Viewpoints

How automated workflows can alleviate public sector inefficiencies

By Erik Severinghaus
 

The private sector has aggressively pursued document workflow automation over the past few years and now is the time for the public sector to do the same. Aside from improving efficiencies in document management, automation can reduce subjectivity when enforcing regulations, increase transparency and shrink operational costs. The public sector doesn’t have to accept the reputation as an inefficient behemoth; automation can go a long way to rehabilitate their image while meeting budget and performance goals.
 

Streamline interactions with the government

With new regulations implemented everyday, many businesses struggle to keep their heads above water while remaining compliant. Often times the problem isn’t with the business, but with their interactions with government agencies. Delayed turnaround times plague companies that require government review or approval. For example, some cities mandate approval for any type of exterior renovation, while others enforce building codes that reserve the right to review new construction prior to building. When government organizations rely on antiquated review processes, project timelines and approvals can remain in limbo for weeks.

Businesses are not the only ones who feel frustration when communicating with government agencies - citizens do as well. Obtaining a new driver’s license can mean spending an alarming amount of time at the DMV. Citizens in states like West Virginia and California can expect to wait over an hour to receive service at the DMV. Paper forms, long lines and tedious processes can be a test of patience for many customers. Modernized document management solutions enable the public sector to keep up with requests and help government agencies improve turnaround times for a better customer experience.
 

Combat fiscal irresponsibility

Keeping constituents happy can drain limited resources and public projects can quickly rack up expenses. Stricter regulations and transparency laws only compound the public sector’s challenges; manual record keeping can take weeks and sometimes months to move through the approval pipeline.

With the implementation of automated document management processes, government agencies will be able to protect and serve constituents at a faster pace. Automated workflows can identify delays and eliminate bottlenecks when communicating across teams or when routing documents across government agencies. In a recent survey about the challenges facing the public sector, 53 percent of respondents stated the lack of ability to pinpoint problems because their systems are managed in silos. Not only will  automated processes improve efficiency within the public sector, automation can reduce costs, shorten response times, and increase stakeholder transparency.
 

Eliminate Potential for Corruption

Digital, standardized document management practices can significantly minimize the risk of corrupt behavior in the public sector. Automated record handling offers greater transparency across departments, enabling government employees to identify deviations in established protocol. Due to the increase in visibility, government organizations are able to effectively monitor and conduct internal investigations. Inconsistencies can be flagged in real-time and sent along for review, transforming ethics guidance from a reactive to a proactive process.

The public sector faces an enormous task in attempting to modernize its record management systems. Current document management processes are too labor intensive and prone to failure, resulting in high costs and uncertain interactions with the public.

Automated document management solutions eliminate the dilemma of choosing between speed and quality, and enables the public sector to  protect and quickly serve its constituents. Digital workflows prevent unnecessary delays by helping government offices proactively identify and mitigate congested workflows. With automated document management tools, public organizations can reduce integration hurdles between agencies, eliminating the chaos that often accompanies attempts to standardize workflow between teams.

 

Erik Severinghaus is the chief strategy & alliances officer for SpringCM, a business process automation company.

 

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What's Viewpoints?

It features the Editor's Viewpoints and contributed commentaries.

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Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...

Jason Axelrod

Jason Axelrod is an award-winning journalist who has reported for The Seattle Times, The Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Business Journal and Mother Nature Network, among other outlets. Jason...
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