Challenges of Serving Constituents
Well before the recent remote work explosion, state and local governments had a significant challenge delivering services through broad remote workforces. Many workers such as engineers, social workers, law enforcement, or any number of other constituent service workers spent much of their day in the field. Regardless, those workers still had work to complete to update systems. Since it was time-consuming, constituent services were often delayed.
Over time, some managing software systems offered dedicated fieldwork features, occasionally implemented using custom or proprietary hardware devices. While those features worked well for the specific application, their proprietary nature often made them difficult and expensive to support. Devices became obsolete, release upgrades were generally difficult, and customization was impossible.
The Need for Flexibility
Work processes change. Laws and ordinances change. The challenge of managing fieldwork is very dynamic and the key to keeping up with ever-changing needs is having a fieldwork automation platform that easily adapts to change.
Another key automation platform requirement is the ability to interact with staff on non-proprietary devices such as smartphones and mass-market tablets. Virtually every field worker carries a smartphone, either their own personal one or one supplied by the agency. Those powerful computers have incredible potential for streamlining daily work.
Low-Code Platforms Simplify and Improve Remote Work
Modern automation platforms provide low-code and, sometimes, no-code ways to implement workflows, staff interaction, and integration with the broader software ecosystem. Imagine field staff receiving a list of work to do. After selecting the item related to where they are in the field, they supply inputs, capture collected documents, and take other actions necessary to complete the task. The back end manages software updates in real-time. Analytics reporting shows exactly how the field staff is serving the constituency.
To quickly build systems that can support any kind of work, intelligent automation platforms bring together five different technology areas: process orchestration, document automation, human engagement, robotic process automation, and analytics. Using simple configuration and assembly techniques, less-technical staff can create applications that streamline work and add management capabilities never thought possible.
Making Work Easier – A Day in the Life
Consider a day in the life of field property appraisal specialists. At the beginning of the workday, they open a smartphone app or web page. A list of property addresses scheduled for inspection appears, sorted in order of distance from the specialist’s current location. Selecting the first address, they travel to the location and conduct the property inspection and other tasks noted on the schedule item. They may take pictures, complete a form, or update values in the property’s appraisal record. At the end of the visit, they capture any documents using the smartphone camera. Those images, along with any pictures, transfer to the managing application software. They choose the next address in the list and repeat the process.
Building such an application is straightforward and simple with today’s intelligent automation platforms.
A Real-life Example
The human services division of one of the top 50 most populous counties in the country had the vision to remove barriers for residents and simplify access to support services. One major roadblock was the process of filling out forms and getting them and any supporting documentation to the division for processing. There was a burden on residents to drop paperwork at designated locations or for county field workers to carry documents holding sensitive information into the office.
The division turned to its intelligent automation platform as a solution foundation. They first applied process orchestration and document automation to sort through all incoming content and route it to the proper individual or department. Integration with state and county electronic case file systems supplies up-to-date information to caseworkers.
While the automation simplified county internal processes, residents still had to get forms and documents to their caseworker or to a county service center. By using capabilities in the automation platform, the county added document capture and other engagement capabilities to an app on the county-owned smartphone each caseworker carries. Now in many instances, documents are captured right at the resident’s kitchen table. Documents and case information are available almost immediately to use in other processes and workflows, compared to the two weeks often needed prior to implementing mobile automation.
The Advantages of Intelligent Automation
One of the core advantages of implementing intelligent automation is its ability to record every action, both human and system. Analyzing that recorded data certainly helps management understand things like staffing needs and constituent service levels. The data also highlights potential ways to eliminate bottlenecks, improve processes, and otherwise enhance delivery to the public.
Intelligent automation solves many of today’s state and local government process challenges. In particular, the right platform can deliver economically workable ways to address the challenges associated with managing staff in the field. Low-code and no-code development capabilities make automating any practice or procedure simple and fast. Once that is in place, those simpler and streamlined ways for staff to deliver services will always lead to more satisfied constituents.