Investing in ECM government software in these tough times

Last week, CNN reported what government has already known; the real public sector staff cuts are just beginning. With stimulus funds running out, the largest line items that can be eliminated are typically personnel and associated costs.

So what can local governments do when they’re losing employees, but they still have the same number of people to serve?

One way to bridge the gap is with technology. But investing in new projects in this climate requires a few things, starting with courage and vision. Then, there’s the matter of finding the best technology for the job, one proven to solve their problems.

When it comes to the right government software solution, the answer is clear: Enterprise content management (ECM). And the good news is, a number of case studies support the return on investment ECM delivers in areas like health & human services, justice and public safety, public works and finance & administration.

You’re likely wondering why ECM, when there are any number of other technologies and software platforms out there made just for government. The answer, in one word, is paper.

Let’s look at an example. Many accounting departments will by closing the fiscal year at the end of June. On July 1, they’ll be opening the new years’ ledgers (and all of its paperwork).

Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong! It can take the equivalent of two FTEs one full month, depending on the size of the department, to move old paper and establish new filing systems for the coming year. Put another way, it takes one full-time staff person two months just to deal with the paper!

Sure, there are other costs associated with paper, such as storage, postage and the time it takes others to shuffle it about. But the real culprit in a world where there simply isn’t enough staff is the time it takes to deal with paper.

After all, what’s the more meaningful task, helping constituents navigate an agency or a program’s requirements or chasing down paper? The answer is clear: Front line employees are the difference between a great program and one that makes citizens grouchy.

While it is difficult to justify ECM investments during downsizing, it just might be the only way to keep up with citizen demand. After all, they’re still expecting the same level of service, smaller staffs or not.

So if you could use technology to re-allocate staff from low-value to front-end jobs, you would be putting your people where they need to be to make the most meaningful difference. And ECM technology might just be the key to doing that, even in tough times….

Terri Jones

Terri Jones

Terri Jones is an enterprise advisor with Hyland’s Global Services team. Before coming to Hyland, in her 10-plus years in both state and local government, she’s managed IT departments, implemented... read more about: Terri Jones