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How IT Wins with Low-Code Dynamic Work Management in Local Government

Written By: Isaac Sacolick
June 18, 2024
6 min read

Local government IT departments are overwhelmed with work supporting every department’s technology, application, and data requirements. There’s a way for IT leaders to be government heroes by creating next-generation applications, workflows, and integrations without custom coding or buying hundreds of SaaS tools.

Municipality and county governments have dozens of departments, including emergency services, public works, transportation, parks, building departments, health services, and many others. Then, add on administrative functions, including finance, human resources, procurement, and legal. All of these departments clamor for application upgrades, new SaaS tools and data visualization dashboards, while IT is often understaffed just keeping the lights on production systems.

State and local IT spending is projected to increase to $177 billion by 2028, a 36% increase over six years, but these numbers can be misleading. A big part of IT budgets pays for the people, networks, building infrastructure, end-user computing, and other core systems. When state and local governments make IT investments, they tend to spend a lot in key areas, such as the Philadelphia's $11 million budget for records digitization or Chicago’s $15 million budget for water management billing and information system support.

Falling behind are the investments to reduce every department’s Gray Work – lost time and ineffective workflows leading to lost productivity and increased busy work from legacy applications, ad-hoc solutions, spreadsheets, emails, long meetings, or swivel chairing when employees enter data across multiple systems.

Local Governments Win With Dynamic Work Management

SaaS is an option for some of the more complex or sensitive data-rich workflows in emergency services, health, and probation. However, selecting department-specific SaaS solutions for common workflows, work that spans multiple departments, and simple citizen-facing applications often creates integration work and can be expensive to support.

A better option is to invest in a Dynamic Work Management platform and form agile teams with subject matter experts, citizen developers in business functions, and IT employees. These teams leverage a no-code platform to build apps, develop dashboards, create integrations, and automate processes that drive productivity and improve experiences.

One example is the District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, which, as of 2022, had 178 no-code applications running on Quickbase and saved over $7.5 million in application development and deployment costs.

Examples of Dynamic Work Applications

Some dynamic work applications are department-specific but should have integrations with other departments’ workflows. Other applications are multi-use platforms, where departments have common workflow patterns but may require department-specific data, roles, and integrations.

Below are seven example applications where Digital Trailblazers in county and municipal governments can spearhead transformation to dynamic work management.

1. Contract Management

Several departments are typically involved in reviewing contracts, including the sponsoring department, procurement, risk management, budget, and legal. Tracking the status and ensuring contract review doesn’t get snagged in bottlenecks is a common problem, as is tracking document changes and attachments during negotiation. Contract management is an example of dynamic work because the regulations and business rules often vary based on the contract’s size and complexity.

2. Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS)

Many departments, such as IT, public works, facilities management, and emergency services, track the maintenance schedule of their equipment and other assets. While there are specialized systems to manage assets and maintenance schedules, local governments may find it more efficient to build department-specific applications off a low-code CMMS template.

3. Case and Service Management Workflows

Nearly every government department needs tools to track requests, manage incidents, and communicate changes. Some departments only need employee-facing capabilities, while others have local citizens who may open service requests. IT departments using low-code can offer these departmental tools as a service offering and help each department customize the data and workflow requirements, but then establish standard dashboards, reports, and key performance indicators.

4. OSHA Recordkeeping and Incident Reporting

OSHA incident reporting is a specialized incident management process to track OSHA Form 300 (log of work-related injuries and illnesses), OSHA Form 301 (injury and illness incident report), and the annual summary OSHA Form 300A. By creating this application for compliance, local governments can also take proactive safety measures and create alerts to keep department managers informed of compliance requirements.

5. Scheduling and Time Tracking

Another common use case is time tracking and scheduling, especially for departments with many temporary or seasonal workers, such as parks, tourism, and youth programs. These departments may benefit by utilizing a centralized application that offers mobile tools for employees and contractors.

6. Program Management Office

While departments may have different project management tools, the County Executive, Mayor, and other elected government officials should set up a program management office (PMO) to track programs, budgets, high-level timelines, and status. A fully functioning PMO can support an integrated workflow experience that connects with tools like Microsoft Project, Atlassian, and others while offering a standard project management tool for departments needing one.

7. Citizen forms and correspondence

Many local governments are using low-code tools to connect with their citizens. Here are examples of how different counties and municipalities can take advantage of this capability:

  • Report a pothole or other road maintenance issues to public works
  • Inform tourism of a local event
  • Alert the health department of a communicable disease issue
  • Enable tax payments by connecting forms to Stripe or other payment processing services
  • Automate agency reimbursement forms for youth programs

Low-code enables local government to create the forms and provide ongoing updates to its citizens. For example, a road maintenance app can also update citizens on when public works schedule the road work requested and provide a schedule for all planned work.

Getting Started with Dynamic Work Management

In local government, I recommend IT sponsor Dynamic Work Management programs to get the most benefits across departments.

IT should schedule time with department heads to learn their workflow, data, and integration needs while also performing a bottoms-up assessment of existing SaaS and other legacy applications. Digital Trailblazers should use this information to formulate a strategy around what capabilities may require specialized software and where building low-code solutions offers productivity, speed, integration, and support benefits.

The list is a good place to start!

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on mentoring digital trailblazers and building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO and a digital transformation influencer, with over 900 articles published on his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights on the Driving Digital Standup or during his weekly Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.

Isaac Sacolick
Written By: Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO.