In its annual digital cities and counties surveys, the Center for Digital Government (CDG) asks government organizations to identify their top priorities for the next 12-18 months. From these surveys, the CDG found that many government organizations value shared/collaborative services, process improvements, and budget/cost control.
Recently, Todd Sander, Executive Director of the Center for Digital Government, moderated a webinar to share best practices on these hot topics. The webinar was titled, “21 Heads are Better Than 1: A Local Government Collaboration Success Story” and included two panelists from local government:
- Steve Randone, Management Information Services (MIS) Director, Brunswick County, NC
- John Gallimore, Chief Technology Officer, Davie County, NC
Both speakers shared their experiences as part of a working group that builds and shares common automated process solutions statewide—resulting in valuable time savings and productivity gains for all government organizations involved. Here are three main takeaways from their stories:
1. Find a common thread to form a working group.
In early 2016, Randone met with the City of Wilmington to discuss phone systems. While they were talking, it became apparent that they were looking to take on similar initiatives, using the same products. Like in many government organizations, personnel and financial resources were limited, and it seemed inefficient to duplicate the work. This led to Randone thinking about how more organizations across the state could collaborate on common projects to increase efficiency.
He knew Laserfiche enterprise content management software was a common thread among a large number of cities and counties, so he researched their business processes and challenges, finding many commonalities. Randone reached out to IT leaders across the state via the North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association listserv with a proposal: the formation of a North Carolina working group that collaboratively builds automated business processes. Randone said he was “quite surprised by the overwhelming response.” In the webinar, Randone outlined some of the challenges this group addressed:
- The lack of staff to handle public service requests
- Duplicate work on building out processes
- Need for more guidance and expertise to overcome challenges and finalize projects
- Lack of internal support and funding
By organizing a working group, Randone was able to leverage resources from across the state. Cities and counties contributed their expertise to the group and collaborated on projects. This made it easier for everyone to implement process solutions, and quickly improve the status quo. Through the North Carolina Local Government Information Systems Association, 27 government organizations in North Carolina have been working smarter and thinking ahead to make public service delivery better for their respective communities.
Geographic locations of all 27 government organizations/agencies in the North Carolina working group
2. Save time by making applications available online.
Randone presented how Brunswick County automated its building permitting and inspections process, one of the first processes shared with the North Carolina working group. As one of the fastest growing counties in the nation and recipient of the Top Digital County award, Brunswick County was receiving 3,000 building inspection requests and up to 150 residential/commercial applications each month. Since population growth would create even more demand for county services, Brunswick County created an online application for contractors and homeowners, eliminating the need to commute to the county’s building department. The online application automatically routes required files to staff, increasing the department’s capacity to review and approve permits. Brunswick County is also able to give building inspectors access to inspection information while they are out in the field via their iPads. As a result, staff can perform permit reviews, generate permits faster, reduce errors and save resources. Furthermore, other North Carolina organizations are implementing this process to realize the same benefits.
3. Go paperless by automatically routing and reviewing contracts.
Gallimore shared with the working group how Davie County automated its contract approval process using Laserfiche ECM. With 350 employees and 22 departments, the county previously had an inefficient and paper-intensive contract approval process. It was difficult to track the location of a paper contract, which occasionally led to contracts being lost, delayed or misplaced. By automating the process using Laserfiche Forms, Workflow and an integration between Laserfiche and DocuSign, contract approvals are now paperless and seamless. Now, contracts are automatically routed to key participants for their review and electronic signature. By holding participants accountable for their role in the process, major delays have been eliminated and information is updated in real-time. Printing and storage costs were reduced, contracts are now searchable in a central location by authorized employees, and contracts are easily trackable throughout the process.
Also, get a copy of the Center for Digital Government’s latest research report, “Automating the Business of Government: Could Document Management be a Game-Changer?” and learn why state and local governments are turning to document management to address today’s pain points.