If you were in chats with our business development team about a project I had my hands in, you would probably hear some lighthearted references about it being stamped with “The Gorman Effect.”
My colleagues affectionately coined the phrase to reference my signature M.O.: the history buff. And they’re not wrong – I am a devout historian with two (count ‘em: two!) libraries in my home and somewhere over 15,000 volumes. When people think of history, if they think of it at all, it usually is the chronicle of great events or important people. I like that history just fine, but where I learn the most is from the history of cultures and events that are less well known and much harder to find.
Recently, I have been reading about the pioneer research by Sir Aurel Stein, who researched the areas from modern Tibet and Afghanistan to Western China. The harsh desert conditions proved to be the perfect preservative for early written records, some as early as 200 BC! This was before the invention of paper when documents were inscribed on wooden wedges and sealed with clay – this would have been the latest technology before paper was invented. Sir Stein uncovered thousands of ‘documents’ which were used as purchase requisitions, approval for purchases, inventories and human resources records (today we call this “back-office processes”). The revelation that ‘back office processes’ existed before the invention of paper is slightly mind blowing! What is funny is that when paper was introduced about 200AD, it transformed the processes in many parts of China, but the Western parts of China stubbornly hung onto the old wooden wedges – many still being used by officials as late as 500AD. I can imagine the conversations with the internal IT folks trying to get the old record keeping systems changed out – they probably sound the same as some of the conversations today, since the adoption of paperless or Cloud-based technology is largely resisted. I am confident that the wooden wedge folks don’t have any remaining champions left today.
I have always had an affinity for knowing fun facts (a.k.a, useless trivia) and attempting to understand how things came to be, but I also love the lessons that can be harvested as our culture, business norms and technologies have developed. For almost every profession, the history of technology has pre-paved a few roads for us to learn from – identifying tried-and-tested experiences to mirror and also, hopefully, identifying which roads are better left alone. As a former CIO, I learned this is the only way to stop the not-so-great parts of history from repeating themselves and support governments’ continuous evolution into their most robust, constituent-centric selves.
Like the banter I enjoy with my co-workers, I have really come to appreciate ImageSoft’s open-mindedness toward team members’ ideas and trying out new processes. After all, someone (it was actually the Court Eunuch Cai Lun) has to be the one to invent paper and replace those wooden documents! It’s because of innovative spirits like this that today’s digital transformation can sustain momentum and fan its flames to help as many people as possible. Our most recent podcast, “ImageSoft’s Dog-Food Approach to Cloud Hosting,” illustrates this well. Hosting a conversation among the pioneers of our IT and Customer Care teams to reminisce about ImageSoft’s original trek through the Cloud-migration journey, our Director of Customer Care Tom Hansel does a fantastic job guiding the discussion through preparations we made for our move, lessons learned along the way, best practices and more.
Much of my primary history research allows me to time travel back to the original inception of the iconic buildings, game-changing ideas and trace the history of the standardized processes we have today. Seeing how far we’ve come, even just in the time of my career, makes me aware that history is always in the making. As government personnel, I know you also hold similar appreciations. But, speaking from my own home-grown government experiences, I also know that many government entities do truly get stuck in historic ways. I have heard it, I know you have probably heard it and I like to think the technologists in early China probably heard this too: “This is how it’s always been done, and so there is no reason to stop using wooden wedges and adopt paper!” The adage that, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” has probably frustrated more innovators in Government than any other profession.
The problem is that many of our processes are, in fact, broken, especially by today’s standards. More tested, stable technologies are available, with practically no adoption in today’s Government space, than at any prior point in my career. It could be depressing but, instead, I look upon it as exciting opportunities to do better.
Consider the rise of robotic process automation to support our “repetitive grunt work,” and how electronic signatureshave eliminated the absurdity of wet signatures. Also the reduction of operating costs and the dramatic increase in flexibility you can derive from Cloud hosting models. As these capabilities prove, digital transformation doesn’t have to be enterprise-wide to be transforming. Even department-specific approaches, like the Power of Attorney Solution we recently hand shook on with North Carolina’s Department of Revenue, can save agencies tremendous time and money all while delivering best-in-class service to constituents. If you do a little digging, you’ll find these little efficiencies everywhere – there is almost always a more efficient, more secure and overall more productive way to go about your business of government.
Of course, I would never recommend doing a simultaneous renovation of all your processes at one time – you can’t cook an entire elephant all at once either. But, as the Fall chill blows in, waving us back inside toward a warm cup-of-something and a cozy afternoon, I encourage you to take a little time and see what opportunities might be able to help your most inefficient areas. You might be surprised at not only what you find, but also how easily it can be implemented. Replacing wooden wedges with paper wasn’t hard – it just required a willingness to change.
And if your research needs a little support from The Gorman Effect, I hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to reach out to me – I’m truly, always, happy to help.
Worth a Look: Smart Streetlights Save Estimated $3 Million Annually
As announced last year, Syracuse, NY began retrofitting 18,000 streetlights with light control censors. The new components allow New York City officials to control streetlight brightness and receive alerts when lights go out.
Expected to save the city $3 million annually, the recent Route-Fifty article reports the project could also lend itself to further streetlight smart technology, including censors that collect data on weather and road conditions, including rising flood waters.
I Used to Steal Pens – Now People Give Them to Me
I have a confession to make – I used to be a bit of a pen thief.
Not intentionally, of course, but my hands just always seemed to have a natural affinity for writing utensils. Filling out the guest book at weddings, signing receipts at the store, even jotting down a sticky note – I would finish whatever I was signing and absent-mindedly drop the pen in my purse. Once, I even tried walking away with the signing stylus at the grocery store – thank goodness it’s attached!
So I had to laugh the other day when I went to vote and the associate, handing me a brand-new pen, said, “please use this to fill out your forms, and then you can keep it.” It took everything I had not to reply, “oh don’t worry – I always do!”
ImageSoft’s “Dog-Food” Approach to Cloud Hosting
A few years back, ImageSoft trekked through the same IT journey we now walk most of our clients through: moving our infrastructure and systems to the Cloud. To quote Tom Hansel, ImageSoft’s Director of Customer Care and episode host, we’ve “eaten our own dog food,” so we fully understand the significance of the migration. On the same token, we also continuously see this investment pay off – most notably when launching ImageSoft’s entirely remote operations at the onset of the 2020 pandemic and easing staff through the shift.
Join our own Senior Business Systems Administrator Bill Lussenheide and Cloud Services OnBase Admin Mark Hamilton, the pioneers of ImageSoft’s Cloud Hosting journey, as they discuss our company’s transitional experience and all the intricacies in between, including how to plan for the move, what to expect from an administrator’s perspective, security and compliance concerns, end-user benefits, best practices and more.
Coast-to-Coast Short Stories of the Municipal Clerks’ Journey Through Digital Transformation
From Houston, TX and Aurora, CO to Lincoln, NE and Albuquerque, NM – Municipal Clerks are not only leaning into digital transformation, but now sharing ideas on how to expand upon it.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced government agencies to adopt socially distant digital operations, it’s safe to say most of the population was uncertain about the seemingly steep learning curve ahead. But, after working with technological processes for most of the year, municipal clerks across the country are not only touting the benefits, such as increased accessibility, but wondering how to fill the leftover paper gaps and create end-to-end, digital operations.
As illustrated by the several short-story use case examples in this recent GovTech feature, Clerks are sharing what digital processes they’ve already implemented (one of which is OnBase!) and how it’s led them to new inquiries about electronic payment processing, eSignatures, self-serve record kiosks and more.
What Can We Do For You?
ImageSoft has been bringing affordable, adaptable enterprise content management systems to state and local governments for quite some time. Our industry-leading solutions for government offer automated workflows, improved speed and efficiency, reduced costs and proper compliance.
ImageSoft is ready to help your organization reap the benefits from integrated enterprise content management.