States must use data to drive modernization and strengthen security


To meet increasing consumer demands, look internally first

Consider Sallie Mercier, who recently moved to a nearby state to take a better job. After settling into a new apartment, Sallie noticed the registration stickers on her Toyota Prius were about to expire, but she hadn’t received the updated tags at her new address. Careful to avoid a fine, Sallie went online and quickly found a form for replacement stickers and mailed it in. After two months with no response, she called the local Department of Motor Vehicles office, where her call was transferred to three different representatives before she was finally directed to fill out the form she’d already completed. Later that week, Sallie got a ticket for outdated registration stickers.

Sallie’s experience is indicative of a widespread issue among today’s digitally savvy constituency. American citizens have grown accustomed to seamless digital experiences with the brands and companies they choose to engage – and they expect that same level of frictionless service from their governments. A recent study underwritten by SAP found that 83% of local, state and federal government employees believe that citizens expect more from government agencies than they did five years ago. The problem, as Sallie found out, is that most agencies are not yet delivering on those expectations.

This isn’t for lack of effort. The study also found that the government workforce remains committed to its mission, with nearly three quarters (72%) identifying their top priority as “ensuring positive outcomes for citizens.” This focus is, however, very closely followed by “improving process efficiency” (68%) -- and there is something telling in the push-pull of these competing external and internal goals. It’s incredibly difficult to meet objectives if the tools you need to do that are not up to snuff.

For Sallie’s local DMV, the problem wasn’t with providing tools for users, but with the disconnect internally. In fact, more than a third of survey respondents (35%) reported that their agency does not offer a single point of contact for constituents. In order to ignite change and deliver more value to an increasingly demanding electorate, agencies must first get their internal processes in order. Focusing efforts on three key areas can help governments become more effective and cost efficient in their work, ultimately allowing them to optimize their citizen services.

  • Identify operational efficiencies. Technology is best at doing what people are typically worst at -- from optimizing idle work processes to identifying patterns. More than half of government employees (61%) recognized data analytics as the technology that will be most important to advancing their organization’s mission in the coming years. Digitizing key functions enables organizations to redeploy top talent and focus on challenges that matter, while capturing and analyzing key data to inform further efficiencies.
  • Measure output and adjust accordingly. Nearly one in three government employees (30%) identified performance management as the organizational process in most dire need of transformation. Government agencies can’t be effective if they aren’t accountable, and they can’t be accountable without measuring their output. Solving for this key internal efficiency is a vital step toward meaningful cost savings that can be refocused on more important priorities. 
  • Hire the right talent and invest in professional development. The government workforce is aging out, yet the public sector has done little to attract young talent, making it difficult to compete with private companies. Meanwhile, one in five government employees views a skills shortage in their workforce as a barrier to providing more effective citizen services. By ushering in a tech-savvy workforce and investing in ongoing professional development opportunities, government organizations can pave the way to a more efficient and reliable future.

If Sallie’s DMV had taken these tips to heart, the agency would have quickly realized that routing citizens to multiple points of contact for a basic service is an easily preventable source of frustration. Quantifying organizational output might reveal that DMV employees are spending up to a third of their time answering common logistical inquiries like Sallie’s, while another third is spent sifting through paperwork that could easily be digitized. These key findings would lead the DMV to adopt technology to help streamline services and invest in employee training to ensure effective implementation.

By investing dollars and resources in digital transformation, measurement and talent, government agencies can better align their services with citizen’s expectations and drive meaningful innovation for future constituents.

About the Author

Brian Roach is managing director, U.S. regulated industries, at SAP North America.

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