The portal as a citizen engagement tool: why ECM is part of the solution

portalDuring my time in state government, I was part of many discussions about portals. When I worked on a portal for a small business in 1998, they were really seen as an indication of your tech grooviness and functionally. They looked a lot like electronic brochures or phonebooks. The goal? Making sure that you knew who to call in government when you need something. You could argue that many websites still follow that model.

Our expectations for speed, responsiveness and mobility have created a different set of drivers for government IT. Many local officials and state leaders are trying to figure out how to use technology to change the face they present to their constituents. Smart leaders are realizing that a portal isn’t an online phone book. It’s a giant step toward transforming government inside and out. And you can do this with one solution – enterprise content management (ECM).

Manage transactions
Talking about a portal isn’t just a discussion about a web solution – that’s an oversimplification of the demands of constituents. A nice website is great, but it doesn’t address an efficient backend that supports effectiveness in your processes. That’s why ECM is critical.

Using ECM, you can create a self-service portal to manage all kinds of government transactions electronically, from paying taxes to reporting conditions to applying for a business license or a benefit. Eliminating paper isn’t the only benefit – the ECM-driven portal accepts documents using a workflow that routes these documents and applications directly and immediately to the staff that need to respond.

Stay connected
This same workflow creates email correspondence with constituents, who can view the status of their requests when they log in to the portal – making it a two-way tool, without the staff time and effort. An ECM solution can even integrate into data systems, accepting constituent documents submitted through the portal and allowing them to be retrieved from accounting, GIS, HR, permitting and other key systems.

Lighten the load
An ECM-driven portal is quicker to deploy than a custom solution, which needs to be written again and again for each department that wants a portal presence. This kind of redundant expense is a deal-breaker for strapped governments. An ECM solution has tools to configure quickly and without expensive custom code, and it can be used across the enterprise, so more and more functionality can be added to your portal affordably, and at a sustainable TCO.

The new government portal isn’t an online phone book. It’s a way to securely begin a transaction. Using ECM and workflow lets you reduce paper and automatically route information for faster action.

Citizen engagement happens when governments provide good service. The ECM-driven portal supports the promise of a self-service government whose constituents can access what they need when they need it from their device of choice. ECM makes this feasible from both a deployment and cost perspective, and is the engine for the new government portal.

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

1 Response

  1. Wil says:

    Here in Florida, we do see online transaction processing for things like fishing and hunting licenses, auto and boat tag renewals, etc., but they generally use a 3rd party offsite transaction processor, and last year I had continuing problems with certain processors being down (and I finally had to mail a check or risk missing the deadline for my auto tag renewal).

    I remember thinking that the state of sophistication and integration with the actual agency was a far cry from what present technologies offer.

    My overall feeling is that it goes a long way toward instilling constituent confidence in government services when government appears at par with the level of integration that many private sector providers have been offering for a while now.

    If the private sector can re-invest revenues to realize better integrations and efficiencies, and if software providers like Hyland are continually speeding up the ROI turnaround time on the cost of entry, then maybe we’ll see some improvements here in the near future.

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