“The common denominator for any inefficient process begins and ends with a piece of paper. What does this mean to today’s government, usually nothing.”
Darryl Wiggins, Principal DigiDoc dba PS2G
It is my contention that the obvious existence of inefficiency, in utilizing a paper based business process, has no bearing on the government’s motivation to change that fact. Most governments see statements about inefficiency, in paper based business processes, as hyperbole driven by people like me who simply want to transform government to a digital platform to subsequently drive our own profits.
At first glance, one could simply sum up this inertia to, “government-being-government”. But, it is my belief that the problem is a lot more complex than that.
Most industry based assertions, about the consequences of using paper-based business processes in government, are centered on the following:
- It cost hundreds of dollars to locate one piece of paper
- The cost of paper and file cabinets is becoming increasing too high to control
- The cost of office space associated with storing records is severely impacting government budgets. Too much government office space square footage is dedicated to storing paper.
“Too much government office space, square footage, is dedicated to storing paper.”
Although all of these statements are real and have significant impact on government operations, they have little to no impact on improving service deliver to constituents, the core reason for the existence of today’s highly functioning government.
The real truth is:
- The same filing cabinets have been around for decades and always will
- The buildings government use, more often than not, are owned by them and square footage cost is not a factor
- The cost of the time, associated with retrieving documents by government employees, is simply the eight hours they spend doing the job they were paid to do anyway.
The reason that eliminating paper means little to nothing, to government, is not because they don’t care; it is because we are asking the wrong questions.
Today’s government is faced with the daunting task of delivering services, to a growing population, who need access to information immediately.
That being said, governments need to implement the tools that provide one-on-one, customer driven experiences for its constituents. Government tools need to enable the collection of structured data.
Receiving structured data on the frontend enables government stakeholders to achieve the following:
- drive decisions based on analytics,
- Customize service delivery to citizens
- Enable the receipt of services when and where constituents need them
3 business benefits to eliminating paper
If process improvement isn’t a good enough reason to adopt technology, what is? The short answer is that there needs to be a business benefit to justify making a change. Here are three major ones to consider:
1. Mitigating risk:
Governments face daily lawsuit threats. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible for government to disprove claims of negligence or malfeasance because they don’t have concrete evidence to support their defense. As a result, governments spend billions of dollars a year in out-of-court settlements—even if they’re not at fault. Paper-based inspection forms and documentation aren’t adequate for the job, but digital records that include photographs can make all the difference when it comes to disproving liability claims.
2. Increasing productivity:
It’s hard to think of anything less efficient than a paper-based system. Let’s look at something as simple as a City restaurant inspection process. A government employee shows up with a printed form on a clipboard, marks down everything that the sheet asks (clean floors, working toilets, etc.) and scans, faxes or mails the form back to the head office where it is either typed into a computer or simply put in a folder in a filing cabinet. This kind of duplicative effort vanishes as soon as mobile devices replace paper because processes. All information is automatically captured in a single centralized system using an electronic form that is immediately passed through a workflow process the second it is saved…
3. Generating real business insight:
Everyone complains about “paperwork,” and it’s generally treated as an unpleasant exercise. But savvy leaders know that having the right information can help them make smart decisions to improve service delivery. Paper-based systems can’t create that kind of business intelligence because there is no good way to aggregate data and use it effectively.
In contrast, approaches that rely on computers and mobile devices create a single repository of information that is easy to analyze and turn into best practices, allowing government leaders to spot issues and best performers to resolve problems and replicate success with ease. And, when that information travels through workflows, it can be displayed in reporting dashboards that allow executives and managers to monitor the speed and health of the processes within their agencies.
Of course, there are many more reasons to move away from paper-based systems once and for all. But as long as going digital is seen as an incremental process improvement rather than a true driver of business value, governments are not going to automatically replace their old systems. The key is for public leaders, still utilizing processes dominated by pen and ink, to truly understand what they’re missing out on every time one of their employees picks up a clipboard rather than a tablet.
Here is one example:
Using DigiDoc’s EASI/pay automated accounts payable solution-By replacing paper in the invoicing process with a digital solution, governments have saved money when working with suppliers by organizing and consolidating payment procedures. By creating electronic document workflows, our public sector clients have been able to ensure approvals are made on invoices in a timely manner. In return, governments are now applying for sales discounts in exchange for early payments. On 1% or 2% 10/Net 30 terms, the buyer will reduce the price by 1% or 2% when payments are received within 10 days of the due date. These savings can add up over the cost of a year with help from electronic filing. A $10,000 invoice offering a 2% 10/Net 30 discount will save you $200 alone – and that’s just one invoice.
It’s time to go paperless with business automation in order to take your agency to the next level. Not only will you be able to automate paper driven business processes, but constituents can easily access government services, as part of the everyday business processes, while remaining environmentally conscious