from work to go submit the form, and people often had to drive long distances or deal with traffic.
If a form was missing information, the person would need to go get the information, correct the paper form, drive back to the county office, stand in line again and then submit it again. The user experience was clearly inconvenient.
It was even worse for the employees of the county. They had to manually put the information from the paper into the computer. The handwriting is not always legible. Missing information is common. They also had to scan documents manually. The average time just to input the information manually and scan documents was 45 minutes per form. This does not include all the time that the citizen took to print, fill out and submit the form in person.
Using this legacy process, the county’s employees experienced significant drawbacks:
- Unable to do a quick export to filter the data and find out how many forms were processed in a given month
- Each department did not know how many they were doing on a daily basis
- Costs of more paper and ink being used and people’s time were increasing
- Less than optimal audit trail
- No data analytics to improve decision making
- No automation; everything was manual
- Privacy issues rising due to stacks of paper forms sitting on someone’s desk
“We were clearly feeling the pain of legacy processes and paper-based forms,” said Heidi Mitchum.
“As we saw a lot of room for improvement, the driving force for change was technological innovation. The advancements in government workflow automation have made new capabilities available to us in ways that allow us to take a more holistic approach to creating a truly digital experience for citizens and government employees alike.”
The government automation solution that Dorchester County adopted was the SimpliGov platform, a cloud-based government automation and online forms solution designed to automate government processes in record time, without coding.
“SimpliGov provided us with everything we needed, including APIs to connect with other systems we needed to connect with,” said Mitchum. “The team at SimpliGov has been very supportive of us at the county. I know I can contact SimpliGov and get the help I need.”
Dorchester County did not need to kick off an 18-month project or hire a bunch of software developers to build the process automation and online forms inhouse. They turned to the cloud for flexibility, scalability and simplicity for the evolution to digital government.
The SimpliGov platform is an advancement compared to complex, code-intensive solutions, or “freemium” point products that lack the robustness, flexible features and scalability that the SimpliGov platform delivers.
The platform also ensures compliance. Because SimpliGov focuses exclusively on governments, the level of confidence that the processes and the forms meet governmental requirements is high.
“Auditors are praising the IT department for making the switch to government workflow automation,” added Mitchum.
A significant amount of manual work has been eliminated through the shift to automated processes. With the SimpliGov platform, Dorchester County’s processing time to review and approve each electronic form is now under 10 minutes on average – a 5x improvement.
Recently, the county tallied up that 2,100 forms had already been submitted, which translates into thousands of hours saved because of automation. It allows government employees to get much less bogged down with mundane tasks and focus on more value-adding work, including faster delivery of county services to citizens.
“People don’t have to print things off or waste paper or ink or have paper forms piled up on a desk,” said Mitchum. “People don’t have to travel back and forth to county offices or deal with long lines or missing information so laboriously anymore. Mobile devices can also be used to take photos of supporting documents and upload them to the cloud platform, instead of using more time-consuming scanners. The overall experience is just better for everyone involved, and it’s even going to help with better communication between the county and our constituents.”
Dorchester County now has access to important data analytics, and multiple county employees can look at the data simultaneously, which increases efficiency. Departments can now know how many forms are submitted and how many have been processed in any given time period. In short, data can now be organized, filtered and monitored in real time. This will support more informed decision-making about resources and strategic planning.
Furthermore, the ability to ensure compliance is improved. “It’s a lot easier to find audit trails and all the attachments because everything is digital,” said Mitchum.
The IT department of Dorchester County has received positive feedback from different departments across the county. “Word got out about our workflow automation and online forms, and now everyone is interested in it.”
SimpliGov’s real value?
Since launching its first new process, powered by the SimpliGov workflow automation solution, Dorchester County has not looked back.
Form completion improved from 1-2 hours per form to less than 10 minutes.
Employees can focus on more value-adding work, including faster delivery of county services to citizens.