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Articles April 7, 2020

Addressing the Now and Digitizing Your Agency for the Future

Adam Hofheimer
Adam Hofheimer

The COVID-19 pandemic has created much uncertainty and, along with it, dramatic changes to the way organizations work. State and local government agencies are facing significant new challenges during these extraordinary times, while still dealing with ongoing setbacks or roadblocks from their legacy IT systems and limited resources.

Here’s the good news. There are a number of best practices that agencies can put into place now to address immediate needs, while thoughtfully beginning to modernize for the future.


Start At The Top

Leadership plays a critical role in guiding their agencies through this crisis while putting them on the path to digital transformation. Leaders must demonstrate empathy and be transparent with primary stakeholders – citizens, employees, and communities. But they must also take quick, decisive actions to manage today’s complexities. Most importantly, leaders should share a vision for the long term, thinking strategically about how their agencies weather the storm and ensure they are well positioned for the future with digital solutions at the core.

Enhance the Citizen Experience

Constituents want information; however, in many ways, it may be difficult to provide information in the current environment. Consider adopting some Agile principles, which create efficiencies and accelerate delivery:

Emphasize regular communication. Your citizens want to hear from you and appreciate transparency. Let them know how you’re working to improve the situation and planning for the long term.

Focus on quick hits. Concentrate on high-volume services or the greatest areas of need so that you’re able to break up initiatives into small, attainable blocks of work. Consider technology you already have, or that can be adopted quickly, that can help you achieve quick wins. Starting small and achieving early successes will make changes and new technologies easier to scale across the agency.

Be flexible. In any time of change, whether in a crisis or throughout a digital transformation, it’s important to recognize that things may not go smoothly at all times. Successful leaders plan to fail fast and learn from mistakes while emphasizing impactful delivery for an exceptional citizen experience.

Engage Employees

Many government workers are not used to working remotely and may be unsure of how to operate in a nontraditional way. Providing the necessary support and enabling success in this new environment will be critical, as will continuously reviewing and looking for ways to improve. In the near term, look to platforms that keep workers engaged, active, and focused on delivery:

Encourage knowledge sharing. Leverage knowledge-based tools that facilitate virtual information sharing. Longer term, consider trainings to showcase new technologies and ensure employees are comfortable with digital work environments.

Harness best-practices for team collaboration. Encourage a “standard operating day” through a digital approach with daily check-ins, and by creating clear guidelines for how to be efficient and effective in a remote work environment. Utilize virtual collaboration tools such as Skype, WebEx, and Microsoft Teams.

In thinking about a more comprehensive digital transformation, consider ways to engage workers in your planning and building a case for change; they will be deeply familiar with the existing processes. Employees can also be actively involved in the design and implementation of new technology applications.

Modernize … as Much as You Can

One third of state IT systems are “old and broken,” while 14% are undergoing modernization, according to the Center for Digital Government. Dated legacy systems, typically 20 or more years old, can slow down your agency. And, let’s face it, your constituents live in a digital world and expect the same intuitive experience they receive from the commercial sector.

Fortunately, paper-based practices can be transferred to digital processes, rethought, transformed, and streamlined to be more efficient than ever. Now might not seem the best time to begin a full-scale digital transformation, but if your legacy systems are not capable of managing the issues posed by this crisis, that’s a major indicator that you’re overdue for a modernization initiative. If your modernization efforts are already underway, this is not the time to shelve technology projects; instead, increase momentum, even if the timeline is a few years out.

In the short term, explore the possibility of your agency providing employees with laptops so that they can provide the best possible customer service while working from home. Also consider quickly implementing technologies to build or improve self-service applications.

Digitize for the Future

This is the time to build a modern architecture, containerize components for portability, and rapidly scale using Cloud-based platforms to streamline paper-driven processes. In fact, our experience suggests that for those agencies with more sophisticated, Cloud-based platforms, their efforts are paying off. They’re enabling employees to work from home without missing a beat – and better serving stakeholders.

But for those agencies that have not started, we suggest starting small and thinking big. Iterative processes allow for a step-by-step application of new technologies. Your agency can embrace a data-driven operating model while improving organizational processes and supporting information systems overall.

Today, you likely feel reactive, but the best path forward is to be proactive. The balancing act of daily priorities may be trickier than ever, but this may also be the time to ignite innovation and plan for the future.


Adam Hofheimer

Adam Hofheimer

Principal, Lead for Healthcare and Public Services

Adam co-leads CapTech’s healthcare and public services portfolios, supporting strategy, relationship and business development. His deep technical experience and industry expertise drive solutions and growth for our clients.

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