The COVID-19 pandemic presents agencies at every level with serious questions: How will they handle similar disruptions going forward? And what has this crisis taught them about how they manage their workflows?
Although every agency may answer differently, the coronavirus outbreak has revealed some common trends. For instance, widespread teleworking has exposed the overdependence many agencies have on manual, in-person processes. Furthermore, COVID-19 has also forced some agencies to reevaluate how they prepare for continuing their operations during major emergencies.
Jonathan Alboum serves as Principal Digital Strategist for the Federal Government at ServiceNow, which provides digital workflow management solutions. Speaking during GovLoop’s latest virtual summit on Wednesday, Alboum listed three ways agencies can make themselves resilient, digital organizations for years to come.
1. Map the agency
Every agency works differently, and the ones that understand their defining characteristics net mission wins faster. Alboum recommended that agencies use the coronavirus outbreak to reassess their operations and goals. “What capabilities do you have, and what data do you have?” he asked. “Understand your environment and how it flows and connects. You can’t change something effectively you don’t understand.”
According to Alboum, agencies should also consider how their changes might impact their citizens and employees. “If we think about things from our citizens’ perspective or our employees’ perspective, that’s really the key to organizational change.”
2. Fix failing workflows
The COVID-19 situation has illuminated how many agencies are tethered to manual, in-person processes that don’t serve their best interests. All too often, these workflows could become cheaper, more efficient and less time-consuming. Digitizing procedures can provide agencies with all these benefits while making them more flexible.
But digital transformation is easier said than done. Agencies must understand the optimal way to digitize their work or they won’t see returns from doing so. “If you digitize a bad process, you’ll just have a bad process with digital results,” Alboum said. “Sometimes, it’s not just about having the technology, but making sure people understand how to use the technology.”
3. Accelerate agility
According to Alboum, the same source digitizes agencies while making them more resilient – agility. He added that agencies can leverage cloud computing to strengthen their adaptability and endurance during any circumstances. “The goal is building a very resilient architecture and organization,” Alboum said. “It’s a digital organization, one that can quickly adapt to a changing environment. The customers that an organization serves don’t even feel the change because it’s scalable and adjustable.”
Alboum cited the challenges caused by COVID-19 when discussing how agencies could operate from now on. For example, he said agencies could quickly and cheaply buy software subscriptions using cloud to enable extended teleworking. Once agencies stop working remotely, Alboum argued they could rapidly end their subscriptions and shift back to physical offices. “Now you can become this truly digital, very resilient organization,” he said. “As a government, you can withstand anything that comes your way.”
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