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How Municipal Clerks are Using Technology to Solve Efficiency Problems in City Hall

Written by Megan Asikainen

Learn how digital optimization can solve your administration's process inefficiency problems.

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Ask most citizens what they see in their minds when they picture a typical municipal employee, and they will likely describe someone sitting in a drab office, printing and shuffling papers while seated at a desk, next to an antiquated dial-up modem and fax machine.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s time municipalities pulled back the curtain to reveal what really goes on in public offices. Citizens would be shocked to see field workers tracking storm water maintenance repairs from a tablet using software that integrates with ESRI maps; clerks broadcasting public meetings live, complete with closed captions; and parks and rec workers using data from sensors placed in Wi-Fi enabled parks to collect air quality reports and send alerts to registered citizens’ smartphones and smart watches.

The days of paper-based workflows in local governments are being optimized—digitally optimized—and replaced with some of the most advanced technology to rival even the private sector. The only thing that local governments need to do now is to continue pushing the limits of digital transformation and reveal their marked progress to their digitally-minded citizenry.

Improved Service Delivery and Efficiency Through Technology

Robin Fenwick, City of Port Orange City Clerk, and her team used to spend hours each week compiling the necessary meeting packets, chasing down paperwork that needed to be signed, and handling other aspects of the agenda management process. Fenwick estimates that handling the meeting process required eight or more hours per week—time that could have been better spent serving the public rather than standing in front of the copy machine or working on other mundane document management tasks.

Fenwick quickly recognized the need for a meeting management system to automate the time-consuming tasks of routine agenda management. After reviewing the various agenda management platforms available, Fenwick chose the CivicClerk® agenda and meeting management solution from CivicPlus®.  After the successful migration to CivicClerk, Fenwick and her staff ended up saving eight-plus hours of labor per week and were able to facilitate documents being signed, and meeting agendas being completed in a timelier fashion. Such efficiencies allowed the Port Orange Clerk’s Department to focus on better serving citizens and other strategic initiatives.

Read the Full Story>> Port Orange, FL Chooses CivicClerk for Agenda and Meeting Management

Time-saving, technology-wielding stories such as Fenwick’s are no longer uncommon in the public sector.

After migrating from a paper-based recreation management strategy to using a comprehensive cloud-based solution, Spartanburg County, South Carolina’s staff, and citizens all benefited from greater efficiencies and satisfaction. Jon Woodsby, Assistant Parks and Recreation Director, stated, “Every workflow for us has improved...We went from boxes of paper receipts, and daily attendance records and folders on every rental to an online program we are confident is not going to crash and delete our data. Improving our internal processes and shifting services online is the best thing that could have happened for us.”

How Municipal Clerks are Using Technology to Solve Efficiency Problems in City Hall

Process Optimization

One of the primary benefits of digital optimization is that it forces stakeholders and implementation teams to review their current workflows carefully, assess them, identify gaps in communication and follow-ups, and ideate more streamlined solutions while they implement automated solutions.

Go back in time ten years before the push toward digital workflows and ask municipal employees if they felt like they were making a difference in their communities. Too many would cite red tape and ineffective tools and processes as reasons holding them back from accomplishing critical initiatives, depleting their morale, and enabling them to accept mediocrity. Today, as baby boomers retire en masse and are replaced by Millennial municipal workers who grew up in the digital era, they are expecting and fully embracing modern technology to do their jobs. As a benefit to improved productivity, their morale improves, they proactively take on more strategic projects, and they can focus on the personal, professional development that retains top talent.

Conclusion

Clerks in communities of all sizes need to leverage every available resource to automate and expedite non-strategic tasks to ensure citizens’ base expectations are met and that municipal leaders can focus on broader initiatives to help move the community forward. Modern technology has a unique opportunity to hold staff accountable, demonstrate transparency, and build trust at a time when faith in government and connection with local leaders are challenged regularly. By embracing digital optimization opportunities, clerks can become change agents in their communities and spend less time reacting to requests and workflows and more time achieving civic goals.