Driving government efficiency, part 3: 4 ways to start the constituent experience right

By Darryl Wiggins on 10/18/2016 in Government

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Most constituents will only think about their local government under two circumstances: one, to complain about a pothole or a tax increase and, two, when they need to interact with government agencies to apply for a license or a permit or human services. To avail these services the constituent/government interactive experience consists of two primary functions:

  • Eligibility
  • Enrollment.

“Who is support to get stuff and what stuff are they suppose to get”

In today information based, interact world; the Public expects the government to know who they are when determining their eligibility to receive services

Then once the determination of eligibility has been made, the Public expects that enrollment/service delivery take hours, not days.

But when it comes to the latter – interacting with government for services – there’s a lot that can be done to make this a better experience.

With a paper-based government, these interactions always start with the need to submit documents and information to initiate a process. This is followed by department reviews, collaboration and communication, and finally a decision or a completion of the interaction.

Over the course of our lives, we do this again and again. And, while it is interesting for agencies to talk about engagement platforms, social media and apps, the stuff of local government is in these thousands of transactions that document and govern our lives. To be a responsive and trusted institution, local government needs to be both open and efficient, and it can be argued that the most profound way to positively impact that equation is to make those thousands of transactions move faster, make them easier and have them happen in the most convenient way possible for the constituent.

Lofty ideas, but there are four easy steps to make this happen. And the nice part is that they will positively impact your internal efficiency while making today’s and tomorrow’s constituents very pleased.

  1. Don’t make constituents complete paper forms. This is everything we all hate about government, even those of us that work for government.
  2. Don’t make staff type data from paper forms or pass them around to get their work done. This is one of the worst tasks you can assign to anyone. Data entry can also be error-prone, and you probably don’t have enough staff to complete this time-consuming task. Eliminating this means freeing up staff time and faster process.
  3. Don’t make staff or your constituents have to call for status updates. This is hard on your staff and the caller, it interrupts the staff trying to process the request and forces your constituents to call when they might be working and have little time to wait for an answer.
  4. Don’t make constituents come to your offices to interact with their government. This is good advice whether you have a rural county or you are trying to grapple with the heightened expectations of a new generation of constituents. People consume and expect to find things on websites and through apps on their smartphones.

Lists are great for blogs, but it may seem impossible for a local government to make these changes. It would require paradigm shifts and technology investments. But what if you could purchase one technology solution to support this list?

While there are many solutions that could help with parts of this list, enterprise content management (ECM) can handle it all and many more potential projects to improve your constituent service. There is always a temptation to buy a department solution or the latest technology trend or tool. But going paperless and being able to automate processes create web-based services and forms – this is where ECM excels.

So, as you look for the efficiency and constituent experience that will define your leadership, consider ECM as a platform for you to change their experience for the better.

About Darryl Wiggins

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Darryl Wiggins, Document Manager’s Principal and CEO, has your answer. In his 25 plus years in partnering with both state and local government, he’s managed Major Accounts for Xerox, implemented ECM strategies and program policies as the owner and Founding Partner for Document Managers. If that isn’t enough to prove his IT expertise in government, he has also designed and implemented data systems and Public Portals to manage vendor payments, and Federal Audit compliance. Have a question for him? Contact her at dmwiggins@documentmanagers.us.

View all posts by Darryl Wiggins →

What Do You Mean? That Was A Record…

What? You mean that was a record?” 3 things a records manager never wants to hear

By Darryl Wiggins on 02/22/2016 in Government:

When working with state governments to assist with the development of Retention Schedules and Accession Plans, I discovered I needed to implement an enterprise content management (ECM) solution. I was required to visit the State Archives and have my project approved. It turns out that my state has standards and protocols that I needed to adhere to, this ensures that my digital solution would adequately safeguard their  records.

It has been my experience that State Archivists are big fans of digitizing records as long as their standards are being followed. These Records Professionals shared some great and exacerbating stories concerning the preservation and management of records.

Here are some of the best and worst moments I have heard and experienced in my more than 25 years of working with Records Managers in state governments:

“Wait, you mean that was a record?”

Early recognition and classification of documents that have a records management requirement can be tricky. Several archivists have horror stories to tell about the loss of documents long before the department’s designated records person could preserve them. Often, staff whose job it was to originate and collect documents, at the earliest moment of classification, didn’t know if a document was classified or what classification they should use.

My ECM project would have solved this problem, because documents are classified when they initially are archived into the ECM solution. Staff could use a classification that they are familiar with, that without any more staff input, the solution would already be configured to meet document management requirements.

“We had a flood in that room about seven years ago.”

This problem regarding records preservation has kept many an archivists up all night. The perils are many. I can recall the time in my home state; when a storm caused a roof collapse in the building neighboring our Archives. Both buildings were constructed with the same type of flat roof architecture. This pales in comparison to catastrophic events that can occur, like hurricanes and fires. The loss of records can make information retrieval difficult or in some cases impossible. In my state, where records are needed to secure Homeland Security, the insecure nature of paper documents can be devastating for archivists. My state’s archives are currently housed in a facility that is hundreds of years old. But fortunately for the citizens of our city, Mayoral leadership has seen fit to invest in a new secured state of the-art research building, with climate control and special sprinklers. But how many counties and cities can afford such a facility or the forward thinking and permanent costs associated with secured offsite storage?

My ECM solution provided redundant copies, and now even has a cloud-based back-up system housed in a secure data center to ensure business continuity. The move to digital files has made it easier to manage records  even when events compromise traditional physical storage.

“We ran out of space so people started throwing things out.”

In my home state, new government facilities are being built everyday and agencies are moving from one location to another. I can confess to hearing more than once people saying “that if they didn’t know what it was or what is was for, trashed it” This wasn’t an intentional act of negligent, just the end result of having to relocate records with no direction as to their origin or intent.  This can be true of entire agencies and departments, without early classification of documentation, whole stacks of documents can sometimes be simply thrown out. This happens whenever file space gets tight or not easily accessible… This isn’t intentional; it’s simply that agencies usually don’t have enough space to manage the tons of paper documents.

The paper doesn’t stop, unless you move to digital records and use a tool like an ECM solution to manage the records. ECM means never running out of space and never worrying that staff is getting rid of records that need to be preserved.

Enterprise content management projects make archivist happy because they solve these problems and many more that records managers face every day. Many Archivist are looking forward to the day when ECM-driven records management solution, are implemented facilitating early capture, classification and redundant preservation of government mission critical records. An ECM platform has tools that make everyday government tasks faster and cheaper to perform. It’s a win-win that helps avoid ever hearing these comments again.

About Darryl Wiggins

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Darryl Wiggins, Document Manager’s Principal and CEO, has your answer. In his 25 plus years in partnering with both state and local government, he’s managed Major Accounts for Xerox, implemented ECM strategies and program policies as the owner and Founding Partner for Document Managers. If that isn’t enough to prove his IT expertise in government, he has also designed and implemented data systems and Public Portals to manage vendor payments, and Federal Audit compliance. Have a question for him? Contact Darryl at dmwiggins@documentmanagers.us.

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