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Start Small But Dream Big for Citizen Services

Local governments can make an inventory of their assets and consider their resources in terms of time, funds and talent to determine how to best grow citizen services. Forge partnerships and invite creative thinking to achieve these goals.

Don’t be afraid to dream big when it comes to citizen services.

Citizens now expect government services to be available wherever and whenever they may be without any headaches. But local governments face technical debt that only grows as agencies increase their operations burden to fulfill citizen demands.

But local officials can still dream of running a marathon in citizen services even if they are not yet crawling. To do so, agencies must escape binary thinking. There is no use in believing that a municipality should not even start a project if they cannot fully complete it.

Take a Deep Dive into Government Assets

The first step is to have a good understanding of current assets. Create an updated inventory of challenges, assets and opportunities. Consider that once you begin movement on a project, you can achieve momentum that will help carry that project forward. And contemplate how you can free resources — including time, money and talent — to achieve project goals.

Once you have a list of assets, think about what has the most value and what has the least effort. You may look at a wish list and say, “This has been on the top of my list for a few years,” but you should look at your list with fresh eyes and rate its value today.

Roughly 20 percent of your initiatives are going to fall into a category where you aren’t going to grow them. That doesn’t mean you have to stop supporting them. But they are not going to evolve. Perhaps they have reached peak efficiency given their value. Maintain them and keep them alive but do nothing more. By making these determinations, you are beginning to see clearly where you can focus investments that make a difference.

On the other side of the fence, you’ll see quick wins — things that you can achieve with minimum investment that may have a big payoff.

Weigh What to Cut and How to Grow

Seize the opportunity to make those quick wins a reality. Use quick wins to build partnerships. Get buy-in from agency stakeholders on creating momentum and facilitating services. Continually share results to give partners a sense of accomplishment and highlight those true achievements.

When digging deeper into your assets, consider how you might modernize applications and then recover some time and efficiency from them. When assessing data center operations, for example, it may not be necessary to migrate everything to the cloud. But perhaps establishing failover to the cloud in the event of a disaster. So, you’ve gained enormous value from having a disaster recovery solution in place, and you only pay for that time you need it when disaster strikes. Even such an incremental step yields success.

As you examine your assets and your projects wish list, don’t be afraid to circle back and look at them again as you move through them. You can adjust your goals on what you’ve learned on your deep dives into your inventory. Keep thinking about how people use your resources and how you solve problems for them. For small agencies that are facing constant demands, build morale and create partnerships with your peers. This will make a tremendous difference.

Ask Partners for Creative Solutions

Think outside of the box. If license costs have been increasing for an application, perhaps cut that application and find ways to work without it. Maybe discharge features that you don’t truly need. Or reduce an enterprise license to a single use and consequently minimize the ubiquity of the application.

Ask your partners for creative solutions. Explain your roadblocks and limitations. Be prudent but think in terms of building momentum. Ask vendors to be true partners and to work with you in achieving your dreams. Target incremental progress. Start a proof-of-concept. Make something small; make it in-house and see how it might grow.

Value is alignment to the government’s mission. For local governments, the mission is to serve citizens. Examine how projects help to achieve those goals — not due to technical merits but because of its value from a citizen’s perspective.

Dream big on behalf of your citizens.

Asim Iqbal

CTO of Enquizit
Asim is currently a Director at CDW. He was Enquizit’s CTO and a member of the founding team. He has been a SME on security, storage, and resilience as well as Enquizit’s Lead Architect and VP of Solution Architecture.