State, local and federal government officials are all looking at ways to reduce the time, cost, and improve processes for service delivery. As resources shrink and demand increases, organizations are pressed to find new efficiencies in an already resource limited environment. Due to this dynamic, now, like never before, organizations must focus on workflows, leverage emerging technology, and find ways to automate and streamline tasks.
FInding new ways to automate and streamline tasks means paying close attention to documents - which are at the heart of government services. No matter the size of the government agency, the public sector produces dozens of documents that must be captured and secured, and done so quickly and efficiently.
Think through the workflow of any kind of government service, a document is captured by an already overworked government employee, who then manually enters organizational data, then organizes dozens of files, and then finally physically delivers materials to co-workers. Throughout this workflow, documents can be lost, the wrong person delivered materials, and information may not be secured. WIth ECM, this entire process can be automated, which frees government of the burden of paper. The automation by ECM provides the opportunity for agencies to improve workflow and allow employees to use their time efficiently, rather than focusing on document management tasks.
By placing an emphasis on the workflow process of capturing, managing, and storing of information, government agencies can prioritize work, perform simultaneous review, and use a variety of capture methods for automation of processes. Below I’ve highlighted how ECM impacts workflows for the capturing, sharing, and managing of documents.
ECM systems will capture information from physical or digital locations, and automatically classify documents. Although capturing documentation is essential, it is only one piece of the puzzle. With ECM, agencies can then automatically route documents to the proper employee or staff member, to efficiently give employees access to the documents they need to complete tasks. Data that is captured by agencies could be anything from e-mails, scanned documents, business apps (word, spreadsheets, sharepoint, etc), and also information from contractors or from mobile devices. Upfront, organizations set up and work through process and management flows, and then ECM will automate the process defined by the organization. For instance, if a permit request is submitted to an agency, and there are five different documents submitted, that all need to be approved by different people, ECM will route each document to the right employee for approval, allowing for simultaneous review of documents- this process is completely automated, no employee will ever touch the documents, saving time by removing document management tasks.
Sharing Documents and Information
ECM can also allow organizations to forward, share information or export data. By sharing information, agencies can also provide increased transparency to stakeholders, so they can see the status of complaints, requests, or claims they have placed. This provides an extra layer of transparency and accountability by the government. A great example of workflow management comes from a case study from the Houston Police Office, in the video below, Eric Olson, director of administration for the Houston Police Officers Pension System, explains how Hyland Software's OnBase ECM system allowed the Houston Police Department to reduce paper, and use an online system to track and process defined benefit pension plans for Houston Police Officers.
Managing Documents and Information
ECM also places all information in one standard location, and preserves file types for future applications. One important element of the process is that organizations can set up rules and conditions to route documents to employees. If a document is time sensitive, employees can receive alerts via email to prompt activity on a case. This is the transformative power of ECM, not only is it allowing a central location and ease of access to email, it is also a tool to help aide productivity and prioritize work.
Overall, these factors highlight why focusing on workflows is so important for government agencies. By removing the burden of paper, agencies can place employees into roles and positions that will more efficiently and effectively solve constituent requests, and improve the quality of service presented.
As citizens continue to use the web in new and emerging ways, it is increasingly important that government quickly adopt strategies, methods and techniques to modernize and transform how services are delivered. With reductions of already overworked staff, agencies need to find ways to automate tasks, allocate resources efficiently, and focus on the best ways to improve services to constituents. ECM and proper workflow management is an essential part of transforming government to meet constituent demands.
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