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What to Prioritize and Invest in During a Budget Shortfall

Agencies need to take a fresh look at their existing IT capabilities and implement a strategic approach to IT investments as their budgets are reduced and spending is scrutinized.

The impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching in state and local government. The resulting budget shortfalls and employee furloughs put incredible pressure on government to service the increased needs of constituents due to historically high-levels of unemployment and issues from physical distancing.

State and local government respondents in an IDC survey on the impacts of COVID-19 expect permanent changes to work-from-home policies and recognize the need for proactive communications and constituent engagement using online, automated and self-service tools. These tools provide agencies with the agility to continue services, even during stay-at-home orders.

IDC recommends that governments evaluate new technology investments against the economic recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic for maximum outcomes and continuity of services, in effect, “flattening the curve” of the recession, according to its¬†IT Decision-Making Framework.

Agencies should invest in communication, collaboration and self-service tools to support operational resiliency. Key touchpoints for constituent engagement and business of government need to be maintained; such as reporting a problem, filling out a specific form, learning about emergencies, searching for specific content, accessing public meeting contents and continuing regularly scheduled meetings.

Digital processes lead to opportunities to automate processes, do work remotely, enable faster communications, reduce errors, and provide options for self-service.

It is important to focus on cost, efficiency, and performance while prioritizing investments that promote multi-year outcomes. Starting with services like web content management, identity and access management, and communication and collaboration platforms will provide immediate benefits to employees and constituents.

Over time, given the uncertain and changing nature of the current situation, organizations need to think about business resiliency; how to be agile, flexible, and responsive in order to provide continuity of services for constituents, as well as be able to quickly communicate and stand-up new needed services.

This blog post is an excerpt from an IDC Analyst Brief, “Managing Through a Budget Shortfall: Communications and Self-Service Are New Investment Priorities.”

To learn more about investment priorities, and recommendations for managing through unprecedented impacts on the economy and agency budget, download the full brief here.

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