Building a shared services model in local government

Declining local government budgets drive a need for innovative solutions to reduce operating costs

Local government budgets for municipalities, cities and townships are shrinking at a staggering pace. Declining property and business tax revenues are impacting local governments ability to provide basic services to the public. As a result, budget planning directors and business analysts are looking for opportunities to streamline workflow, improve efficiency and share resources across departments to drive down costs while maintaining these services for the public.

Is there a form for that or should I leave a message?

Often when a service is requested by the public it has to first be determined which department(s) can resolve the request and take action. Once ownership is determined then the request is filtered out to appropriate departments to render the services and it may involve interaction between departments (D2D) or between the public and the department (P2D). Either way there is a manually written request somewhere, that can’t be statistically reported on or easily tracked. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some cities that have tackled this issue and track information electronically in a database somewhere. But imagine if there was a system that enabled them to not only operate more efficiently but leverage the data captured during the process? The result would be spectacular, projects for the city could be determined based on targeted analysis to problem areas based on the data collected. One such shining example is the city of Warren, if you have a moment see the amazing work they have accomplished,

Establishing a shared services model

I am sure you are reading this thinking but how is this possible, “how can we establish a shared services model?” There are several critical elements to successfully implementing a shared services model:

  1. There has to be an incentive or “selfish” reason departments or agencies would want to participate, find it, your success depends on it.
  2. Utilize a single portal that is easy to use for requesting, updating and tracking services.
  3. Eliminate manual forms, sticky-note requests and “While you were out” phone call slips to manage work or request services.
  4. Make sure that any system you consider for the service requests leverages workflow automation, there are many products that can do this well and inexpensively.
  5. Find the funds to provide mobile devices for the field workers. By putting these devices in their hands along with the ability to manage requests real-time based on proximity and complexity, more can get done at a lower cost.
  6. Ensure a public portal is part of the solution to reduce administrative costs associated with it by providing a self service option. It should enable the public to log a request, check status and provide pictures or information valuable to field workers in determining types of equipment to complete the work, inter-departmental support needed or a more precise location where service is needed.
  7. Provide statistical reports on the services and outcomes, show metrics on your success! However, don’t fall into the trap of running a report to prove your metrics are great. Apply the data to pro-actively address larger city planning or maintenance issues identified as a result of having this information. Use it to define actionable plans as preventative medicine!

It is worth the effort and will improve public satisfaction

There is real results that come from implementing these tactical solutions in local government. If you don’t have IT resources then leverage your peers in neighboring municipalities to help. Most are very proud of the work they have accomplished and more then willing to share. Also, things have changed in the last couple of years with cloud technologies dominating the market. It is not necessary to have a data center or a room full of servers to support mission critical solutions such as what we discussed above. Many of the products on the market are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based and therefore pay only for what you use, they host it, configure it and support it. Take the time to consider how a shared services model could help you to manage your budget and improve public perception, it is worth the effort.

Author: Rhonda Wille

IT Efficiency and Business Agility Thought Leadership

April 17, 2012

Copyright © 2012, Tactical Strategies LLC

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