Portal as Citizen Engagement Tool – Why You Need One

During my time in state government, I was a part of many discussions about portals. When I worked on a portal for a small businesses in 1998, a portal was really seen as an indication of your tech grooviness and functionally. It looked a lot like an electronic brochure or phonebook. The goal? Making sure that you knew whom to call in government when you need something. You could argue that many websites still follow that model.

Our expectations for speed, responsiveness and mobility have created a different set of drivers for government IT. Now the portal needs to be something else, and many local officials and state leaders are trying to figure out how to use technology to change the face they present to their constituents. Smart leaders are realizing that a portal isn’t just an online phone book. It’s a giant step toward transforming government inside and out. And you can do this with one solution – enterprise content management (ECM).

Manage transactions
Talking about a portal isn’t just a discussion about a web solution – that’s an oversimplification of the demands of constituents. A nice website is great, but it doesn’t address an efficient backend that supports effectiveness in your processes. That’s why ECM is critical.

Using ECM, you can create a self-service portal to manage all kinds of government transactions, from paying taxes to reporting conditions to applying for a business license or a benefit. Originating these processes electronically doesn’t just eliminate paper – the ECM-driven portal also accepts documents using a workflow that routes these documents and applications directly and immediately to the staff that need to respond.

Stay connected
This same workflow creates email correspondence with constituents, who can view the status of their requests when they log in to the portal – making it a two-way tool, without the staff time and effort. An ECM solution can even integrate into data systems, accepting constituent documents submitted through the portal and allowing them to be retrieved from accounting, GIS, HR, permitting and other key systems.

Lighten the load
An ECM-driven portal is quicker to deploy than a custom solution, which needs to be written again and again for each department that wants a portal presence. This kind of redundant expense is a deal-breaker for strapped governments. An ECM solution has tools to configure quickly and without expensive custom code, and it can be used across the enterprise, so more and more functionality can be added to your portal affordably, and at a sustainable TCO.

The new government portal is more than a phone book. It’s a way to securely begin a transaction. Using ECM and workflow lets you reduce paper and automatically route information for faster action.

Citizen engagement happens when governments provide good service. The ECM-driven portal supports the promise of a self-service government whose constituents can access what they need when they need it from their device of choice. ECM makes this feasible from both a deployment and cost perspective, and is the engine for the new government portal.

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