Dorchester County, South Carolina Simplifies Government with SimpliGov Platform

Dorchester County’s digital transformation journey started well before the COVID-19 pandemic and only accelerated over the past year. Unlike many state and local governments that were caught largely unprepared at the start of the pandemic, Dorchester County’s digital transformation was already underway enabled by SimpliGov’s industry-leading workflow automation platform.

“We are huge fans of the SimpliGov platform because of its perfect balance of simplicity and robust features for government,” said Jason Walters, Chief Information Officer of Dorchester County in South Carolina.

“SimpliGov proved to us the power of workflow automation and how relevant it is for digital transformation. It is very practical for simplifying government in ways that many agencies and departments outside our county don’t quite understand yet.”

Simplifying Government in Complex Times

Because of the forward-looking move to digitize forms and automate processes, Dorchester County was ready with on-demand, digital services when the pandemic hit.

“We have been working with SimpliGov long before COVID, and there has definitely been benefits to have services online when COVID hit,” said Walters. “The automation and digital forms go a long way towards simplifying government.”

When stay-at-home orders went into effect last year, the County leveraged the SimpliGov platform to allow requests for speakers to speak virtually from remote locations at council meetings.

“We could continue to provide public transparency and continue to have productive meetings because we had the right capabilities available on the SimpliGov platform, which meets government requirements very nicely,” added Walters. “As COVID hit, we certainly saw a need for new online forms to be created. Given that we had SimpliGov at our disposal, we were able to quickly deploy forms within a matter of days.”

However, the challenge that Dorchester County faced went far beyond just online forms. It’s a challenge common to counties, cities, towns and states across the U.S. The challenge of the complexity of government processes rather than just online forms.

The Challenge

Dorchester County wanted to improve efficiency and the ability of government employees to manage the processing of requests and applications.

“We were looking for a system not only to allow us to provide online forms, but also to provide use with a back-end workflow management system,” the CIO explained. “We saw the value of automating back-office tasks and maximizing efficiencies on the back end to streamline the workflow between interdepartmental processes.”

A tracking system was needed to allow the county to track and understand how many different types of requests come in and to manage them all efficiently. Traditionally, the County has had many multi-departmental processes that were extremely complex in the workflow. The CIO and his team wanted to address this challenge head-on and offer more visibility and automation of those processes.

“To become more efficient is so much more than just an online form. It’s that workflow on the back end to be able to route that form or submission through multiple departments and processes. It’s to ensure all data is updated and gathered that is needed. It’s to verify that everything is done correctly,” said Walters.

Recently, the County wanted to find a solution to automate the workflow for budget transfers which had to go through many different approvals. Depending on the dollar amount or what the budget transfer was, the process could get complicated quickly.

“In the past, when old paper-based forms were submitted, there was no way of knowing where it was in the approval process, how far along it is, when I should expect it to be done,” said Walters. “In general, constituents had to come in and fill out paper-based forms. And just like our budget transfer, there was no insight of where it was in the process or what’s going on with it.”

The Solution

Dorchester County leveraged every component of the SimpliGov workflow automation platform, including the online forms and the integrated electronic signature capabilities of SimpliSign, which is built into the platform.

“We have found the SimpliGov interface to be extremely intuitive and easy to use,” said Walters. “We also found SimpliSign as an e-signature capability to be efficient and able to meet our needs for signatures.”

He continued, “On the front-end, the simplicity of the end-user dashboard where they can easily manage and filter form requests that are coming in and complete their necessary steps has empowered us to turn it over to non-technical government employees and get them to keep pushing forward.”

The transition to the SimpliGov’s “no code” software-as-a-service (SaaS) also helped the County rethink how to streamline processes through a more effective and scalable technological approach.

“A lot of times people don’t know how the process works until they are forced to walk through it and build it in a workflow form. The SimpliGov solution was transformative in helping us to think in this way,” said Walters. “Many people learn through the process of building these workflows. It’s a knowledge-building experience. SimpliGov has been the right choice to help us facilitate this much-needed experience.”

SimpliGov’s support team also provided extra assistance to Dorchester County every step of the way.

“We have come to trust that SimpliGov has a responsible team, which is continually providing security and support on the back end. We have a tremendous comfort level in the support we get from SimpliGov.”

The Benefits

“Our use of the SimpliGov platform is making our people and our processes more efficient,” said Walters. “Now we can go into the dashboard and see all of the transfers we submitted, where they are, who has approved them, and get alerts of them, so we can track them all the way through the process. People know that it’s not forgotten or lost.”

Dorchester County is reaping the benefits of government workflow automation, replacing manual, paper-based processes with automated workflows. The shift has made it easier to track requests, process forms, manage back-office tasks, navigate the complexities of multi-departmental approvals and transfers, provide visibility, and interact with constituents. This has resulted in increased productivity, time savings, reduced complexity and faster time-to-value.

“With the capabilities that the SimplGov platform gave us, we managed to build a simplified government,” Walters concluded. “The SimpliGov team helped us to understand it and leverage it for our County’s benefit.”