Episode 020: Creating 360 Degrees of Value with Government Technology Solutions


Government offices are arguably one of the best areas to see some excellent results from going paperless, for both constituents and the hard-working staff serving them. In today’s episode, we’re talking with Dave Hawkins, CEO of ImageSoft, and David Officer, ImageSoft’s solution health specialist, about the tangible and intangible value that government agencies can see with a well-crafted technology solution.

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Kate Storey: Welcome to the Paperless Productivity podcast, where we give you the tips, tricks and know how to solve your biggest workflow challenges, and bring great productivity into your workplace every day.

When was the last time you had to complete a personal task at a state or local government office? For many of us, this is usually renewing our driver’s licenses or reporting for jury duty, two activities that are often a favorite topic for many comedians. Government agencies really do try their best to make each process as smooth as possible for their constituents, but the reality is that validating your identity or collecting all the information necessary for an important state-issued document, or many other necessities run by our government offices, it takes a lot of paper and a lot of verification. And the more paper involved, the more time a task is going to take.

There are so many benefits for organizations of any size to go paperless, but government offices are arguably one of the best areas to see some incredible results for both constituents and the hardworking staff serving them. In today’s episode, we’re talking with Dave Hawkins, CEO of ImageSoft, and David Officer, ImageSoft’s solution health specialist, about the incredible tangible and intangible value that government agencies can see with a well-crafted technology solution.

Dave and David, welcome to the podcast.

Dave Hawkins: Thanks
David Officer: Thank you.
Kate: All right. Well Dave, I’d like to start off with you by talking a little bit about the value of a technology solution for government offices. We painted a little picture there at the start about what it’s like to experience a paper-based government office, and many of those offices are dreaming of a more streamlined process. But of course it has to produce the right value. So what guidelines do most organizations use to determine the ROI for an investment like this? What kind of results are they looking to see by going paperless?
Dave: That’s a great question, Kate.

The way I look at it, there are multiple people in any organization that play a part in making these decisions, the people that hold the purse strings, the people who influenced decisions, and I can kind of categorize them into three groups.

Some are more financially motivated. Their goals are around reducing costs or improving efficiency of the operation, getting the most value for taxpayer dollars. Another group are more altruistic. Their concerns are improving access to government services, overcoming language barriers, transportation hurdles, providing better access, better service to constituents. And then there’s a third group that’s more concerned about image. So they want themselves, if they’re an elected official, or their community, to appear modern and have cool technology, 24/7 access, digitized processes, those kinds of things are important to those kinds of folks.

So when we talk to people, we like to understand for each individual in the decision making process, what are their goals, and then we can tailor our message accordingly to meet their needs.

Now another way to look at it too would be the difference between capital expenditures, or capex, versus operating expenditures, or opex. So some government jurisdictions, some government entities, have more of one or the other. So some have the mindset that they save money over a long period of time that they can use on capital projects, so they have more in their capex reserves. Others like to live more month to month, year to year, so they might have more funds available in the way of opex. And so we try to understand that first too, when we have these conversations.

If they have more in the way of capex, we can position a project for them so that there may be a big cost up front, but the project will pay for itself within a few years. If they are more opex-oriented, then we can talk about software as a service solutions, web based solutions, subscription pricing, things like that, where they don’t have to come up with a lot of money upfront, they can just pay as they go.

Kate: Okay. So Dave, have you ever seen or had a customer where you’ve come across where they have multiple goals, or maybe even competing goals?
Dave: Yeah. One comes to mind. A west coast customer where it was a court system, and you’ve got a state court administrator who was thinking more in terms of legacy, wanted to make sure that they were having an impact that would last well beyond their tenure. You had a judge that was more about altruism, really wanted to make sure they were improving service to constituents and access to justice. And then you had folks at the clerk level in the court that really wanted to be more efficient. So really we were able to work with them and show them we can meet all those kinds of goals with the system we put in.

And then they also, in terms of how they financed it, they paid for the software upfront, but they paid for hosting and some other services over time. So they were able to use a mix of funding from both their capex and opex budgets. It worked out really well.

Kate: That sounds like a good compromise.

So what about the staffing side of this? What type of questions do you often see? Because I think that’s one of the values that I’m sure a lot of them think about as well, especially when you were talking about perhaps the altruistic side, they want to make sure that their staff is taken care of, that they have what they need, but also in terms of the numbers. So what type of questions do you often see in regards to the solution either increasing or reducing government staff members?

Dave: Sure. Yeah, nobody wants to hear that we’re going to reduce staff or people are going to lose their jobs. That is really the goal.

Really, what we want to do is to enable an already reduced staff to handle the ever-growing workload. So if we can automate some mundane tasks using technology, then what that does is it frees up the existing staff to do higher-level functionality. They can spend more time thinking and analyzing and using their experience in their chosen field within the government entity to provide better service to constituents. So it’s not about cutting jobs, it’s about elevating jobs.

Kate: Oh, okay. That makes sense.

So David, if I could turn to you for a moment, we talked recently about the solution health check that ImagSoft offers its customers to help them better understand the solution, its benefits. And if our listeners wanted to go back to episode 17, you can hear all about that. We covered that with David in that episode. But if you could just give us a brief review of what happens during a solution health check.

David: Absolutely.

Now, included with the customer care contract, the solution health check is conducted annually. It’s also conducted during projects and for brand new customers. Its goal is to promote speed, stability and security in our customer’s on-base production environment. The solution health check starts with a two to three hour GoToMeeting, where we share the customer’s screen, and that’s where I can gather information for a 20-page report that I will be making for them afterwards. The report contains ImageSoft and Highland-recommended best practices, list any high, medium and low priority issues that were uncovered during the GoToMeeting. Basically, this is a great opportunity to uncover issues and discuss solutions.

Kate: Okay.

So going back to the ROI discussion, how could a solution health check help government organizations, in particular, really save money and see that ROI from a hard dollars perspective?

David: Well the solution health check can help government entities save money in the long run by offering up preventative measures that would help them avoid costly problems down the road. Some examples are allotting adequate disc space to production servers to avoid any unexpected downtime, or configuring the file share permissions correctly to avoid accidental deletion by users or malicious corruption by malware, which has been plaguing government entities for the last 10 years, it’s been a big issue with, let’s say Cryptowall.

More examples would be encrypting the file share and its network traffic to avoid unauthorized viewing of sensitive information, thus avoiding legal jeopardy. Another one could be assure not only the safety, but also the stability of the solution, by implementing an antivirus solution and adding industry-recommended antivirus exclusions to that solution. The last one I can think of is of course to implement a properly configured backup of the solution to avoid the worst case scenario, permanent loss of production data.

Kate: It sounds like where you’re going to see a lot of the hard dollar ROI is preventing things that would cost a lot of money to either recover the data or to prevent attacks, those kinds of things.
David: That’s right.
Kate: Okay. That’s really good to know.

Yeah, I know there’s been a lot of news lately, a lot of articles that have been talking about government agencies that have been hacked, and essentially they’ve been held for ransom, the information has been held for ransom. And the amount of money that was being demanded was in the tens of thousands of dollars, and the states didn’t pay it, and they were able to recover and get back in, but the cost to recover the data and to replace those systems and secure them again was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

David: That reminds me of another cost savings opportunity we gave a customer very recently. During a GoToMeeting with the customer … this is a customer that’s in a hurricane area, so sometimes systems are down, sometimes systems are unrecoverable, unless you have good backups, and that is what we found is that their database hadn’t been backed up for months. And if we hadn’t done that solution health check, their system would still not be backed up today.

Catching that during our live solution health check GoToMeeting allowed that customer to reach out to their management, come up with a game plan on adding more space to that server, and start allowing the backups to begin again. I met with that customer later on at Velocity, and we just have a great relationship now. I’m her best friend, because we discovered this problem together, we worked on it together, and we resolved it together. It was a big cost savings down the road.

Kate: So if anyone listening to this wanted to start to explore going paperless in their offices, what does that typically look like? How does that process start? Maybe Dave could give us a little insight into that.
Dave: Oh sure. I kind of think of it like the Pure Michigan ads, your journey begins at michigan.org. Your journey could begin at imagesoftinc.com. So that’s imagesoftinc.com.
Kate: I like that. If anyone doesn’t know about the Pure Michigan campaign, you’ve got to check it out. That’s a good one.
Dave: Tim Allen does the voiceover. They’ve been applauded nationally for that. So no, I don’t have Tim Allen’s voice, but imagesoftinc.com would be a great place to start. We’d love to help.
Kate: Okay, excellent.

So this has been really great to be able to cover this element of implementing a paperless solution, and hopefully it answered a lot of questions, especially as different government agencies are starting to look into what might be available for them, where they might be able to see some of those savings, as well as some of the benefits, as Dave mentioned, with an already reduced staff.

Thank you both for your time, and hopefully we’ll give some people some opportunities to look into this and see what might work for them.

Dave: Great. Thank you, Kate.
David: No problem.
Kate: Thank you, everyone, for joining us today. And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to Paperless Productivity, where we tackle some of the biggest paper-based pain points facing organizations today. We’ll see you next time.

Thanks again for joining us today for this episode of Paperless Productivity. This podcast is sponsored by ImageSoft, the paperless process people, which you can learn more about at imagesoftinc.com. That’s imagesoftinc.com. Join us next time, where you’ll learn how to harness the power of technology, supercharge efficiency and accomplish your organization’s goals.

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