This year’s Beyond the Beltway market briefing event, presented by the Center for Digital Government, brings IT market analysts and key government leaders together to “share insights into the state and local space and pinpoint opportunities, trends and issues to help you fine-tune your business strategies and validate your sales and marketing activities.”
It’s the leading event of its kind, and covers a big range of topics: What emerging trends and initiatives are shaping the government IT market, how federal policies and funding updates are affecting state and local programs, what issues are driving IT spending, and how that spending falls across various verticals like health and human services, transportation, the justice/public safety system and more.
Some of the considerations that are top-of-mind for nearly all of the attendees? How to meet the multiple challenges that are compelling adoption of new technologies at the state and local level. But there’s also the matter of making the right technology acquisition decisions. Without the deep pockets of the federal government, cash-strapped states, cities, counties. and townships are looking for technologies that deliver immediate, steady value.
Other factors driving them toward tech adoption?
- An Accenture survey showed over 65% of public service leaders citing creation of personalized citizen experiences as a top priority. In a world where long checkout lines are being replaced by one-click e-commerce, as just one example, constituents have less and less patience with exhausting wait times at a DMV or licensing office – or with any need to visit a government office in the first place.
- IDC reports more than 70% of the U.S. workforce will be mobile by 2020, so providing citizen-facing apps and online forms will allow people to engage with government whenever and wherever they want, 24/7.
- As Alan Shark, executive director and CEO of the Public Technology Institute, pointed out in an interview with StateTech, the cost of technology is dropping in many cases, but government CIOs still need to provide “robust” justifications for IT upgrades and clear analysis of the ROI any new tech provides.
Government workflow automation, particularly when adopted in a SaaS configuration, is developing a reputation as being the right choice for answering all these concerns. Subscription-based SaaS models remove major cost concerns, while allowing quick implementation and painless integration with legacy software systems. The removes the need to rip-and-replace existing platforms, and even augments older software’s capabilities.
Once in place, workflow automation systems let departments, bureaus and agencies automate their most nettlesome, time-consuming workflows, accelerating and optimizing public service while creating the kind of immediate ROI that’s gratifying to them and their taxpayers alike.
A few examples?
One process where small or state government users of a government workflow automation tool like the ThinkSmart Automation Platform (TAP) have found quick success? In streamlining the application, hiring and onboarding workflows used by their human resources departments.
For at least one state government, TAP has been employed as the engine that runs off-the-shelf HRaaS solutions involving scores of forms, some already existing and some requiring updating or redesigns. Thanks to its integration of AdobeSign and DocuSign, identity authentication and security have been easily managed, too.
Another area where government workflow automation wins out? By standardizing and shortening business and commerce-related processes, such as licensing or permitting. As one standout example, in 2018 California became the biggest state in the U.S. to legalize the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana for adults. This produced a huge influx of business requests to the Secretary of State’s office and other departments; the new requests by businesses for service marks alone for their many products had already created huge workloads that would swamp outmoded processes.
The solution? You’ll find the whole story here, including a testimonial by California’s Secretary of State (or check out the video at the bottom of this page), but the gist of it was that by adopting automated workflows and online e-forms, state-based businesses could quickly and conveniently make applications without suffering any delays caused by old-school manual processes and operational bottlenecks.
When Sonoma County adopted government workflow automation (via TAP), its goal was to introduce it using internal pilot projects that would touch employees across a whole agency, so they’d get familiar quickly with new processes and pave the way for automation adoption for more and more processes. They started out by targeting a set of pilot workflows to see how quickly adoption could happen.
Those pilot programs reached 90 percent completion after just six months, requiring minimal help from IT and only one hour per week of design work by select employees. The team at Sonoma County attributes a lot fo this success to TAP’s ease of use and seamless integration with existing systems – again, removing any need for new coding or rip-and-replace.
Fast and pain-free government workflow automation deployments like this also serve to whet everyone’s palate for more tech, making it easier to get everyone on board with future adoptions.
Eventually, every one of us may be living in a “smart” community where interconnectedness and digital government are the order of the day. But that day isn’t here yet, and there are plenty of hurdles along the way.
Cloud-based workflow automation can be a first step in the direction that’s simple and cost-effective to implement, generating appreciable ROI so quickly it helps build a base of support for other technologies. As more state and local governments are discovering, it’s a painless and productive way to begin their digital transformation into a new paradigm for providing public service.