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Editorials

How Much Time and Money Can Cities Save When They Go Digital?

Smart digitization for government operations can save both time and money for city clerks and administrators.

A lot of local government administrators balk at digitization projects, in part because they think going digital must be very expensive. Little do they know, governments that stick with manual processes actually end up spending more time and more money at the end of the day.

Choosing the right government software system for your needs should hinge on how it helps you deliver ROI to your residents. By focusing on customer journeys and finding the right partners, governments can move towards transformative change while also saving resources.

That’s all well and good, but how exactly does going digital help government officials save time and money?

Less Manual Processing

Traditional document processing requires a lot of manual processes. When a document finds its way to a clerk’s desk, it’s put into a queue with dozens of other requests. Each will need to be individually vetted, approved or denied, and organized in alignment with good document control practices.

That involves tools — printers, stamps, log books, filing cabinets — and, of course, labor. If payment is required, paper checks will need to be processed manually, then transported to a bank. If this sounds time-consuming, that’s because it is. Between supplies, tools, and labor, a big chunk of any city’s budget goes into document processing.

Many digital systems rely on the same sort of manual processing, but use different tools — Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, etc. These solutions might seem faster at first glance, but they still require printing, faxing, and a heavy paper trail for office workers.

That’s part of why choosing the right platform is so important. Agile cloud based SaaS options automatically update to stay in line with best practices. They automate operations and applications submissions that don’t need direct oversight, all without making constituents leave the webpage to handle payment processing.

Everyone — constituents and clerks alike — save time this way. Constituents are happy because they can pay their bills and make requests easily with no printing, no checks, and a shorter processing time. City admins have their workloads slashed, allowing them to dedicate time to more important tasks.

Less manual processing also means less physical storage. Storing information in the cloud opens up a lot of room in City Hall. Filing cabinets, bankers’ boxes, even private municipal intranet servers all take up space. As cities grow, a lot of governments are stuck housing physical media off-site, paying a premium rate for climate-controlled storage spaces to keep their information safe.

Better Organization

Lost documents directly impact your bottom line. Time lost and the cost of resubmission and processing add up quickly. In a study that involved millions of documents, SeamlessGov found that governments paid out $50 per incorrect form and $70 for every lost form.

In addition, when your department offers vital services to vulnerable populations, lost documents can result in significant upheaval in their lives.

Finding a partner who can help organize processing and storage isn’t easy. Governments face a lot of requirements and regulations that private businesses don’t. That’s why many cities are choosing specialty turn-key integrations designed just for government.

Easy Payments

Automation through digital platforms allows citizens to pay tickets, taxes, or utility bills with the city online without the need for processing and approval. No trips to the bank, no checks, no delivery, no problem. The time saved in these processes is an easy win for digitization.

There’s more, however. A lot of municipalities end up paying thousands of dollars per year to big banks and credit card companies to cover fees for their constituents. In many instances, they aren’t getting a fair rate either. That’s money taken out of the budget that could go toward parks or playgrounds. That’s why some automated document solutions let governments easily pass the cost of payment processing along to their constituents.

When staring down tight margins and rising costs, government officials will avoid big projects, even if those projects will reduce their costs in the long run. This applies to digitization as much as major infrastructure projects. By reducing complexity and streamlining implementation, turnkey solutions designed for governments help reduce costs and speed up the process right from the get-go.

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