How to Digitize Your Government Services: A Roadmap

Local governments are increasingly working to provide user-friendly experiences to their constituents. People have become accustomed to finding information quickly and easily and completing tasks and transactions securely and intuitively. With a public that’s accustomed to the on-demand, instant gratification of private sector giants like Netflix and Amazon, local governments that provide crucial services have to catch up to meet their goal of serving the public.

Local governments are complex, and the process of digitizing services goes much deeper than, for instance, Netflix’s ability to put movies online. To get started, here are several key stages to digitizing local government.

The 5 Stages to Digitizing Government Services

Stage 1: Inform

This is the first step in becoming more accessible digitally. Put information online so that a constituent can find up-to-date information about accessing local government services. Read more >

Stage 2: Interact

Bring your activities online, like applying or paying for services. At this stage, user experience may still be fragmented. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Read more >

Use this checklist to guide your transition from a site that informs to one that interacts with constituents.

Stage 3: Integrate

By integrating digital forms directly to the underlying systems of record, like address databases and payment software, agencies maintain accurate records while saving hours of staff time. For services that end in a web payment, integration can mean connecting payment functionality with the service that precedes it. This enables you to present a consistent user interface for the form and payment on the same government domain. Read more > 

Use this checklist to get from interacting to integrating.

Stage 4: Automate

Automate back-end processes to save staff time on repetitive tasks, and provide faster responses to residents. Automation will help your team move through established workflows more quickly, and it can also help track processes that are already taking place. Read more >

Use this checklist to start automating common tasks.

Stage 5: Personalize

At this stage, you have the ability to both understand and respond to your constituents’ needs based on things like user profiles or location. The end goal when you digitize your government services should be to deliver your services in a differentiated way to each user group or even household. Read more >

Not sure which stage you’re at? Use this digital services evaluation checklist to see where you are, and what it looks like to take your website to the next level.

How to Get There

The above roadmap is not something one public servant or even one government agency can do independently. Here are some tips for moving through the process.

Adopt an iterative approach. You do not have to digitize everything at once. The journey can be completed in small steps. Prioritize cases based on goals, insights, and easier use cases. Rack up one success, and you’ll have an easier time gaining buy-in for your next project.

Find the ROI. Build around constituent needs and long-term success. Think about which services are most commonly used, which workflows are the most time consuming, and where the most common confusions lie to your constituency. These can be the best candidates for things like integration, automation, and personalization.  

Get the right stakeholders in the room. It takes a village to…run a village. Here are some key players to consider bringing into digital transformation initiatives.

  • Senior Management: Accelerate the process to obtain buy-in at the senior level. Getting senior management to articulate the organizational benefits with the rest of the organization will improve support for your digital transformation.
  • IT Department: IT is a crucial and collaborative stakeholder. Digital transformation does not mean a wholesale replacement of existing technologies. Closely collaborating with IT in an agile way will minimize any system roadblocks and smooth the path to a digital transformation.
  • Procurement: Bring procurement in early to come to a better mutual understanding of citywide priorities and budgeting, as well as agency-level needs. 
  • Human Resources: HR is aware of internal talent or can identify talent gaps to ensure that the digital transformation is fully staffed.
  • Marketing and Communications: This team is key to communicating the digital transformation to both internal and external users.
  • Agency Stakeholders: To ensure adoption, agency staff must be assured the pursuit of technology will make their jobs easier. And the best way to do that is to listen to what their pain points are. The goal is a mix of human innovation with advanced technology.
  • Constituents: Identify who you are aiming to assist digitally. Constituent questions will help guide which services are the most challenging to access, and user testing will ensure you’re meeting their needs. 

Digital transformation depends on championing an organization-wide vision and bringing the right players into the process. Delivering continuous improvement starts with a robust understanding of what needs to be done and who can add/gain to your digital transformation initiative.

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