A new whitepaper out from Vision Internet and Granicus, shows that the public sector is recalculating how it looks at technology spend and ROI. According to the authors, agencies are moving away from focusing solely on budget line items and expanding the definition of ROI to include community outcomes and improvements in civic engagement.
A recent Accenture study noted that by moving government operations to a digital
state, interactions with citizens can cost up to 80 percent less than non-digital interactions. Still, that can be hard to quantify in a budget meeting if buyers are purely focused on immediate cost savings instead of long-term outcomes.
“Supporting multiple disparate systems across departments increases costs and creates
integration headaches that can rob organizations of measureable returns. While eliminating duplicate and inefficient systems can create very visible returns, identifying and highlighting secondary cost, resource and time savings in other less visible areas can reduce future spending and improve ROI measurables,” paper authors write.
That secondary savings can also come in the form of improved employee morale, better cross-jurisdiction collaboration, and a more favorable public perception if citizens can find the information they need quickly, without having to come into an office.
Public sector ROI can also be realized by moving staffers on to other tasks once a backlog is caught up. This reality is hard to quantify on a budget worksheet, but easy to see and feel within an agency.
“Calculating a tangible return on investment is an important first step in gaining support for ongoing investment in advanced technology,” adds Ashley Fruechting, Vision Internet’s director of strategic initiatives. “Infusing technology into the fabric of government operations requires smart decision making that begins with realistic expectations and a thorough review of ROI.”
In Keene, New Hampshire, one of the cities mentioned in the paper, after implementing a searchable video and text archive of municipal meetings the city was able to see a 65-percent reduction in time spent handling meeting inquiries—90 percent of which are now self-service—and cut paper usage by more than 50 percent. The city used the time savings to reallocate staffers to other tasks.
For state and local government agencies, benchmarking against municipalities or individual state departments of similar size and scope can help to provide more effective improvement metrics. Relying on agency specific goals alone can often create blindspots that show up later. Benchmarking may also increase the upfront costs, but according to the paper authors, those costs can be recovered down the line as demand for services continues to increase and platforms are already in place to handle that demand.