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Migrating Your Government Services to Digital: Getting Started

Mike Shoag

Vice President, Government Services, Forum One

Co-authored by Brian Stewart, Senior Government Executive, Siteimprove

Modernization can change the way you serve your clients, reduce work for staff, and help better achieve your mission and goals. There are a number of drivers for migrating your government services to digital such as the Integrated Digital Experience ACT (IDEA). It aims to improve the digital experience for end-users while formalizing standards to ensure federal government websites provide cohesive, user-friendly online services that people around the country expect and deserve. 

No matter your budget, modernization allows you to improve the way you spend your resources wisely. Start with thinking about what services you have that are digital or need to move to digital. How can you better serve your customers using a digital platform and how can that positively impact your agency or organization?

When done correctly, there are many advantages to modernization— reduced staff time on paperwork, streamlined processes, and payments, improved integration with other systems and data, happier end-users, using inclusive language, and better tracking and reporting—  that add up to the opportunity to gain tremendous efficiencies. The biggest advantage of digital modernization—by far—is that you can have a bigger impact. 

Where to start 

Processes grow organically over time and can create cumbersome systems, which is why the key to modernization is NOT to replicate the exact system you have now. Give yourself and your team permission to think about how your current processes do and do not serve you. This is your opportunity to streamline, improve, and start fresh with your modernization efforts.

Part of this process will include creating an inventory of the services, with distinction as to whether they are currently digital or not, and how the modernization of these services will help contribute to achieving your mission. This will help you prioritize what to focus on first, your mission, and how the modernization effort can contribute to it. 

Once you have a clear list of where modernization is needed, you need to take into account three essential elements: people, processes, and technology. In this post, we will focus on the “people” element of your organization’s digital modernization. 

Focus on people

Your modernization efforts must serve your staff and the end-users effectively to be worthwhile. By understanding your staff needs and their skills in tandem with understanding how modernization will help achieve your mission, you are more apt to create a system that staff can use to be more effective, efficient, and happy. When considering your end users, we encourage you to think big but start small. You can think big by identifying a small number of high-priority tasks your users need to complete.  As you develop the new system, build on what’s working well with the current system and look for opportunities to streamline the process. You can look to, and talk to, similar organizations about how they successfully streamlined systems.

Hear from your users

Systems that consider the people who will be using them are typically better received and have higher engagement from audiences. Determine three to five primary audiences and create a feedback mechanism such as interviews, focus groups, or surveys to understand why they use the service, areas they find difficult or frustrating, and what you could do to help them better meet their goals.

This is really valuable data that can be used to understand change management challenges and insight that’s helpful when speaking to leadership for support in modernization. Quotes from these conversations can help you make the case for ways in which your systems may need to change to meet your audience’s needs. 

In our next post, we’ll cover the processes and technology elements of modernizing your government services! You can also watch a recording of our recent Website Modernization webinar to get more insights!

Written By

Mike Shoag

Vice President, Government Services, Forum One

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