Digitizing Across Departments

Written by Katrina Lewison

Technology is changing the reality of government operations and citizens’ perceptions.

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Ask a citizen to describe how a business operates, and they would likely describe the collaboration between departments and singular, role-based services. They might say, “There’s a customer service department, a sales department, a procurement department, manufacturing…”

Ask the citizen the same question about how their local government operates and their expectations and understanding changes. They envision their town hall at the center of everything, a singular leader or governing body, and the hope that one website or phone number can return an answer to any question.

In reality, local governments are not designed too dissimilar from private sector entities. They include somewhat isolated departments, often located in physically distanced parts of the city or county, independent teams working on individualized projects that face barriers to offering a single source for any citizen inquiry or request.

Fortunately, technology now can change both the reality of government operations and citizens’ perceptions.

Configurable Citizen Self-Service Technology

Low-code development software is changing how local governments problem-solve administrative collaboration and citizen service challenges. What once would have taken months of implementation and a costly technology investment can now be accomplished with a single tool, some simple system integrations, and a vision for process management. Low-code technology uses common code base snippets and a visually based interface to help non-coders recreate manual workflows, forms, and data-gathering and storing processes digitally and implement them in hours or days—not months.

While the technology capabilities are immense (click here for more on low-code technology), the value comes in meeting citizens’ expectations for how their local government should operate—not as a siloed business entity, but as a service organization committed to the betterment of their shared community. Your citizens don’t want to have to remember which internal local government department handles fishing permits, zoning applications, pet licenses, or to whom they should complain that their neighbor’s new fence is not on the property line. They expect their civic leaders to handle all requests associated with their community and the comfort of their way of life.

Ask them to think too much about where to go or whom to talk to, and they simply won’t engage. Instead, citizens will shrug away the civic responsibility of licensing their new puppy, suffer in silence about their neighbor’s fence, or tell themselves that they will register to vote next year.

All this can change with low-code technology when used to create a single citizen transactional portal for all requests and inquiries regardless of department or purpose.

Creating a Single Citizen Transactional Portal

With a low-code technology solution, local governments can create a single citizen or staff-facing application to receive any citizen inquiry or request and automatically route it to the necessary department for processing or response. More simply put, citizens can visit one URL to pay their taxes, request a permit, or submit a question. By making it so simple, citizens gain confidence in their local government, the gap between the citizen and their municipal leaders shrinks, and citizen engagement boosts. 

Further maximizing the value of the low-code framework, the same benefits that apply to citizens extend to businesses. They, too, can visit one portal for permits, contact information, and resources, aligning their economic contributions to their community’s overall success.

Better Department Alignment, Better Citizen Experiences

By digitally collapsing the physical space between department offices and making them irrelevant, the public sector can elevate its operations to meet its citizens’ expectations and do it affordably, rapidly, and effectively. To learn more about low-code software and see how the ready-to-use forms and apps within our CivicOptimize® Productivity solution can help you digitize the citizen experience across your departments, watch this five-minute demonstration video.