Blog

Migrating Your Government Services to Digital: Process and Technology

Mike Shoag

Vice President, Government Services, Forum One

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

In our previous blog post, we discussed what modernization is and its advantages, how to get started, and how to approach the people aspect when creating your modernization plan. In this post, we focus on the processes and technology of migrating your government services to digital.

Streamlining and improving your processes 

One of the goals of modernization should be to streamline and improve processes. Improving your process will be critical to the perceived success of your modernization. It will also help gain buy-in if it makes life easier for staff and end-users. You can start by conducting an internal audit of your current system and process. You may ask the following:

  • Define what ways manual tasks are completed today. Can these be automated?
  • How often are there mistakes that need to be fixed? Are there ways we can eliminate the need for remediation? 
  • Are you using disconnected tools that require you to piece together data from different sources?  This may provide a chance to connect things. 
  • Is there one source of truth between current tools?  Or do you have to sometimes search to figure out which data is correct? What type of friction does this cause?
  • How do you create content for our visitors now? Can that process be improved?
  • How are you sharing analytics information to drive our content strategy? 

You may also conduct usability testing on the current process to see where people get confused, give up, or have to ask for help and look at helpdesk tickets or emails to see where people need help with the current process.

Before you create requirements for your new system, it will be helpful to understand the current system. It may be well documented, or it may be old enough that nobody is really sure what is going on behind the code. To get a truly holistic understanding of the current systems, answer the following:

  • What do you need to keep?
  • What can you leave out?
  • What are connections to other systems?

Additionally, it will be useful to understand current  governance processes for adding, updating, and removing content. Gain a full picture of who develops and enforces  governance policies such as branding standards and website guidelines. If not you don’t have a point person for these policies and processes or the processes in place at all, your modernization effort is a good time to create this documentation and assign roles. These will ensure standardization and a better end-user experience.

At this stage, you should have all you need to  start defining  requirements for the new system. This should include your goals, what the system needs to accomplish, other systems it will integrate with, and reporting requirements. You’ll also need enough detail that people can give you a cost estimate for the work. The key is for the requirements to define what needs to be done, but let the person executing the work decide the approach to accomplishing the work. 

Choosing the right technology

It is important to eliminate confusion that comes with disconnected toolsets and help bring collaboration front and center. You may work for an organization where you can select any technology you want or your organization may have standards around which technologies they want to support. Start with understanding your options and the pros and cons of each.

There are a number of ways to determine which technology would be right for your organization and your project. Ask internal experts about your options so that you know right away where you are limited or not. Many government agencies are currently trying to consolidate systems, and this is something you would want to know before you spent a lot of time and effort choosing a technology they can’t support. You could also ask external experts through a formal request for information (RFI) what they recommend you should use in your situation. You could also make part of the RFP a decision on which technology to use, so the group or vendor that is building it will help you decide which option is best suited to your situation. The underlying technology will have big implications for what you can do, how easy it will be to create, modify, and integrate with, so it is important to be intentional and informed before making the decision. 

Consolidating your technology suite

Many organizations are trying to consolidate the set of technology they use to ensure they can deliver quality service to their internal and external audiences. During this process, you’ll want to make sure:

  • Is it a user friendly solution
  • It integrates with other systems as required
  • It meets your staff and user needs easily
  • You get buy-in from others who will need to use it before you mandate it

Now that you have your technology, requirements, and understand your audiences, you need to understand how to create your new system in a way that doesn’t just get the job done, but provides a fulfilling and delightful user experience. The technology you choose can impact collaboration when you think about factors such as:

  • Integrating within your work environment
  • Ease-of-use for people with varying skill sets 
  • The ability to produce usable data and reports
  • Customizable dashboards that ensure you are using the systems as they re intended

You can’t improve what’s not being measured!

Creating key performance indicators (KPIs) in terms of user experience, usability, accessibility, and equity will prove an invaluable way to determine if you are. 

You can get a free Insights Report from Siteimprove for a personalized look at the performance of your website. Siteimprove’s team of experts will conduct a customized audit of your website’s health and benchmark and compare it to other government agencies. 

Takeaways

We know it may seem daunting to think about a modernization effort, but if you break it down into chunks it is completely doable. 

  • First, understand your internal capabilities. If you don’t have the internal resources to complete the project, then reach out to an expert and have them help you. 
  • Second, you’ll need to baseline your current system. Know how it works, what parts should be kept, where the pain points are, and what you can leave behind. Don’t try to replace it exactly—this is your opportunity to streamline and improve it.
  • Lastly, talk to the end users. They are going to give you extremely valuable feedback about what is working, what isn’t, and how to improve the overall process. You’ll learn a ton in the process.

We’re happy to discuss your next government modernization project with you.

Written By

Mike Shoag

Vice President, Government Services, Forum One

Need help getting started migrating your government services to digital?

Let’s chat!