In an age of declining budgets and increasing expectations of responsiveness and transparency, federal government agencies need to embrace new approaches to connecting with their constituents.
Government entities like the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, and the USDA are all eschewing their legacy document and correspondence management systems in favor of web-based platforms that are more adaptable, extensible, and supportive of the realities of today’s work environment.
The systems of yesterday–clusters of on-premises, siloed solutions that needed ongoing maintenance and costly upgrades to meet evolving demands and regulations–brought on a host of challenges. In particular, they:
- Couldn’t support automation for assigning actions and routing requests to the right department or person.
- Didn’t integrate with third-party platforms to enable wider, more efficient collaboration.
- Lacked the security capabilities necessary for protecting sensitive information and compliancy for transferring permanent records to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The result was that information from applications, requests, or complaints such as names, addresses, video or audio files, and signatures had to be manually processed–assuming the document reached the right department in the first place. Agencies couldn’t offer high-value centralized resources like online forums or other help centers that promote constituent self-service and reduce the number of low-level inquiries or questions because their communications applications weren’t integrated. And they couldn’t adequately manage outbound communications such as courtesy reminders, declined application notices, or other status announcements in a timely manner much for the same reason.
Though digital transformation has long been a hot-button topic for the private sector, federal agencies also need a modern, cloud-based integrated solution for automating request routing, increasing correspondence efficiency, and improving responsiveness to their constituents’ needs.
Using automation to increase efficiency, responsiveness, and cost management
The old ways of government business was inefficient and wrought with risk; modernization efforts must start with a focus on improving efficiency and correspondence lifecycle management effectiveness.
Cloud-based correspondence systems are ideal for meeting these objectives because they feature rapid deployment, automation capabilities to reduce resource-intensive manual data management, and dynamic scale to meet the unique demands of a particular department or agency. Microsoft Dynamics 365 and SharePoint, for example, offer best-of-breed technologies.
- Automating digital document authoring and version control.
- Routing approvals and assigning tasks.
- Robust dashboarding and reporting for real-time visibility to boost efficiency.
They also integrate with third-party tools like scanning, optical character recognition (OCR) software, and redaction apps to further reduce manual data entry. And they work seamlessly with popular email and communications platforms like Microsoft Outlook or third-party apps to enable automated, multi-channel outbound messaging such as reminders, approvals, and status updates as well.
The upshot is that agencies can enjoy a broad ecosystem of complementary, interoperable tools that dramatically improve performance, cost management, and security of sensitive information. Meanwhile, constituents seeking assistance or applying for service no longer have to worry whether their application or submission was received, completed correctly, or processed and can expect greater responsiveness and agility from their government services.
Modernizing communications and correspondence management with cloud-based solutions helps the public sector overcome one of its most pressing challenges: better balancing its interactions of people, processes, and documents.
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