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After the Avondale, Arizona, IT department automated its IT service desk, other departments are lining up to see how they can take advantage of the technology.
Finding workflow pain points and streamlining processes for employees can help create an “automation-first mentality” in state and local government, IT leaders said.
Automating the “low-hanging fruit,” like processes that require a lot of manual, time-consuming work for staff and customers, should be tackled first, said Andrew Graf, chief product officer for enterprise software company TeamDynamix. The human resources onboarding process, for example, takes city staff more than 35 hours per employee, said Jeff Scheetz, chief information officer for Avondale, Arizona.
Automating a process that causes a major headache for government employees not only produces tangible results, but it can also help convince other agency leaders to try automation and create a domino effect, Graf said.
“What we see develop is what we call an automation-first mentality,” Graf said during a Dec. 7 webinar hosted by MeriTalk. “When we're thinking about a service and someone says, ‘Hey, I'm unsatisfied with the service we have, or we have a new service to implement,’ the first thing we ask is, what can we automate for this service that will improve the results for the customer and their satisfaction and reduce strain and burden.”
Many cities have automated their IT service desks to reduce the email sent back and forth and help employees resolve common problems on their own. Avondale employees can submit requests, which are then automatically routed to the most appropriate IT staffer.
Scheetz said automating the process around submitting requests and assigning them to staff has “revolutionized” the city’s IT service desk. Now, he said, IT managers can analyze the data to see which types of requests are most common. Staff can then “tweak” their service catalog so they know the best ways to serve customer needs.
Since automating the service desk, “word got out” about how it has helped, Scheetz said, and other agencies in Avondale want to replicate the IT department’s success.The IT department helped the city’s HR and security departments automate some of their processes, all in a bid to help reduce a backlog of work orders and better prioritize agency needs.
Despite the automation success stories, Graf said he recognizes that it will not be possible to automate everything in city and state government, as human interactions are still required in many areas. If governments go overboard in automating their processes, he said there is a risk users “would perceive automation as a negative.”