Category: Government


The ROI Report Card for Government IT Projects and Why Document Management Gets an A

The ROI Report Card for Government Software Solutions – and Why Document Management Gets an A

One problem government IT folks often have is how to judge the success and failure of their IT investments – including calculating the return on investment (ROI) for technology. Why? Government acts based on law, rule and regulation, so it’s required to undertake some tasks. At the same time, it’s hard to place a “cost” or value on government activities since success is often defined as improved constituent service. Consider these examples: supporting voting at elections, firefighters saving a life or attorneys defending the state. So if that’s the problem, let’s focus on those things that define good government! It’s all about improvements to how services are performed and how effective they are, and the metrics can measured as such: Reduced cost of providing services, reduced time and resources to provide service, protection or enhancement of agency or entity missions and furtherance of legal requirements or duties.
Self-Service Government-Five Ways ECM Solutions Help Constituents Help Themselves

Self-Service Government: Five Ways ECM Solutions Help Constituents Help Themselves

Back in 2004, I was involved in the creation of my department's website which coincided with the actual launch of the department. We were lucky because our department began at a time when websites were becoming common in government, and our director knew how important that website would be for our customers. Not everyone was sold on the idea, some pointed to the lack of email addresses for our towns and counties and asked whether it was fair to use a website to replace traditional government letterhead and correspondence. But then, an amazing thing happened. Within one year of our website launch, 100 percent of our county and town constituents had email addresses. Why? Because they, like the rest of us, liked the speed of an email response and being able to check for the latest grant announcements online. Our website had great traffic and we took fewer calls for basic information simply because a self-service option was available to our constituents.
ECM and open government Sunshine Week sheds light on value of software in improving records management

ECM and open government: Sunshine Week sheds light on value of software in improving records management

Early one morning, during my state tenure, I watched the departmental file and e-mail server disappear in the company of some state security officers. Its contents were at the center of an investigation into how and why a lucrative tax credit was passed in my state. This was a first for me. Previously, I had not really thought about e-mail and electronic documents as being public records. Soon thereafter, a formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was made for all paper files. This provoked a huge and lengthy effort to find, copy and turn over all documents. Today, nearly a decade later, we are much more schooled in the public records, or FOIA, request. But that doesn’t mean the issues have been fixed. Concerns about the delays in addressing were highlighted this week when Ohio Auditor David Yost unveiled a new state program to track the time taken by municipalities to meet public records requests. The program seeks to address that by requiring logs to track requests and how long it takes to respond, which the state will then review for compliance with the municipalities individual records request policies. This program comes on the heels of the national Sunshine Week, when the federal government unveiled a new website devoted to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), All of these new developments are reactions to concerns about how public money is being spent, scrutiny that has been heightened by the tight budgets everywhere. Some counties and cities, however, are more than prepared for this effort – those with enterprise content management solutions.
Defining Total Cost of Ownership of Government Software – Part III: The “O”

Defining Total Cost of Ownership of Government Software – Part III: The “O”

Ownership. It’s a beautiful word in government. “Ownership” exudes control over technology in a sector where control is often hard to come by. There are always new laws, new elected officials, new mandates and new needs. While technology is often purchased to address these needs, sometimes the technology isn’t able to controlled by the folks in government either. Sounds pretty counterintuitive, doesn’t it? The good news is that if owning the software is something that’s important to government today (in my humble opinion, how can it not be important?!), there are options out there that work. Because the software vendors won’t always share your idea of ownership, here are some ideas that may help you to pick a solution that you can “own,” ultimately allowing you to meet your goals to decrease the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your software. A new definition of ownership – “Ownership” used to mean software disks, hardware servers, server rooms, etc. Today, document management solutions can be delivered in the cloud or shared among government entities. Given reductions in government funds and staff, we need to transform our sense of ownership from where software is installed, to getting the best solution for the best value in whatever way that solution is installed. When it comes to ECM software, the SaaS alternative is tried and true with some vendors, making it a real option, especially if you’re facing limited resources and staff.

Defining Total Cost of Ownership of Government Software – Part II: The “C”

Last time, I wrote about the quest for finding the real "total" in total cost of ownership (TCO). As you consider the "cost" of TCO, I would like to offer some thoughts that might be useful as you evaluate document management projects and cost proposals. During my time at my housing agency, it took me three times to get one line of business application right. I am not proud of this. When the prices came in, I was told to pick the lowest price and I did, despite my knowledge that the product's low price meant that I wouldn’t get updates. Also, I knew my users would hate the interface. But the worse part of the failed deployment was that users had months of discomfort as they transitioned to a new system, only to have to do the same thing again when we brought in another system. How do you estimate this "cost”?
Defining Total Cost of Ownership of Government Software – Part I: The “T”

Defining Total Cost of Ownership of Government Software – Part I: The “T”

IT purchasing decisions in government have gotten complicated over the last five years, especially in ECM. The realization has finally come that it needs to be evaluated as a marriage – not a high school fling. We’re talking Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward, not Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. After all, we are asked to invest significant public dollars in our choices, and those dollars need to have real, long-lasting impact. Because it helps better define the overall value and risk of a software solution, a concept called total cost of ownership (TCO) is getting a lot of attention. This is a particularly vexing question given that we often purchase software through a request for proposal (RFP) process. The problem with this is that the vendors’ responses often focus on the features and functionality of the product. But how can a government agency base its buying decision on this alone, when it also needs to know if/how this product will improve over time, be supported, serviced, etc.? I’m going to tackle these questions in a three-part blog series, and this one will focus on how I define the “T” of TCO. Here are some questions and considerations to help you think a little bit more completely about the potential costs – and risks – of a software purchase:
Graduation rate expectations and budget cuts: The state of ECM in higher education in 2011

Graduation rate expectations and budget cuts: The state of ECM in higher education in 2011

Ten years ago, the U.S. was considered the most educated in the nation. Today, it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations. Realizing this, the Oval Office is pushing to improve this measure. Specifically, the goal it’s presenting is to increase the number of college degree-holding U.S. citizens from 40 percent to 60 percent in the next 10 years. But, of course, here’s the catch – the keepers of the budgets – the states – are almost all cutting education funding, making a spending increase for universities to get more staffing very, very unlikely. So how in the world are colleges and universities going to graduate an extra eight million people with two-and four-year degrees by 2020 without additional funding or resources? Since the down economy hit, the “do more with less” mantra has been quite loud – and the federal push will likely elevate it to a full-blown yell. If colleges and universities are going to even come close to meeting these goals, they’d better learn quickly to put this mantra into practice. But it’s the question of how to put it into practice that trips them up. Luckily, University Business recently tackled a similar initiative. Throughout the year, they’ve been featuring higher education institutions which have taken steps in the right direction to maximum efficiency, which, most of the time, is led by an enterprise software deployment or two.