Open 24/7: The ECM-driven town hall

city hall

A recent survey by the Center for Digital Government found that the average city or county staffer lost an incredible six hours a day to filing, printing, copying and fulfilling records requests. I suspected that the survey would uncover some frightening number, but not a number that equals 75 percent of the day!

The paper burden alone causes backlogs in workload, and that’s before considering any reductions that may have hit the staff that provide direct service to constituents who visit your offices.

At the same time, your constituents are hoping and, in many ways, demanding that you continue to add services to your websites, as well as make them tablet and smartphone friendly. They are interested in doing their government business when it is convenient for them, without ever visiting your offices.

There is also a significant portion of constituents that don’t have access to online services, or have issues or questions that are best dealt with in person. Being pulled in two directions, limping along with a smaller staff and surviving on a smaller budget – this is the latest challenge for local government. So how do you reclaim hours, balance two distinctly different groups of constituents and enhance your online services?

Here are three steps to help you get there.

1. Go paperless

The new town hall is ECM-driven. Enterprise content management (ECM) removes the time crunch produced by paper and even brings automation and case management into your tool chest. It also lets your staff find information quickly for that in-person constituent moment, reducing over-the-counter waiting. No searching through file cabinets or retrieving a file from an offsite location – just a fast, easy search from a computer or tablet.

2. Provide public access to digital documents

Making the in-person visit faster is one critical piece, but how about eliminating the need for the in-person visit altogether? The ECM-driven town hall includes access to a tool that securely exposes digital documents to a search performed on your website – by your constituents at their convenience. This tool not only meets the demand for more online services, it peels away another step in over-the-counter demand, making the in-person wait shorter for those constituents who need to talk to your staff.

3. Think portal

Recognizing that local government will be moving forward with online services is a crucial step. Moving to electronic forms that constituents submit online provides a critical service for your community, and also continues the quest to remove paper from government. It’s all part of the attack on that 75 percent time drain while meeting constituent demands.

Your portal is just an extension of your ECM solution, helping you begin the process without paper. It then connects to an automated business process that is transparent, measurable and faster. There are no lost documents or searching for information while moving the constituent through the process.

There is no doubt that becoming a 24/7 operation is forcing changes to local government. The profound idea of a paperless government is one paradigm shift that makes sense for your staff and your constituents. With digital documents and ECM tools, you can change service levels for the better, reclaim staff time and make them more effective at answering the particular needs of each constituent – whether in person or online.

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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