The pandemic exposed many things. In Louisville, it illuminated the impacts of just-in-time innovation and continuous improvements in new ways.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had set some pretty ambitious goals for IT… to push initiatives that we felt would benefit the entire metro government and, ultimately, our citizens,” said Chris Seidt, Director of IT at Louisville Metro Government. “One of our big goals was our paper-free by 2023 initiative.”
By next July, the city aims to reduce 40% of its paper consumption, an effort the pandemic accelerated.
Having already invested in electronic document signing and other tools to facilitate paperless operations, Seidt and Grace Simrall, the city’s Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology, had strategically aligned this goal with priorities that mattered most to the city. As important was preparing for future unknowns.
Align strategic efforts with larger priorities
Louisville has already converted hundreds of thousands of documents into electronic formats, inevitably creating benefits citywide and supporting the mayor’s sustainability goals.
For example, going paperless has improved interoffice communications and document tracking, and streamlined the hiring processes, Seidt said. “We spend a lot of time at the IT department looking at everybody else’s strategic plans and trying to figure out how we fit in. So, they may be thinking about something bold and ambitious in the public safety space, or they may be thinking about something bold and ambitious in the community services space.”
Develop the future workforce
Going digital wasn’t limited to city employees. In April 2020, the mayor announced the expansion of an ongoing initiative to prepare the city for a tech economy. The goal: “[To] expand the number of qualified tech workers in Louisville while helping those impacted by the COVID-19 economic disruptions.” The program gives residents access to free online data skills training that prepares them to test for industry certifications.
“We’re particularly proud that … through very intentional marketing that we had an overrepresentation of women and people of color participate through the program,” Simrall said.
Use your energy wisely
Simrall’s advice: Don’t spend valuable energy trying to fight a resistant culture on a stronghold issue. Instead, pick areas that can be positioned as a natural extension of how your department operates.