5 Ways Document Automation is Transforming Government - - AppExchange
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5 Ways Document Automation is Transforming Government

The public sector faces a bit of a paradox when it comes to technology.

It's a space where some of the most critical data about people is routinely collected and stored. Long before the internet, government agencies at the federal, state and local levels were creating and collecting records about individual citizens in order to serve them. But despite being so data-driven, the public sector is for numerous reasons consistently behind the technological curve set by the private sector – especially on the levels of local and state government. There, people can be skittish about investing tax dollars in tech initiatives, regulatory demands slow down the pace of innovation and bringing on highly-skilled, competitive staff can be difficult.

But the advent of cloud-based, automated solutions is allowing the public sector to finally catch up; offering solutions as secure, efficient and dynamic as what the top private-sector companies are using.

In fact, in a recent Leading Edge webinar, two panelists with a ton of experience working in the upper echelons of public sector technology discussed how the cloud is already beginning to make those notorious types of government inefficiency we all joke about, like the lines at the DMV, a thing of the past. Andrew Bartels, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, and former Acting Director for New Media Technologies at the White House, Rusty Pickens. Here are a few of the key improvements they identified that have begun to arrive on the scene of the public sector as cloud-based digital transformation catches on.

1. Automation is Letting The Government Meet Citizen Needs

Doing technology the old way in government, like managing a room full of servers in-house, takes time and money – and Mr. Pickens has seen up close how devoting resources to this kind of model detracts from government being able to do what it's there for.

"I've seen a lot of where the government spent so much time … trying to run the operational efforts of the servers and that's not the business they should be in – they need to be servicing the citizens," said Mr. Pickens.

Digital transformation allows government organizations to outsource these labor-intensive, skill-demanding tasks to some of the biggest and most trusted names in computing, who make it their business to manage things correctly. Then rather than technology being labor- and capital-intensive, it becomes a big enabler for high-quality customer service.

2. Federal Standards Are Filtering Down

In 2009 and 2010, as Mr. Pickens discussed, the federal government did a great deal of work in conceptualizing how the cloud could be leveraged to securely meet citizens' needs. This was the first time in the nation's history that there was a CIO and a CTO on the federal level.

From this, FedRAMP was born to provide guidance on how cloud systems must be architected if they want to provide services to federal institutions. But the federal government isn't the only level of the public sector that's benefitting from these regulatory advances. FedRAMP sets the standard for the federal government, but Mr. Bartels pointed out that state and local institutions that are migrating operations to cloud are likewise looking for FedRAMP-certified vendors to partner with; ensuring them a top-tier cybersecurity profile and an adherence to best practices.

It's with this in mind that SpringCM has adopted FedRAMP standards – making it a tool suitable not just for federal contract and document management, but any public sector organization that needs that level of security.

3. Digital Transformation is Enabling Smart Living

While at first blush migrating data and services to the cloud might sound like something that primarily impacts how things work in the back of government offices, rather than individual households, Mr. Bartels explained how it's impacting citizens quite directly - by bringing down their water bills.

Implementing digital water meters in a municipality that collect real-time usage data, and giving homeowners access to the information, has given residents unprecedented transparency into their water usage. Instead of getting a big surprise at the end of the month, they can fix a leaking pipe or malfunctioning sprinkler system; preventing waste and – just as importantly – the high cost that comes with it.

"That changes the whole way our citizens can engage with us," said Mr. Bartels. "Instead of waiting for the monthly bill, to say, 'ok now we can actually see what it is and manage it.' And that matters."

4. Contracting is a Perfect Starting Point for Digital Transformation

In order to pursue digital transformation effectively, it's important for any organization to first identify needs that are common across all agencies for streamlining. In a public sector organization, just as in a private sector one, contracting and document management processes fit that description perfectly. Every department throughout a public sector enterprise has a foundation of contracts that it rests on. The data can be easily migrated to the cloud, And Mr. Bartels suggested that contracting is a place where the cloud can not only make things easier to find, but can drastically improve outcomes with automation.

Cloud-based contracting and document management solutions like SpringCM allow for a level of transparency that's impossible to achieve with paper contracts sitting in numerous different offices, or even on numerous in-house servers. So for public sector organizations, cloud-based contracting solutions allows them not just to be more accurate, but to be more compliant by the letter of the law.

5. Public Sector Digital Transformation is Here

State and local governments are continuing to realize that moving critical, difficult-to-manage services to the cloud can help them do what they do better – and with the federal standards there to guide them, they can do it as securely as any private sector enterprise. Digital transformation done right means more efficient technology, and more efficient technology means more efficient government. That's translating into better service – and even new services – for citizens.

So whether it's streamlining contract processes and document management or some other cumbersome manual process, a move to the cloud frees up people in-house to focus on the customer.  

Gary Wootten is the VP of Public Sector at SpringCM. SpringCM enables document collaboration and automation across the organization, all on its scalable and FedRAMP authorized document management platform. 

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