The Ongoing Digital Transformation of Local Government
What do your residents’ new online expectations mean for your administration?
The COVID-19 pandemic was a stimulus for one of the greatest evolutions in government service delivery in the modern era. Residents now know how to participate in meetings virtually, how to pay their water bill online, and are pretty obsessed with their virtual yoga class from their local parks and recreation department. Only a few years after the initial COVID-19 outbreak, residents expect to accomplish nearly any transaction with their local government online — as they would with their favorite brands.
Understandably, local governments have been crushed by budget restrictions and furloughs, and, as responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, they can’t pivot their service models as rapidly as the private sector. Still, residents are anxious for digital convenience. For community leaders, this means that now is the time to embrace digital transformation and the technology that fuels its genesis.
How to Leverage Digital Transformation in Your Government
Information technology (IT) departments are set to play a critical role in leveraging this next phase of digital transformation and building transaction-based systems to enable the interactions that employees and residents need to keep calm and carry on. To be successful in leveraging the latest technologies, to impact employee efficiency and resident engagements, IT must lead their administrations in accomplishing the following:
- Align Technology with Business Goals. To be successful, IT stakeholders must partner with internal departments to align the value of digital transformation with business goals to ensure focus is given to connecting the systems that will make the most significant impact on the administration. It is essential to think of digital transformation in terms of business goals and not just projects. Taking too narrow of a view, or focusing only on technology for the sake of technology, is where too many initiatives fail.
- Embrace Integrations. The key to accomplishing digital transformation is connecting systems and software to enable shared data, eliminate manual interventions, and minimize data entry redundancies. In an age where local governments must do more with less, systems should be interconnected to eliminate silos and wasted time. The primary tool for accomplishing such integrations is the use of application program interfaces (API)
- Collaborate with Department Stakeholders. Find partners in other key departments that share your enthusiasm for digital transformation and that will partner with you in building solutions and finding efficiencies. Success will be dependent upon inter-departmental collaboration and upon leaders that champion initiatives and generate buy-in among all staff
- Build a Digital Transformation Roadmap and Go Agile. Adopting agile methodologies as part of digital transformation allows municipalities to start gaining value without an enormous upfront cost for a project that takes years to implement. The term agile refers to an iterative process in which projects evolve through the collaboration of cross-functional teams. Creating iterative value allows risk-averse public sector entities to quickly see the benefits of digital transformation initiatives, allowing IT to gain more stakeholder buy-in.
- Leverage Low-Code, Rapid Application Software. Low-code is a software development approach that allows for faster application development and solution launch with minimal hand-coding. It uses visual modeling in a graphical interface to build and configure applications. For teams with access to an engineering resource, a programmer can take the initial application and further customize and configure the code. In this way, low-code development environments allow for collaboration between non-technical department leaders and programmers to develop solutions that meet business needs, making them ideal for today’s budget and resource-strapped municipalities.