Better government through simple, interconnected systems

ServiceNow Australia Pty Ltd

By Alethea Murphy, regional director, public sector & education at ServiceNow
Thursday, 16 December, 2021


Better government through simple, interconnected systems

The last 18 months have seen a rapid acceleration in digital transformation as businesses and governments responded to the pandemic. This has also increased expectations of what good, interconnected experiences look like. Australians expect government agencies to provide the same level of customer support they receive for everything else — from booking a doctor’s appointment to ordering groceries.

New research by Lonergan shows that government agencies still have some catching up to do, but there are also many examples of government agencies providing seamless, proactive and connected customer experiences.

What are these agencies doing differently?

Quite simply: they are using the technology available to them to enhance the secure exchange of customer-related information to remove delays, streamline processes and resolve customer queries faster, more efficiently and more intelligently. They are marrying this insight with a vision of future costs, effort and an acknowledgement that digital transformation is an ongoing process of continuous improvement, which needs to be flexible enough to adapt to changing legislation, policy, external threats and customer demands.

The imperative for automation and innovation

The Australian Government has a vision to provide seamless and personalised service delivery in line with the Digital Transformation Agency’s five principles:

  • Putting people at the heart of policy and service design.
  • Proving trustworthiness.
  • Partnering to deliver value.
  • Continuously exploring and implementing innovation.
  • Delivering the best possible value for money for the public.
     

To succeed with this vision, governments are recognising they need platforms that enable a simple, interconnected experience using intelligent automation: both for employees and for customers.

Impending skills shortages require better systems

This is becoming even more important as skills shortages loom, meaning that government will increasingly have to compete with the private sector for good people.

In order to recruit the best people, government departments need to ensure their internal processes flow smoothly. Having too much red tape will make it harder to retain good people. This may be in the guise of basic issues like a payroll discrepancy or as a result of having too many manual overheads when creating a new position code.

The alternative is a seamlessly connected platform that enables departments to fuel efficiency by giving federal and regional employees the ability to focus on high-value work rather than time-consuming, repetitive, manual tasks. They also free up employees’ time so they can more promptly deal with complex issues and requests.

Intelligent automation can lead to greater operational efficiency, reduced operating costs and a reduction in errors, all of which improve the speed and quality of services delivered to customers.

Those familiar with the need to adopt interconnected technology are familiar with this narrative, but how does it actually work?

How interconnected enterprise systems reduce complexity

Traditionally, multiple systems, departments and people are required to interact to resolve customer requests: whether a manager needs a team to write a report or a citizen needs the right documents to travel overseas.

This was the case at the outbreak of the pandemic when overseas travel was banned without a government-approved exemption. A new process was required for people to request this exemption, and the initial response by the Department of Home Affairs was to require applicants to send an email to justify their reasons for travel, with supporting documents. Invariably, applicants would not provide all the necessary documents to justify their case, so when their emails were read, they would often be knocked back for trivial reasons such as incomplete information.

Home Affairs recognised this was not sustainable and realised they could use their existing platform to enable people to make their applications via an online form. This form would do all the simple checks to ensure the application was complete and satisfied the basic requirements before it was submitted for a person to review. This meant that only valid applications were reviewed by Home Affairs, cutting back the response time from weeks to days, even hours in some cases. Applicants had a better experience and received a faster response during what was a stressful and difficult time, and Home Affairs employees could focus on valuable work which would enable them to approve applications more frequently and give them greater satisfaction in being able to support those in need.

Seamless everything through a single system of action

Imagine a single system, accessible to all, that could create world-class employee and customer experiences in one place to manage all workplace needs and transitions. At the heart of this solution is a workflow: the sequence of steps which a task passes through to achieve a specific outcome. Digital workflows are what make all this possible.

An interconnected platform allows problem-solving through workflows and enables existing disconnected systems to become connected, streamlining problems that once required multiple engagements. As a result, stressed employees are able to solve more interesting and complex challenges, and customers get streamlined, personalised experiences, which makes their interactions with government easy and efficient.

Benefits of implementing a single system for government departments and agencies

Once simple, interconnected and frictionless systems are put in place using shared foundations, everything becomes simpler, and service employees can gain a 360-degree view of the customer they’re serving. Both customers and employees are given time back, creating productivity gains and an enhanced user experience. All this results in a better customer experience.

Additionally, utilising intelligent automation allows for cost-savings at multiple levels across the organisation.

At the department level, when the repetition of work can be reduced, costs are removed by improving efficiency and reducing frustration with manual or menial tasks that can result in costly errors. Staff can also spend time on more complex issues that require more consideration and are more personally rewarding, potentially increasing staff retention.

At the organisational level, these platforms allow governments to reduce the number of systems or applications required to run their operations.

Finally, at a higher level, platforms can help eliminate disconnected operations and create a joined-up business environment where leadership teams have improved visibility and can make better investment decisions. This enables governments to evolve as customer requirements evolve, and improve the experience of everyone participating in the flow of work.

With one platform, underpinned by a single data model, it is possible to create workflows that enable consistent, end-to-end employee and user experiences. That’s the beauty of a simple, interconnected, frictionless platform.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/peshkov

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