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Authored by Katie Feldt, Marketing Communications, ImageSoft

Spring has sprung in the Midwest! The last time we chatted, I couldn’t see hope for our move beyond the feet of snow outside my door. Now I’m writing you from our new house and carefully watching my dog play in 60-degree weather outside.

Raccoon sitting on a fence

I say “carefully” because of a “signs of Spring” incident we had last night.

Turning off the lights before bed, I heard scuffling alongside our house. Me and our 90-lbs. Rhodesian Ridgeback, Joey, went out to investigate when the fattest raccoon ever was defensively perched on top of our privacy fence, screaming, swatting at and moving toward us. Joey was fearless in protecting his mom and keeping the raccoon on the fence line – away from me. My pursuits were not so strategic.

7 months pregnant and in my PJs, I grabbed our deck squeegee and began screaming back at the raccoon, trying to mitigate his swats at Joey, beckon my husband, and hoping to scare him off. My husband, thinking I was being attacked by a person, came barreling outside in his underwear when, in perfect timing, a neighbor driving by had heard my screams and drove up our curb with his brights shining in our yard. My husband, country-raised, unphased by coons and lighthearted to realize that, in his eyes, there was no big threat, took my squeegee away and pointed me back in the house while he joined Joey in scaring off our unwelcome guest. After a once-over, I was relieved to find Joey unscratched. He came back inside with my husband and headed straight to bed as if nothing had happened – thankfully, only our neighborhood reputation had been bruised. I can work on that.

Mobile Operations Keep Government Projects Coordinated and Timely     

I’m not ashamed to give credit to my dog for being quick on his paws and able mobilize his efforts on a dime – he knew his strength over that raccoon and utilized all his available tools to keep him at bay until Dad would come out to finish the job. I was frazzled, uncoordinated and unprepared, and probably made the situation worse.

When we have the tools we need on-hand, we’re the Joeys of the situation – equipped and able to make logical, of-the-moment decisions and swiftly move along in the process. For instance, consider an inspection: The inspector visits a new restaurant in town to make sure everything is up-to-code. With her tablet in hand, the inspector makes her round through the restaurant, confirming licenses and credentials, evaluating sanitation measures, and ensuring proper infrastructure. From her hand-held, mobile device, the inspector captures, indexes and attaches photos while filling out the inspection report as she goes – submitting and eSigning the restaurant’s good standing before even walking out the door. Before closing out the program, she sees a notification for another pending inspection and quickly confirms the details with just a few taps on her tablet.

Had the inspector not had her tablet, she may have chicken-scratched notes together on paper and taken photos on a separate camera – all to be re-thought over and keyed onto the report once she made it back to the office. After her commute and now crunched for time, she would probably be too tired to look at anything else for the day and may have not seen the new inspection details until tomorrow – setting that project back and spurring a domino effect on all her future work.

This same precedent is true for all state agencies, who are often on-site and on a timeline to collaborate with other vendors and team members.

Mobile Accessibility Keeps Constituents and Agents Satisfied and Accountable

In addition to empowering regulatory staff to be more efficient, mobile accessibility encourages accountability and makes it easier for others to work with the department.

Take forms, for instance. It’s no secret that there are a lot of forms when working with the government. And, because many of us now work remotely, we don’t have access to the work printer we used to utilize to print out those pesky PDF forms to fill out and mail back. As a constituent, I’m shocked and, if we’re being honest, aggravated when there’s not an eForm available for me to fill out and submit from my smartphone or laptop.

Hand-in-hand with eForms are self-service portals. Not only do constituents love self-service portals for providing information like marriage licenses, birth certificates, etc., from home and not in long lines, but they make life easy for staff and agents working on behalf of the department. Oh, it’s time to renew your insurance license? Prove a continuing education course? Simply upload the document from your personal dashboard and it’s all taken care of – no need to speed up the timeline or buy stamps to account for the mail-in process.

Making life easier on constituents and agents positions the department in a caring and innovative light – yes. But it also greatly benefits the department – mostly in holding their communities accountable. With easy-breezy access to the forms and submission processes they need, constituents and agents are more likely to stay on top of their responsibilities. And if they don’t? Then regulatory staff can trigger automated workflows to notify them when an agent’s license has expired, a due date has been missed or something has gone unpaid. This increased visibility lends itself to optimal efficiency, making it easy for staff to prioritize who needs to be contacted, quickly solve for the problem and prevent bottlenecks.

You Can’t Mask Unpreparedness

On a Florida vacation, I once took a swamp glider to a small island where a handful of people-friendly raccoons emerged from their trees and scampered over to our boat to say hello. They were small in stature and had innocent eyes behind those dark masks – they charmed me to say the least.

The coon in our backyard was wild – he was probably double the size of Florida raccoons and was certainly not friendly, at least to me. I would not label this raccoon experience as charming – terrifying, hostile and blurry, yes – not charming.

The same goes for your mobilization efforts. In spring cleaning your systems and processes, pay attention to whether you can delight in providing these processes, or if the very thought sinks your heart into your stomach. You don’t want your users to be caught off guard in the dark by unkept, unfriendly and totally chaotic processes that uproot their day – the goal should be to meet all your users, exactly where they are, with a charming experience.

Until next time – enjoy the warm breezes, dust off your planters and remember to keep rocks on your trash lids to prevent raccoon incidents.