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iStock_000012107860_MediumA few weeks ago I had an experience with the local DMV which has led me to believe that their current systems are less effective than a Viking battle helmet with the horns on the inside. The dealership told me to go to the DMV, promising that all of the appropriate paper work had already been transferred there. I walk into the dreaded building of sorrow and deceit, hoping everything goes smoothly. When I explain my situation to the clerk, she tells me the dealership never sent over the paperwork. My palm goes straight to my face. DMV: 1 David: 0.

Turns out, the paperwork had been sent to the central DMV office but was then sent to the wrong branch, lost and was never entered into the system. The clerk spent over four hours hunting it down and manually reentering everything. As I stood there waiting, I realized I was “that guy;” the guy no one likes because he’s holding up the line. The whole situation could have been an episode straight out of Seinfeld.

Why doesn’t the DMV have an online portal where the dealership enters the data in order to alleviate some – or most – of the hassle for the citizen? Why doesn’t the DMV track incoming documents so there is less chance of losing them? Why does a process that should take 15 minutes take 15 days?

The answer is technology and selecting the right system to provide a positive return on citizenship (ROC). In addition to functional fit, a system’s ability to increase ROC is an important criterion for your agency to consider when selecting software. If the DMV was to a launch an e-Government initiative, everyone’s DMV experience could be comparable to sitting on the beach, drinking a Piña colada out of a pineapple. While this may be a bit of an exaggeration, it is no exaggeration to say that citizens demand a lot from their government.

Selecting and implementing new technology in the public sector is extremely difficult as most government agencies are comprised of more departments than Costco Wholesale, each with a variety of requirements. With this in mind, here are three crucial steps to selecting the right software for your organization:

1. Requirements gathering: A successful project manager should collaborate with representatives from each department to gather a list of specific requirements. Then they must organize those requirements to determine a list of “must haves” that are essential to achieving  a positive ROC.

2. Request for proposal development: The RFP process ensures that your agency is being transparent while gathering bids from ERP vendors. An RFP should be brief and to–the-point. It is designed to identify the most important requirements and to weed out ERP systems that would require extensive amounts of customization. Ideally, the selected system will require minimal customization. 

3. Analyze the options: Your agency should narrow down the RFP responses to two or three vendors by conducting follow-up meetings. Have the short-listed vendors provide software demos to show how their system will support your agency’s e-Government initiative, and in turn, how it will help you serve citizens.

While the public sector’s technology budget isn’t exactly a facsimile of Warren Buffet’s investment portfolio, agencies have to do the best with what they have because citizens’ expectations are high, and the possibility of a highly-publicized ERP failure is always a dark cloud hovering over project managers.

The right technology can have a significant impact on citizens’ interaction with their government. Many agencies recognize the importance of a thorough software selection. Engaging an independent and innovative consultant  to help your agency with its selection and implementation will ensure ERP success and a positive return on citizenship.

Written by David Ovitsky, Associate Business Analyst at Panorama Consulting Solutions. 

Learn more by downloading our new Public Sector white paper, The Need for Public Sector Innovation: Facing the Challenges Posed by Public Sector IT Initiatives

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