Today, as a decision-maker, influencer and leader for your city or county, you’re confronted with the challenge of addressing increasing citizen service demands and higher expectations by leadership, all while dealing with siloed agencies and reduced budgets.City and county services are often delivered through aging systems, time-consuming manual processes, or by city workers who are only able to meet the needs of one citizen at a time. The solution, upgrading to new technology, is usually out of reach for small to medium cities because of budget limitations and lack of IT resources.
Here at SP Marketplace, we have worked with numerous cities and counties to help them transform their organization in the cloud by extending Office 365 beyond basic email and document sharing into cost-effective yet powerful solutions that help local government offer elevated services to citizens.
Emerging cloud technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to improve how cities and counties deliver citizen services, facilitate employee self-service and collaboration, while reducing capital expenses and cutting operational costs. This is what Microsoft rightfully labels “New with less.” Smarter technologies in the cloud, social, mobility and analytics offer innovative approaches to improve inefficiencies and reduce costs.Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud productivity platform, is core to this transformation opportunity. Built from the roots of Microsoft Office, it is a cloud platform with which your staff is already familiar. It is exceptionally more robust and practical than the original MS Office.
Microsoft has transformed Office 365 into more than just an office platform. Instead, it creates an organizational ecosystem that facilitates document management, collaboration tools, business process automation, and much more. It is a core part of Microsoft’s CityNext initiative that brings a full cloud platform solution to local government. Best of all, Office 365 is built to bring your organization into the mobile world, supporting smart phones and tablets. It also provides the ability to collaborate through chat and online meetings.
If you are using Office 365 just for email in the cloud, you are missing a wealth of capabilities that could help you streamline citizen services and stay within budget. SP Marketplace’s city and county customers use Office 365 for everything from an Intranet Portal to help city and county staff communicate better to department portals for IT, HR and Facilities, Employee Self-Service and Board Portals.
Drive a Citizen-Centric Model with Office 365
One of the challenges of any city or county is that its IT infrastructure and organization often grew through siloed departments and agencies, each having its own systems, policies and procedures. For internal staff this can be a complex vertical and lateral hierarchy that leads to inefficiency and redundancy. For citizens looking for services this can be a maze that creates headaches and frustration.
Citizen engagement is often driven through committees and commissions run by citizens. For these groups, Office 365 offers portals to set up online meetings, share documents and participate in discussions. Managing these groups can be time-consuming with extensive paperwork and resources. Groups can securely access portals from home, work, over the Internet, with tablets or a mobile device of their choosing. Meetings can be scheduled and notifications automatically sent, agendas set and supporting document packages available online. Office 365 provides a common operating platform approach as a strategic method with which to enhance citizen engagement.
Empower your employees and achieve high-performing, responsive teams
Achieving operational efficiency in the productivity of city and county staff is a benefit worth working toward. Geographic, functional and informational siloes can impede performance of employees and different agencies. Office 365 offers an enterprise-grade platform that creates a seamless experience across the applications your staff use daily.
The opportunities that Office 365 presents for local government don’t stop at citizens. You can empower employees with an organizational Intranet hub that provides the latest news, announcements, and achievements and activities of others. It allows you to span siloed internal service departments like HR, IT and Facilities to provide a single consistent approach to requesting internal services (help central), accessing policies and procedures, and using common business processes like time off and expenses.
As a platform, Office 365 allows you to take your department mobile while modernizing the way employees work. Leveraging third-party solutions like applications from SP Marketplace and other companies accelerates your opportunity to transform local government in the cloud while also transforming the budget.
By choosing to go with Office 365, city and county decision-makers, influencers and leaders have the choice to improve the way services are delivered, potentially reducing costly inefficiencies. Whether you are a small city or county using manual processes or a medium-size department or agency with an established system, learn how to go “New with less.”
Best of all, we are not talking revolution but rather evolution. You can start by implementing citizen service and employee service modules without forced replacement of existing systems. Then, department by department you assess what can be replaced and implemented.
By evolving from a siloed system model to a modern cloud platform, your local government will save across the board. Disparate hardware and software maintenance is greatly reduced, system complexity is reduced, and IT resources can be shifted to more strategic initiatives rather than ongoing maintenance. Using a common platform like Office 365 gives you a starting point to move your organization to a more citizen-centric approach, driving new levels of citizen engagement.
By adopting a cloud platform approach, your city has the potential to deliver essential services more efficiently, reduce capital expenses and cut operational costs. And, as your city grows your cloud platform can easily scale to accommodate.
Tune in next week when we talk about deploying a citizen-centric service structure with office 365.
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