Automate or die: Finding the right tools for your digital transformation

In previous blog posts, we discussed the challenges faced by local councils and the key principles to consider as councils move forward. There is much to consider, but the single greatest contributor to successful digital transformation is automation.

Selecting a tool to automate your processes is a crucial decision, as automation is a long-term project for councils on the road to digital transformation. And selecting the wrong tool undermines and stops any progress you make.

Look for these key automation features

From a technical standpoint, your automation tool needs the characteristics that make it a long-term solution that can interact and leverage other investments you may make during the next decade. A proven automation tool in the public sector should have the following characteristics:

  • Is configurable

This doesn’t just mean that the tool can replicate your processes, rather that it can do this without custom code. Custom code inflates costs and can break and slow your projects.

A configurable automation tool has already scripted dozens of common actions without custom code. And creating new automated workflows are simply a matter of point-and-click activity.

  • Includes a content repository

Whether transactions originate with a paper or electronic form, connecting automation with a content repository is the best way to manage a digital transformation. That way, councils can abandon paper while retaining easy access to the information traditionally stored in file cabinets.

And, councils can do that in a much more secure way than paper files could ever offer. With the right solution, they can work with a single copy of a record, rather than multiple copies with all the waste and risks that produces.

  • Interacts with data from other systems

Manually typing data multiple times is inefficient. Having an automation tool that ingests data from other systems reduces work for staff and decreases data entry errors.

  • Is accessible from mobile devices

Field workers or staff away from desks can still keep electronic processes moving when they have the ability to make decisions, approve items or review information from their mobile devices. Mobile access gives your digital transformation the power to speed processes.

  • Is paired with an easy, cost-effective forms tool

Avoiding the expense of HTML-coded forms will have a positive effect on your project budget and can make the deployment of electronic forms faster. In some cases, non-technical staff can even use forms tools , a positive option for thinly stretched IT resources.

  • Provides the back-end to your web front-end

Changing your council website is not enough. A true digital transformation must include the back-end processes to aid staff in meeting demands. Your automation tool should work easily with your website and offer ways to embed electronic forms and search tools.

  • Enhances communication

Using automation should also offer you the chance to increase communication with anyone involved in a process, both internal and external. This can include status updates to email and text, confirmation emails, escalating communications to managers and connections to reporting tools like dashboards.

Each communication option should have the ability to be automated in a way that participants will not only experience a faster process, but also have more communication about what stage each process is in.

Use the right foundation

As this list suggests, automation needs to be more than routing documents in order to be a serious part of your digital transformation. Effective and efficient automation leverages other investments and data, enhances communication and process improvement and is a necessary partner to your websites.

As local councils pursue new strategies to meet citizen needs and their own budget and staffing realities, the right automation tool is a critical foundation for success.

Terri Jones

Terri Jones

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Terri Jones, Hyland's government marketing portfolio manager, has your answer. In her 10 plus years in both state and local government, she's managed IT departments, implemented ECM strategies and written legislation and program policies. If that isn't enough to prove her IT expertise in government, she has also designed and implemented data systems and websites to manage compliance and funding in excess of $90 million annually. Have a question for her? Contact her at terri.jones@onbase.com.

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