“What’s Your Super Power?” – A Cross Analysis to Combat Government Kryptonite

You can work hard, but if you don’t work smart you’ll work for the rest of your life,”

– Tony Stark, Iron Man.

Do remember being asked, “if you could have any super-power, what would you like it to be?”? Even more importantly, do you remember your answer? As kids, many of us longed to mirror the far-fetched yet undeniably “super” tools of our favorite heroes: the ability to fly, webs on-demand and car-crushing strength. We put on capes, grabbed make-shift cardboard swords and, just like that, had all the power in the world.

So isn’t it ironic that, as we mature and step into real-world positions of power, we become less confident in our abilities? Walking into any job, especially government-based roles, knowing there are countless people depending on the services we provide, yet we check our creativity and beliefs in what could-be at the door. The status quo becomes our kryptonite and we stay shackled to the enemy of routine, never questioning the power it has over us and, consequently, the public.

Realize Your Power

You may not have Superman’s ability to fly, Thor’s hammer or Spider-Man’s webs, but all government staff have an undeniable superpower: the ability to serve people. To make lives easier. To help.

And, just like our admired heroes, the first step is embracing a tool that compliments your power. How can I extend my talents to best serve my purpose? As with almost every government, it starts by doing more with less. So what tool do you want in your belt? The one with most functionality to do the most good.

OnBase is both a jack-of-all trades and easily attainable – no combat necessary. Best of all, only one belt notch is needed to embrace the aptitude of several superheroes.

Functionality United

When engaged in government settings, OnBase functionality channels the strength of several commonly sought-after super tools. And we’re no Joker – take a look at the cross analysis below:

Superhero Channeled Feature Description
Superman Ability to fly Enterprise content management (ECM) allows admins and users to oversee all records, data and workflow from a bird’s eye view. No digging for information in a variety of different places – everything you need is located in one central cloud-based system and only minimal clicks away.
Wonder Woman Lasso of truth With complete audit trails of who has made which edits to what document, the integrity of every record is kept intact while the transparency holds staff accountable for completing to do’s in a timely fashion.
Captain America Shield Compliance standards are in place for a reason, and occasionally checked up on. Shield your agency or organization from fines or denouncement by applying security steps and transparency features to prevent compliance wars.
Spider-Man Webs Swing from task to task with one-click ease thanks to OnBase’s organizational ability. With rules-based workflows and calendar reminders, staff stay on top of daily tasks and deadlines. Once completed, users simply click “send” to push the documents on to the next step and progress through their own steps.
Thor “Mjolnir” (AKA, the hammer) All the power and strength of this tool rests within your hands. With a customizable dashboard and wor kview, users wield control over their day-to-day processes and how they navigate through it all. Not to mention they perform each task in an impeccably “smash”ing manner!
Iron Man Self-made man Configurability and integration are two of OnBase’s most cherished features. Similar to Iron Man piecing himself together, as opposed to being born into power or the beneficiary of a chemical mishap, OnBase gives you control over business process management, and seamlessly integrates with other case or administrative systems. Both features allow users to plug in where needed, access necessary information and construct a system and process that works in their favor.

“What’s your favorite Super Power?”

Remember: a superhero isn’t defined by a movie – it’s determined by a mindset. So let’s revisit that very first question. Think about your day-to-day activities: who do you support? How? What bigger-picture difference are you contributing to?

More importantly, in the spirit of Iron Man, how could you work smarter – not harder? A helpful read when considering these things is Hyland’s “Superhero clerks and why public records are their kryptonite.”

We Want to Hear From You!

Who’s your favorite superhero? What OnBase functionality do you think he/she would like best?

Respond in the “comments” below or on our Government Solutions LinkedIn Showcase page. We read and respond – promise!

Weathering Shallow Roots

If you’ve ever taken a stroll through a woodsy path, you’ve probably been over towered by some pretty time-worn trees. And if you’ve endured a heavy wind storm, you’ve probably seen some neighbors’ trees come towering down. So why is it that certain trees can weather years’ worth of wind, storms and other natural disturbances and still stand tall while other trees of the same size cannot?

To find the answer, simply trace their roots. Having to dig deep for water and other nutrients, trees of the wilderness tend to have strong, deeply embedded roots. Home-grown trees, on the other hand, might have enjoyed water from sprinkler systems or rainier climates and have not had to work as hard. Spoiled as they might be, these home-grown trees are the biggest threat to our communities as they’re the first to fall.

So when a tumultuous season storms your department, will your processes be rooted in a secure, time-tested system? Or will its surface-level depth cause your customer service to come crashing down?

181_storm

What Kind of Forecast are We Talking About?

A while back, we warned you about the silver tsunamis where retiring workers are flooding years of procedural and informational know-how out of your organizations. We also explained how winter weather and comfort foods are discouraging constituents from fulfilling residential responsibilities, and the new innovations that are now allowing constituents to engage wherever they are.

But the perfect storm will inevitably hit when one or both of those contributing inefficiencies is coupled with a slammed governmental department.

As a matter of fact, this is exactly what happened to a public utility company when trying to service more than 203,000 customers by manually passing documents from desk to desk, leaving personally identifiable information exposed in broad daylight. They eventually made their way out of the squall after cultivating a more secure working environment, but they’ll tell the full story much better than we can during Velocity 2019.

So How Can I Bolster My Roots?

Let’s start with where you are.

If, like our utility company customer, you are still pushing papers around your office, you should start to seriously consider going paperless. The concept and process of “going paperless,” however, tends to be misunderstood. So much so that we penned a short eBook defining and mapping out the paperless process to help others speak our language and better understand that the concept is much more than digital storage and retrieval.

But maybe you’ve already tried branching into the paperless realm with an enterprise content management system (ECM) or document management system (DMS), but it’s no longer absorbing the new functionality and opportunity your organization needs to grow. The shallow depth of your current system is inhibiting your roots from digging deeper into automation and, because of its age, is also too complex and expensive to continue investing into. If this is where you are, it’s time to turn a new leaf and explore a modern-day ECM, DMS or other government-centric solution that will enrich your processes, nourish your staff and constituents’ needs and save you the time, money and trees you intended to preserve in the first place.

We Want to Hear From You!

Where are you currently planted – in an office inundated with paper, with a legacy system that’s keeping you shallow, or with blossoming government solution that grows with your department’s ever-changing needs?

Respond in the “comments” section below or on our Government Solutions showcase page. We read and respond – promise!

A #TenYearChallenge for Government

If you’ve scrolled through social media at all in the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen friends and family, celebrities, and even some of your favorite retail and fast-food chains participate in the #TenYearChallenge.

Many of them made us laugh.

177_10year-1

Some invoked a tasteful sense of nostalgia while pointing to 10 years of stagnancy as a win for all.

177_10year-2

Others took the opportunity to make a more politically-charged statement about a dire need for change.

177_10year-3

While there were many creative statements made during the ten-year challenge, there was one, seemingly innocent decade-old comparison that made many stop and reflect on how much time has changed the way we interact with the world.

177_10year-4

Maybe it wasn’t this exact picture. Maybe it was of a flip-phone versus a smartphone. Maybe a dinosaur computer versus a tablet. In any case, your reaction was probably the same – “Wow! I remember when…”

For example, anyone born before the early 2000s probably didn’t travel unless they a) had the route memorized, or b) plotted the route on a physical map and secured a co-pilot to keep them on track. Nowadays, we simply plug our destination into Google Maps and we’re off! Thanks to GIS integrations, technology will even re-route us if an accident or heavy traffic is delaying the original directions.

I’m not sure whether today’s kids are lucky or deprived for not having to endure hours on the road listening to their parents quarrel over a giant map outstretched on the dashboard.

While many of us put these changes in the context of our daily lives, we probably didn’t connect the dots to how technology has changed our jobs. For government departments, the evolution has been incredible.

Ten Years Ago…

You were still spending your birthday at the DMV (AKA, the Secretary of State’s office) renewing license plate tabs. Leslie Knope just started introducing us to the real struggles of the parks and recreation department. Leanne didn’t know she’d be the star of an “OnBase for Human Resources” series, and #GovTech know-how definitely wasn’t streamed into your daily LinkedIn newsfeed.

Ten Years from Now?

The #TenYearChallenge may have seemed like a gimmicky social media fad, but it actually forced many of us to reflect on how much time changes people, places and processes. What we know as normal today could be a polaroid picture of the past in ten years’ time.

With constituents at the forefront of every operation, government agencies need to keep pace with the changes of the world. Many are hopping on the tech bandwagon and doing their best to stay relevant, but the change will continue as consumers increasingly demand mobility, immediate gratification, and convenience – all of which your file cabinets, manila folders, and snail-mailed paperwork cannot offer. Staying connected to the people, driving community involvement and ensuring responsible citizenship means constantly adapting to and adopting the innovations designed to fulfill those exact needs.

If your department has no records management process, automation or streamlining capabilities in 2019, what will it be like in 2029? You have to walk before you can run, and if your department can’t walk with these tools today, it surely won’t be able to run into whatever the standards are for 2029.

So, what does a government agency that’s up-to-par with societal pace look like in 2019? A 360-degree view of all records and documents in one, secure location. A paperless workflow that gets the job done and in the right hands with just a few clicks. Integrations with the best-of-breed solutions that serve your niche government industry’s current needs and future goals. In other words, OnBase.

We Want to Hear from You!

Where would you like to see your department in ten years?

Answer in the comments section below or on our Government solutions showcase page. We read and respond – promise!

696 Construction is Complete. Now Let’s Talk Planning & Public Works!

At first glance, last Monday was just like many January Mondays in Michigan: gray… cold… we even started the morning with freezing rain. Despite these dreary conditions, however, many Michiganders were smiling through their commutes and probably arriving at work a little earlier than usual to high-five their co-workers. Why so chipper for a Monday? Because the 10-mile stretch of westbound 696 freeway in Macomb County, a main pipeline for Michigan commuters, many of which included our own staff and even some clients, was finally reopened.

Michigan’s Department of Transportation (DOT) started the project in late April 2018, tacking on significant commute time, inconveniencing travelers, and causing a lot of gripe. But thanks to the Midwest’s mild start to winter, the construction team was able to finish the project two days ahead of schedule.

Government Projects Can Be Ahead of Schedule?

Whether you’re the DOT planning a freeway facelift, the Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation, the DMV, or any other government department, you’re probably spending these first weeks of January strategizing for 2019 initiatives and setting deadlines that won’t please everyone. Because, let’s be real: people like to complain.

And, as with any large project, your biggest challenges are probably organizing who needs to be where when, meeting deadlines, taking and sharing photos, records management, invoice processing, and the annoying loose ends in between. You could do this by spending every day emailing, faxing, driving and buried in a web of different databases and browsers. Or, you could let OnBase manage it for you.

174_binders

Planning & Public Works On Demand with OnBase

Serving as a central document repository, process manager, integrator, and more, OnBase is the jack of all trades that keeps your public works project on course at every stage.

Asset Management

As we’ve all experienced from buffets, self-serve tends to make everyone happier. Results are the same when applied to the government setting. Okay, constituents probably won’t be as excited as they would be at a buffet, but you get the point.

By connecting to in-house databases like Cityworks and Accela Automation, all your data and documents are connected. With just a few clicks on your laptop, tablet or smartphone, contracts, plan revisions, CAD drawings and more can be collaborated on, managed, edited and routed to whom and where it needs to be. This online access empowers mobility and allows constituents to self-serve while untethering your staff from the phones.

Integrations: Cityworks and Esri

By integrating OnBase with your Cityworks and/or Accela permitting solutions, all working parties and staff have a cohesive view of the information necessary to do their jobs. Quick access to work orders, service requests, licenses, permits, and more fosters collaboration while reducing the time it takes to complete a task. Aside from the obvious benefit, saved time and better creativity lends itself increased constituent satisfaction and stronger community developments.

With OnBase-Esri integrations, everything you need is on the map – literally! GIS users can quickly access  supporting documents relating to any project location simply by clicking on the map’s geographic pinpoint.

Electronic Plan Review

Plan review doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Thankfully, neither does OnBase. Highly configurable automation builds OnBase around your existing processes without the need for costly custom code. With a central hub to store all plans and related documents, automation and revision control, transparency into plan status via reporting dashboards, and a robust workflow that empowers real-time collaboration, plan review has never been easier.

Interested in learning more about keeping your community departments connected through every project? Check out our planning & public services solutions webpage and resources. Have questions? Let us know – we love to chat!

Speaking of which…

We Want to Hear from You!

What’s clogging your public work’s department? In which areas could you be more efficient?

Respond in the comment section below, or on our Government Solutions Showcase page on LinkedIn. We read and reply!

Registering to Vote and Gravy: Why Is One of These Not Like the Other?

It’s difficult to believe November first is next week! While I’m not quite ready for the snow, I’m completely prepared for the food!  One of my favorites? Gravy. While not something to eat by itself (although I’m not putting it past anyone), gravy is the staple side to most comfort foods. Largely because it’s delicious, but also because it’s an easy pairing. And as the first snowfalls nudge us inside and we forgo our afternoon apple for the warmth of these comforting foods, we will feel guilty for falling off the healthy-eating bandwagon. But with the click of your remote, that guilt is forgotten. If we’re lucky, we might even fall asleep and snooze through that workout class for the third time this week.

Within minutes of turning to TV, however, you remember that commercials in November are political enough to push everyone back into the kitchen for a second serving of stress eating, and you’re glad you bought the extra jar of gravy.

As if it’s not challenging enough to stay informed about ballot issues and who is running for what, we first need to worry about registering to vote. Looking out the window at blustery winds and a snow-covered car, you think about the line at the secretary of state’s office, take another bite, and decide to put off registration until tomorrow, right after that workout class.

Hop Online, Not In Line

Did you know that, instead of enduring another campaign commercial or a white-knuckled trip to the secretary of state’s office, most people could spend that time registering to vote? Yes, from your couch. In less time than it takes to re-heat your leftovers!

Last year, Washington state’s Department of Licensing felt so strongly about online self-service for routine constituent needs, they produced a musical about it. And in case you forgot SOS 101, they also shared some best practices.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0zCOdfWWNU]
 

Through its campaign “Hop Online, Not In Line,” Michigan is another state that offers its constituents the ability to take care of government-related business from the comfort and convenience of wherever they may be. Whether you’re registering to vote or to become an organ donor, or you’re just renewing a vehicle tabs, many of your citizen duties are really gravy tasks. Simply click a few buttons on your mobile device, and you’re back to clicking over campaign commercials.

Not Riding the Gravy Boat?

How is your community performing on issues like real-time pothole alerts, tracking real estate licenses, processing rebates for low-income individuals, complaint tracking and more? How is your budget looking? If you’re forcing residents to stress eat after hours in long lines, and your consistently shrinking budget can’t afford to keep hiring and paying overtime, the problem might be in your out-moded, paper-driven processes.

With more people multi-tasking and more government agencies forced to do more with less, it’s critical that fulfilling resident tasks is more convenient and cost-effective than ever before. And yes, that is a “thing” that government sectors across the nation are implementing, and it’s called OnBase® by Hyland.

And if you’d rather watch a demo than more campaign commercials, send us a message. We won’t even ask you to put your fork down.

How many stars would constituents give your customer service? Is five really enough?

Got Efficiency? Many Governments Just Milk Outmoded Systems

By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft

Need a ride? Text an Uber. Want to check your account balance? There’s an app for that. Waiting for your car to get serviced? Catch up on those work emails.

People are busier than ever before and, in a rush to make the most of every minute, we depend on technology to help us achieve it all. Businesses are taking note of this tech-driven consumerism and are flourishing their customer satisfaction efforts by making products and services readily available through apps and the internet. This technology trend is catching fire well beyond traditional retail and service providers and is now unearthing multi-faceted opportunities for government agencies across the nation.

In Recent News…

A recent Route Fifty article speaks to this truth. It describes how government workers are encouraged to accept and lean into this technological turn of customer service as citizens and constituents demand easier and faster access to government service and data. Not only because it will make the public happier, but it will make your office shine from the inside out. After all, when traditionally-manual processes get boiled down to the click of a button, workplace efficiency and office morale rise to the top.

Efficiency aside, there is also another threat washing over many paper-centric organizations: silver tsunamis.

When Government Goes Digital

162_floppydiskHow can you tell if you need to modernize your agency’s processes? Well, if you’re still using floppy disks, storing records in filing cabinets, running obsolete hardware, or using a computer system that was built in the ‘70s, this is for you.

If you have staff that’s been going about this time-intensive process for years, needing an upgrade might not resonate right away. After all, the jobs are getting done… eventually. But the heart of the issue isn’t just getting a job done – the genuine concern is that most government agencies today can’t meet the needs of their constituents.

So, you’re at a crossroads: your inefficient processes are frustrating your staff and the public, your paper records are at risk, and you need to find a cost and time effective way to do a 180° with your current technology. Where to go from here?

Implementing Change: Technology and Staff

Despite understanding all the reasons why they need to make the switch, too many government agencies are hung up on how to implement the change. It’s understandable, considering a digital makeover sounds a bit expensive. Like many, you’re probably envisioning your staff sitting through boring lectures, struggling to maneuver complex codes, and/or watching a stampede of impatient constituents line up while your staff struggles with a new system.

If you want to go the long way around, you can. But government is a niche market that needs custom solutions for implementing efficiencies that workers and constituents can enjoy. So before you jump into general digitalization strategies, consider the electronic solution designed with only government agencies in mind.

Believe it or not, transforming your agency into a digital, efficient and (mostly) stress-free environment is as easy as a three-letter word: ECM. With OnBase’s enterprise content management system, your affordable solution will integrate with any existing software to immediately adapt and grow alongside your agency. And with a 360-degree picture of all your information, records and documents in one platform, you’ll acclimate to the easy life in no time.

Once you’ve decided to switch to OnBase, you can leave the technological implementation up to us. Your job, however, is to implement the change within your agency. Most changes are not immediately well received, and procedural overhauls are usually one of them. Before you share the news with your staff, understand their initial anxieties, address them, and reassure everyone that “increasing efficiency” does not mean making staff cuts – everyone’s job is safe and will only get better. Remember that attitudes trickle down, so encourage your agency’s leaders to corral support, positivity and encouragement every chance they can. We’ve heard that a little cake never hurts.

Is your agency half way to paper-on-demand, plastered in paper, or somewhere in between? Is that where you want your agency to be, or are you working toward a more efficient environment?

 

6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges – Part 6

By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft

From Work-Flop to Workflow: Stop Making Copies and Start Measuring Progress!

I once worked a typical office job where tape measurers were, for an unknown reason, scarce. And I mean scarce! Judging by how quickly they would “disappear,” you would think they were gold. Finally, our office manager decided she would keep two tape measurers, each labeled with our office’s name in permanent marker, hidden at her desk. When we wanted to use one, we would have to go to her and sign it out, committing to the date we would return it. While it was a bit ridiculous, it did provide us with some fun-loving office humor.

Context aside, can you relate to the prolonged process of communal information? Thankfully, signing out a tape measurer did not hinder our work. For many government agencies, however, the “tape measurer” is a file or critical document, and it’s simultaneously needed by multiple people. And having to share that information is most definitely obstructing their work, which means it is also impeding on the lives of the public.

A Word-of-Mouth Workflow

Because of the timeliness of government tasks, staff cannot simply wait for a document to be available. For many years, the solution has been to just make as many copies of the document as needed. More of a work-flop than a workflow, research shows that agencies spend roughly 1,000 minutes per day just making copies of paper documents.

154_makingcopies

But, as you can probably guess, the problem is that multiple copies of sensitive information from various cases are then floating around. With too many hands in the pot, things get messy – and lost. Aside from that, who is the original file owner? If the original document is needed, you would have to backtrack through all the users by word-of-mouth, or a spreadsheet that is not necessarily up-to-date. We know neither of these tactics are completely reliable, but especially when thousands of other paper documents are thrown into the mix. Or, in the case of government agencies, tossed on to any given person’s desk.

Don’t Duplicate – Just Appreciate! Workflow, That Is.

With an electronic content management system (ECM) like OnBase© by Hyland, all your interactions, notes, checklists and expirations, along with all your files are captured, indexed and stored in one, comprehensive system. Best yet, ECMs allow you to share files with anyone or only specific people.  Regardless, all parties can simultaneously access the same document. And with a full audit trail, you can easily see who changed data in the system or who has handled which document and when, which upholds accountability and security when handling such sensitive information.

Not surprisingly, the first time that stakeholders are actually able to discuss work progress is often after their agency has adopted an ECM. Within just one day of having your workflow in place, staff and stakeholders will easily see the unnecessary steps that were previously taken just to share a file. And they will smile, knowing their paper-pushing days are gone.

But Wait, There’s More.

The workflow world is just one sphere of influence to be had on agencies. Thanks to the power of its capture tools, ECMs also help you eliminate manual data entry. With an ECM like OnBase, captured documents, such as forms and invoices, are automatically recognized and filed, so they’re always accessible to all parties with just a few clicks. And with a built-in case management tool, your agency can eliminate its archaic spreadsheets that traditionally tracked where files are in a process. Harnessing the power of complete integration, ECMs will automatically pull all documents and materials related to the original search.

For example, let’s visit a union trying to manage their transfer requests. Without an ECM, their staff must manually locate and pull several documents just to retrieve the information they need on each person. With an ECM, they can key a search of each person and have all their information, including recorded work hours, work history, reviews, and more, available within a double-click’s reach.

How many files does your paper-reliant office process per year? With an extra 1,000 minutes per day, how many more could you achieve in one year?

A Bittersweet Moment – You’ve Finished the Series!

If you’ve been staying with our six-part series, you now know the biggest ways in which ECMs can help the government overcome common challenges. Only counting five? Don’t worry, here’s a recap:

If you have any questions about ECMs or OnBase specifically, feel free to contact us anytime.

6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges – Part 5

By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft

Comply and Fly with ECM: Meeting Mandates and Regulations

153_waitinginline260 minutes. That’s just over 4 hours, which is about half of the average person’s workday. It’s also the amount of time government agencies spend per day just trying to meet public records requests.

When I say this, you may envision stacks and stacks of backlogged requests and impatient constituents lined up. This is true to some extent, but it’s really only half the battle. Not only are these agencies dealing with backlogs and back-talk, but they’re doing so while sweating under the urgency of mandates and regulations. Unfortunately for agency workers, such bold parameters box in almost all of their requests.

How Do They Manage?

Historically, not very well. Constituents with a request need to search the government’s website for the form, fill it out, print the document, and snail-mail it in. The paper document then needs to be hand-shuffled to the right desk, filed, and processed. All this alongside the hundreds of other documents that need the same, vital attention. Sounds fun, right?

Or, if the constituent needs it faster, they drive to your office, fighting traffic, securing close parking, finally get through security and wait in line for the pleasure of submitting the request in-person.

Someone Help These People!

Enterprise content management (ECM) is on it! Using its cloud-based storage, ECM allows public records across all departments to elevate their capacity and ability to comply with the ever-changing public records requirements without cramping their offices with added file cabinets.

Using an ECM system for public records becomes even easier when it manages your processes. For instance, you have dozens, if not hundreds of PDF forms on your website. Many of those are mandated forms that you cannot modify, which makes it hard (if not impossible) for electronic submission.

But an ECM solution, like OnBase by Hyland, comes with Unity Forms which allow you to design documents that will capture signatures, allow attachments and validate data to ensure that you’re collecting all the required information. Then, with the click of a button, the data is merged onto a government form that can be submitted online or printed and mailed. This not only ensures that all required information is filled out, but the constituent doesn’t have to worry about missing critical information and having gone through a ton of work just to have a rejected, incomplete form bounce back to them.

Once the form is in an ECM system, leverage its built-in workflow capability to route the form to the correct person, which is based on data in the form. Yes, it is a huge time-saver! Along the way, the ECM system can also capture those supplemental documents that pop up as work progresses. Automatic notifications at each step will also reduce calls into the office. Workflows can also track each type of form’s legislative requirements and mandates for processing times, and prioritize those forms that are approaching their limits.

As a result of all of this awesome automation, your completed process will not only have a complete audit trail for transparency and reporting purposes, but responding to record requests will be much easier because your documents are in one place and can be delivered in virtually any format. In other words, no more rifling through desks, endlessly searching for misfiled documents or printing a forest’s worth in paper.

I Can Help Myself? Don’t Mind if I Do!

While these features are undoubtedly speeding up the fulfillment of records requests, they’re also enabling a self-serving public through the use of search portals. This saves constituents all the time they would have spent driving to offices or preparing snail-mailed documents, and it saves the agency workers from having to manage and sort stacks of paper.

I’m Ready to Comply and Fly

As you can see, complying with mandates and regulations doesn’t have to be difficult. With a public record agency operating on an ECM, you can ensure all the information that is requested will be securely delivered on time, in proper format, and exactly where it needs to be.

Does your agency leverage an ECM? If so, how is your workload now compared to life before ECM?

Coming in Part 6: Eliminating Duplicative Workflows

 

Is Automation in Government Programming Fear in People?

By: Katie Pusz, Copywriter, ImageSoft

151_terminator copy.jpgIn a society where self-driving cars are actually in progress and movies like Her are not completely unthinkable, it’s easy to feel fearful when we speak of automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

Although we don’t realize it, both AI and automation are already a part of many people’s daily lives. For example, everyone would probably agree that there’s nothing wrong with asking Alexa to play your favorite song, setting an away message on your email, or engaging a bot to really challenge you in chess.

But mention these similarly helpful tactics in the same breath as “government practices,” and everyone’s nerves get a little tender.

AI or Automation? Let’s Be Clear

Judging by the continued debates, pushbacks, and horror movies, many people probably envision both technologies to be physical robots (think Rosie from the Jetsons, only not as sweet), chasing government staff and officials out of their offices, and reprogramming communities to serve their evil demands.

Well that is definitely not the goal of either technology, it is actually a very extreme illustration of AI. Not the evil-taking-over-the-government part, but that AI technology is developed to learn and mimic human behavior, and apply it in appropriate, positive situations.

Automation, however, is exactly what it sounds like: transforming a historically manual process into an automatic one. The stark difference between this and AI is that humans drive the automation process. You tell the technology where to always send or file a specific email, and the automation will continue to do that, and nothing more. Unlike our kids, pets, or AI, automation is very obedient.

Technology Takeover? More Like Technological Teamwork  

As the government begins to toss technology innovation ideas around, it’s critical that officials and the public understand why and when it’s a good idea to apply these processes.

A recent Route Fifty article was speaking to some of the successful integrations of AI and automation already in government. Mentioning the IBM Center’s “Envision Government in 2040” series, the article cited a recent report by the IBM Center stating that The Bureau of Labor Statistics is already using AI to facilitate a survey coding process. The article reported that the bureau “improved both the quality and efficiency of the work,” and “employees are able to focus on more complicated cases that require human judgment.”

You see, most technology is not coming to replace your desk – it’s simply taking care of tedious “grunt work” so you can continue to make real, human impact. And, unlike some summer interns, it’s never late to work and can’t talk back.

I Think You’ve Already Met

You may not realize it, but many people in government offices, law firms, and courts are already harvesting the benefits of automation. If your organization uses an ECM (electronic case management system) or EDM (electronic document management system), you might find that your office is more productive than that of or similar agencies. Because cases and documents are electronically searched for, filed and routed, you never have to think about things like snail-mailing, paper filing, or digging through cases for information.

ECMs and EDMs are actually becoming a very common, well-received form of automation in justice, especially among prosecutors, courts, lawyers, and law enforcement, to expedite justice for victims.

Besides the courts, these systems are helping government agencies of all stripes whether it is managing permits, vital records, agendas, public works or finance and HR.

If you’re interested in learning more about automating your government agency’s paper flow, you should check out this page!

Coming to a Town Near You (Hopefully!)

Already dealing with the effects of car-sharing services, pay-by-phone integrations, and an app for everything, government officials are foreseeing a major disconnect with their publics if they do not continue to stay on top of practical technology issues and advancements.

This is the exact reason that the National Governors Association recently developed “NGA Future,” an initiative to prepare for the incoming wave of technological innovation. The goal is to educate legislators about certain technological areas so they can create policies around any potentially disruptive inventions on the horizon (looking at you, self-driving cars!).

Hand-in-hand with better policies, governors are also hoping to add some new tools to their toolbox by utilizing any innovations that might help them better run their offices, serve constituents, create new jobs and, ultimately, grow their economies.

Don’t Fear Because Automation is Here

Because it happened so fast and integrated so smoothly, it’s difficult to believe that automation and AI aren’t on their way in – they’re already here! And, when applied appropriately, these technologies are making everyone’s lives easier by taking care of the tedious work and leaving human-element decisions to real people.

So as the government continues to leverage AI and automated processes, it’s critical that we stay informed about the technologies that are improving our lives. So let’s start by discerning between the benefits that real-life automation and AI are providing, and the fiction-based plot of a horror movie.

Which benefit of a more streamlined government process are you most excited about?

 

6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges – Part 4

By: Kevin Ledgister, Marketing Manager, ImageSoft

150_roundtuit.pngMusic to Everyone’s Ears: Better Serving Constituents and Employees with ECM.

“I just love frustrated phone calls from residents!” said no government official ever.

When you’re serving an entire state, county, or even a city of people who all “want their answers now!”, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. And as if the natural demands and conformity laws of your job don’t stress you enough, the hoops you jump through just to play your part surely will. Why is that? Because paper drives so many of the government’s processes, including the management of records, contracts, cases, photos, and other sensitive information. I light-heartedly refer to any office like this as a “paper prison” – it’s a term of endearment, really.

Moving from desk to desk, and sometimes even to other locations, clerks and staff waste time they typically don’t have just on finding documents for people at the counter who have their own timelines to attend to. And if you’ve already read Part 3 of this blog series, you know this old-school system also doesn’t bode well for transparency, as there is simply no secure way for your public to self-serve their informational needs.

With an enterprise content management system (ECM), also commonly referred to as an electronic document management system (EDMS), you can easily meet all of your constituents’ needs, and not drive your staff crazy while doing so.

Too Much Time on My Hands

A good song by the Stix, but an even better “problem” for you and your constituents to have! With an ECM, not only do you not have to jump from file to file, you don’t have to click from system to system. All of the information your customer is asking for is stored on one, connected platform, and within a few click’s reach. This facilitates much faster responses, such as responding to public housing status updates or making better decisions because you now have all the edits and notes to a plan. So, what would you typically churn out in a few months to a year gets returned to your customer long before they have a chance to call and check the status.

Automatic

A shout-out to the country music fans of government agencies, particularly Miranda Lambert. But, contrary to the song, many processes for constituents can be described as anything but automatic. One of the best features about an ECM is its automation. When a citizen submits an electronic request form, such as a request to address a pothole or a civic complaint, it’s automatically routed to the right person for further development. No more sitting on someone’s desk until they get around to it. ECM also ensures accountability and can notify supervisors when cases are not being handled according to the department’s policies.

Legal documents are even integrated with the court’s CMS, so you don’t have to worry about running over to physically file or find a case. With a click of a button, all necessary documents, discovery materials, and contracts are shared and accessible to the appropriate parties. So you can take your time with the old-school traditions you do like to keep, like cassette tapes and window cranks, while still keeping up with society’s fast-paced demands.


To continue reading more about how an EDMS can help you better serve your constituents, click here!

Born to Run

Maybe you aren’t an actual runner but, like Bruce, you might always been on-the-go. But just because you travel doesn’t mean you have to keep your public waiting. Inspectors can submit work order requests on-the-spot from their laptop. People in public works can pull up plans, manuals and schematics from a layer’s map on their iPad. Invoices can be approved during a break at a conference from a mobile phone.  In the age of the mobile workforce, people expect that you’re not completely disconnected from them just because you’re on the road, off-site, or even on a plane. With an ECM, you can keep up with the mobile workforce. Simply grab your smartphone or tablet, pull up the document you need, and consider it signed, sealed, delivered!

Remember that ECMs with all of this functionality, like OnBase by Hyand, is also making life much easier on constituents. Empowering your employees with the tools they need allows them by to serve constituents faster and easier with mobile-accessible content and overall communication.

What Are You Waiting For?

Because I truly believe there are still Nickelback fans still out there!

But really, when you free your staff from “paper prisons,” you’re also making an investment in the people you serve. Not only will you see a dramatic upswing in productivity, but doing your job in this workflow will be like music to your ears – without upset constituents calling in the middle of your favorite guitar solo.

Look Back to Keep Moving Forward with ECM

If you’re not following our Paperless Process Blog, check out the rest of our blog series “6 Ways ECM Can Help Government Overcome Challenges” – Parts 1, 2 and 3. In Part 1, we discuss the ways a digital workflow adds value to your operations. Part 2 focuses on slaying the paper dragons that want to take over your office. And Part 3 speaks to leveraging ECMs to strengthen transparency.

Coming in Part 5: Complying with Mandates and Regulations

If you adopted an ECM, what kind of benefits would your constituents enjoy?