Digital-first solutions help streamline government processes

Digital-first solutions help streamline government processes

At the beginning of the pandemic, agencies that mainly relied on paper-based processes were left scrambling and had to work hard to bring their processes into the digital realm. Those who were already working toward digitizing their processes fared better, but they still had to find ways to modernize further and improve efficiency and productivity.

As we move through the early months of 2022, digital expectations will only continue to rise. The push to ensure government agencies enhance their digital technologies and processes to give citizens and employees more consistent, reliable, and secure experiences is crucial. The pandemic has changed communications forever, and that means the world is digitizing faster than ever before.

63% of government respondents are planning to implement or expand their use of digital document processes and tools in the next 12 months, according to recent research.

Digital-first strategies are ideal for employees and citizens

According to our Adobe Panel Survey, government agency leaders say that improving employee satisfaction was a top priority. And better digital processes are a key component of employee satisfaction. Employees who are forced to rely on manual processes, paper-based approvals, and internal security controls are often overwhelmed and frustrated — but those who work with streamlined digital systems are more empowered to deliver mission outcomes without sacrificing productivity or compliance.

Citizens also want better digital experiences, and agencies that have implemented those digital-first solutions have seen great successes. Take the City of Seattle, for example. When COVID-19 first hit, their agency acted quickly to provide 1,000 laptops and 3,000 Adobe Acrobat Sign licenses to city employees. Within the first three months of 2020, e-signature transactions increased by 300%, and critical government enrollment and approval processes kept going without interruption.

Moving government processes online is a game changer for your employees. And it makes it easier and faster for the public to access vital services as well.

"As the importance of online interactions accelerated in the pandemic, the benefits have been so clear that we hear agencies plan to continue these investments. According to a recent Forrester study commissioned by Adobe, Building From a Strong Foundation: It’s Time for Digital Government, two-thirds of agencies said they will maintain their accelerated digital transformation even after the pandemic subsides.”

John Landwehr, Public Sector Chief Technology Officer, Adobe  

Four core opportunities to improve efficiency

By working toward online solutions, agencies can increase efficiency and improve experiences through a holistic approach. By addressing four core areas in your modernization journey, your agency will be well on its way to seamless services and improved day-to-day experiences for your workforce.

1. Digitize forms and onboarding

Adopting digital forms and electronic signatures can simplify and centralize information, improve customer service through more efficient communications, and streamline workflows for employees.

Let’s take a look at the City of San Francisco. A few years ago, the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector for the City and County of San Francisco realized that payment of property taxes was especially complicated — taxpayers needed to visit up to four portals to handle all payments. This resulted in many people unintentionally missing payments, so the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector decided to make the system more user-friendly.

There’s now one single end-to-end system. When a taxpayer enters their information into the payment portal, a responsive form feeds data to back-end systems that identify the taxpayer and connects any additional tax information to that individual or business. That responsive form then outputs payments and payer data into a customized PDF billing statement that is printed and mailed to taxpayers for an instant record of unpaid balances.

“A lot of time and resources [were being] spent processing requests for penalty waivers where the individual or business either isn’t aware of additional taxes that needed to be paid or didn’t get the additional notification in time,” said Tajel Shah, chief assistant treasurer in the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector for the City and County of San Francisco. “[This new system] helps us improve customer service by sending timely, automated communications to taxpayers with the status of their requests.”

2. Emphasize collaboration

Recent research from Adobe shows that fewer than half (47%) of senior executives believe that their marketing or experience teams collaborate successfully with technology and IT teams, and just 35% agree that their organizations are consistently reducing the silos created by organizational structure or competing KPIs. Managing projects in one central place helps to address these pain points.

From intake and planning to execution, delivery, and measurement, having solid project management processes helps create opportunities for collaboration across an organization. When project information is all in one place, multiple stakeholders have access to all pertinent project information. By focusing on simplifying and automating the review and approval cycle, agencies can ensure that work is automatically routed and sharing is more seamless.

A few years ago, one state judiciary was dealing with insufficient project management processes that resulted in document versioning challenges and lack of visibility, causing challenges at various touchpoints across many projects. Then they started using a new work management solution. Since then, their agency increased efficiency by standardizing processes, gained 360-degree project visibility, improved productivity and accountability, and reduced project scrambles to meet deadlines from 60% down to 10%.

“Projects used to be siloed, but now they are really team efforts,” said a senior project manager with the state judiciary. “I love that I’m able to notify people as work is happening.”

3. Implement digital communications

Many people rely on government agencies every day to help ensure they get access to crucial services and important updates that affect their daily lives. With more employees working in a shifting remote landscape, finding simple ways to get the right messages to the right people no matter where they are is more important than ever. Simple ways to meet customers where they live, work, and play are essential for today’s government agencies — and that requires good campaign management tools.

The City of Sacramento is becoming a force for digital communications and leading the way for other government agencies throughout California and beyond. Their agency transformed their digital communications solution to personalize customer communications and gain insights into email performance. As a result, their subscriber lists have skyrocketed to 60,000, and 98% of their emails land in inboxes rather than junk folders.

“People have changed, and technology has changed people,” said Mrudul Sadanandan, an IT manager of enterprise apps with the City of Sacramento. “They do not want to come to city hall anymore. They want a digital city hall. They want one place where they can log in and finish all their stuff…and that’s where I think we have the opportunity to step in and make a difference.”

4. Modernize your web presence

Your website is a “digital front door” for citizens. If they can’t easily find what they need when they need it, they’ll get discouraged over time. You need to put the creation of exceptional web experiences in the hands of your content authors, which means low-to-no code solutions that allow them to create, manage, and deliver meaningful experiences across all channels.

Early on in the pandemic, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services modernized their website and reduced the number of pages from 600 to 200. They also made it mobile-friendly, which gave citizens the ability to access the content they need better.

Implementing good digital asset management tools can help improve scalability across the board and allow for faster responses and more citizen engagement. By stepping up with modern content and digital asset management, your agency will be positioned to deliver personalized experiences for both your employees and the public.

52% of government agency leaders say delivering better government services is a top reason for modernizing their systems.

Digital-first solutions in 2022 and beyond

Going digital can benefit citizens and government agency employees alike. No longer weighed down by lengthy process times, manual data entry, and difficult-to-locate paperwork, your employees can allocate their time to more meaningful tasks like helping the citizens your agency serves to find the answers they’re looking for. And when your employees are working more efficiently and the public has a better way to get access to the solutions they need, your agency will be set up for more long-term success — in 2022 and beyond.

For more about how creating better digital experiences can improve your government agency’s productivity and workflow, check out our eBook, How Digital-First Solutions Can Help Your Agency Make a Difference.