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Put People First And Let Technology Do the Rest

Much has been made lately about digital services in government. Better technology. More efficient software. Increasingly agile IT.

Better digital services and better technology in government are absolutely important. But technology can only take your organization so far. There is a continued importance of having people actually working and dedicating their time to do the things that people are best at.

In most agencies and departments, real people are the ones discussing issues with constituents, going out in the field to solve problems, and figuring out how to help their communities. Technology is important in many aspects of government delivery and citizen engagement – but there are certain areas in which only people can carry out the necessary services.

For any organization that serves a constituency or customer – even if it’s internal customers such as field agents or mission-facing offices – the ability to engage is crucial. This means interacting with customers and actively participating in the discussion while serving their needs. And overall, the efficacy of government is improved when people have more face-to-face contact.

The issue of human capital and people to people interaction is especially at the forefront of our minds here at GovLoop as government starts to experience a rebound in revenues. With this rebound, some agencies may be considering where they can again add head counts back to their staff.

But where should they be adding head count? Should they be hiring more people in core areas? Emerging sectors? Adding to their IT staff?

Ideally, governments will add back in staff to the areas where people to people interactions are the most necessary – especially in constituent facing areas. But in order to do this, we must actually go back again to technology.

If governments want to focus on the extremely important ask of adding the right people where they are most needed, they must make sure that they are employing the right technology where it is needed – making services that can be automated more efficient so that any new hires can then be placed in division where they will be able to interact face to face with citizens.

In short, there are simply some tasks that should be left to technology for processing and streamlining. Document management is an area ripe for automation like this. An example? Just think about it: How many hours per day to you spend dealing with paper? One hour? Two hours? For many in state and local government, it can actually be upwards of six hours a day. That’s too much time dedicated to printing, filing and searching for information when employees could be doing more important, mission-critical tasks, and interacting with citizens.

With an enterprise content management system in place, employees can still define rules and workflows, but removing the burden of document management tasks helps to expedite processes, and deliver improved outcomes to stakeholders. This also allows agencies the ability to add human capital to the areas where they truly need it: the departments that require person-to-person interaction.

Let’s look towards the accounts payable (AP) department in government. In today’s economy, government must meet the needs of constituents with fewer staff and smaller budgets. However, the amount of paper back office departments like accounts payable produce, copy, file, store and reference slow processes and limit transparency.

Even with data systems like enterprise resource planning solutions, manual processing and approvals, duplicate data entry and lack of effective collaboration often result in missed discounts, late-payment penalties and inaccurate accruals, costing government much-needed staff time and budget.

With document management, or enterprise content management, government automates processes throughout AP departments. You can start with the solutions you need right now, such as invoice processing, and leverage them across your department as time, budget and goals permit.

Automations of tasks like these help your department increase efficiency and improve processes. When processes like these become automated with the right technology, government agencies can start hiring people back to the departments where they are needed most – the places where they will be dealing with our citizens.

Let’s put people where people do human tasks – and let the right technology handle everything else.

OnBase is a proven enterprise content management solution for each level of government, helping each meet today’s challenges of smaller budgets and staffs while laying the foundation for simplified, efficient and mobile government information technology. 

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4 Comments

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Nice post, Catherine, you raise several excellent points on about employee engagement and customer satisfaction via face-to-face contacts. For many agencies, this means allocating more resources to field offices where most customer interface occurs.

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Profile Photo Terri Jones

Good piece. It’s so important to see technology as a way to improve service delivery but critically, to understand where human contact makes a huge difference in effectiveness and engagement. Nice job! Looking forward to everyone’s comments!

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Crystal Overton

I really enjoyed the article. It was very refreshing to know that somebody out there still knows the value of person to person interaction. But I still sigh, because many of the bosses, managers and supervisors do not realize the value of person to person interaction. The reason they don’t is because the work place is only interested in hiring the “recent grads” and “entry-level” individuals to run their departments or teams. It’s not getting any better in my opinion, because turn-over in many work places is high and those in charge seem to be okay with it.

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