Connecting state and local government leaders
COMMENTARY | When government staff can quickly create their own digital applications, they can improve customer experience and meet operational needs.
Residents can point to plenty of “meh” digital interactions with the government, especially at small local and state agencies. Want to apply for a license? Fill out a cumbersome and cluttered PDF form, email it to a government office and wait for a reply. For agency staff at the licensing authority, the process can be just as frustrating. Any misplaced, misdirected or lost application means digging through hundreds of emails to answer a question about an application.
On the other hand, consider a more pleasant interaction where a resident logs into a portal, applies for a license through an online form (which works equally well on a phone), gets regular text notifications on the progress of the application and then downloads the license with a click from the citizen portal once it is ready.
Unfortunately, too many state and local governments are stuck in the “meh” rut. An Accenture study found that 53% of consumers and public service workers interviewed found it frustrating to access public services.
Public sector administrators need to know that delivering seamless digital experiences at par with the private sector does not have to mean prolonged battles with IT departments, months-long implementations or bloated budgets. A new generation of “no-code” workflow automation technologies allow process owners to create their own digital applications in a matter of days or weeks—both for delivering public services and streamlining operations across departments.
What is No-Code Automation Software?
As the term no-code suggests, users need no coding expertise to use this class of software, and a basic familiarity with computers suffices. It is like a Lego kit for building information systems that automate an organization’s processes. It might sound complex, but it is actually pretty simple.
Broadly, no-code workflow automation software consists of three parts. First, all information systems have a data collection and organization part, where, for example, a procurement specialist issues a purchase order or a citizen fills out a complaint form. Simple drag-and-drop interfaces in no-code software allow program owners to determine what information needs to be captured on a form and what the information looks like to the agency workers who process it.
The second part of an information system is workflow automation, which describes how the information flows through different stages of a process, changes and evolves and is presented to different people who interact with it. Simple “if-this-happens-then-do-this” tools allow program owners to determine how data flows in the organization, assign tasks and responsibilities to different staff members at different stages of a process and notify appropriate stakeholders.
Finally, an information system is effective only if it allows the organization to learn and gain insights from historical information and use it to improve processes. No-code software includes visual reporting and analytics features that can give a bird’s eye view of the operation and highlight trends and patterns.
No-Code Applications for State and Local Agencies
Agency staff can create applications tuned to the needs of a wide range of public sector services and operational needs. Most no-code software already offers a variety of templates for public sector agencies that can be tweaked and customized, saving significant development time. Some template examples are:
- Licenses, permits and benefits processing portals where constituents can apply for services and track the progress of their applications.
- Citizen feedback and public surveys that allow agencies to get citizen input into matters of public importance.
- Case management applications that track, process and resolve cases related to delivering social housing, child services or providing disaster relief.
- Alerts and notifications that can be sent to the public and important stakeholders via email and text message.
- Data sharing functions for collaboration with internal and external stakeholders for budgets, census, transportation and public safety.
Benefits of No-Code Automation Software
Although there is often inertia and resistance to change in public sector agencies, no-code software is appealing at multiple levels. It is easy to learn, quick to deploy, and is easier on the pocket Plus, it can plug into legacy systems where needed.
With no-code, applications are created by process owners who fully understand the program rather than by the agency IT department. Since process owners have control, the application can be refined and adjusted as the process evolves and new insights are gained from historical data.
The cloud-based technology also contributes to improving internal efficiency and productivity within agencies because it gives even remote team members real-time, concurrent and role-based access to data.
No-code automation software is also aligned with the final goal of public sector organizations: delivering better governance to citizens. A McKinsey study found that government customers are on average nine times more likely to trust a government agency if they are satisfied with its service.
In conclusion, no-code workflow automation software is a powerful tool that can help state and local agencies deliver better governance to citizens and improve internal efficiency and productivity. With no-code software, process owners can create their own digital applications in a matter of days or weeks, without the need for coding expertise. This can help agencies to break free from the legacy systems and processes that are holding them back and deliver the kind of seamless digital experiences that citizens have come to expect.
Pankaj Taneja is director of marketing at HyperOffice.com.