Don’t Invest in New Tech Until You Ask Yourself These 10 Questions
To invest or not to invest? That is the question many local government teams face today as they weigh a host of new technology solutions available to help improve efficiencies.
The landscape for government-specific technology is rapidly changing, and this accelerated pace of development isn’t slowing down any time soon. While this trend is ultimately positive for leaders looking to transform operations and increase constituent engagement, it’s also exhausting—teams are constantly evaluating a revolving door of “the-next-best-solutions” that may or may not address their unique, municipal challenges.
ViewPoint Cloud is one these many modern govtech options, though we’ve been makers in the industry for over two decades. Our company provides all-in-one software for governments to streamline their permitting, licensing, inspections, and code enforcement processes for staff members and constituents. As an innovator in the govtech space, we feel a personal responsibility to provide government leaders with the resources they need to confidently invest in technology.
That’s why we pulled from our 23+ years of experience in government innovation to create this list of 10 questions to guide your next deliberation before deciding to invest in any new solutions—with us, or anyone else.
Establish the Need for a New Solution
1. Do we have a compelling event or reason to purchase a new solution?
If you can’t think of an answer to the question above, great news! Your job is done and no further conversations (or meetings) are needed. We’re guessing that’s not the case, which is what brought you here in the first place. There are many valid reasons to purchase a new solution, including events like legislation changes or grants. You may be working with outdated tools slowing you down, or facing mounting pressure from constituents. Whatever the case may be, make sure everyone is in agreement on the problem(s) that needs solving, so you have a clear idea of how to move forward with your product search.
2. What happens if we do nothing—and don’t invest in new technology?
Many leaders will acknowledge that inaction is a form of action, but it’s usually not a popular one. It’s important to note that there are opportunity costs associated with implementing new technology. What are the budget and staffing trade-offs your team will need to make? Do the overall, long-term benefits of this solution outweigh them? If not, you may want to wait and weigh alternative options.
Determine if This is the Right Solution
3. Does this new tool have all of the core functionality my team needs?
What if you thought you had purchased a smartphone, but when it arrived, you realized it didn’t have a basic application for maps or a calendar? You’d probably be disappointed. Don’t let this happen with your govtech investment. Be sure your team is clear on the exact functionality you need—and whether the technology checks those necessary boxes.
4. Will this technology make our lives easier?
New technology will always require an initial upfront investment of time to ensure your team members are properly trained to utilize and benefit from it. After this initial implementation period, however, your solution shouldn’t be cumbersome to use, or complicate your daily tasks. Great solutions streamline your workflow, improve processes, and bring clarity and transparency to departments.
Understand the Impact on Staff and Constituents
5. How prepared is our team to make a big change?
You might be committed to the cause of improving your existing technology, but do your colleagues feel the same way? What’s the bandwidth for interrupting workflows to research, procure, and implement a new product? Can you allocate a dedicated project manager to ensure successful coordination and launch? Mapping out the time needed for your project against other responsibilities will help your team determine if it’s the right time to dive in.
6. Is there enough buy-in from different departments?
Similarly, before embarking on a new govtech adventure, it’s essential that you understand the level of investment required from outside departments and IT staff. Some team members are more resistant to change, and that’s just a fact of life. Before charging your way into a new IT project, be sure you’ve taken the time to communicate your motivations and solicit feedback from those who will be closely involved.
7. How do our team members who will be using the new solution feel about it?
Ever had an application you love upgrade overnight without your knowledge? Sudden, even subtle, changes in the interface can be maddening and completely mess with your usual workflow. Before investing in new technology, ensure that the team members who will be using the solution day-to-day are comfortable (and excited!) about the upcoming changes.
8. Will this technology have an positive impact on our constituents?
As a public servant, your constituents are at the heart of everything you do. Whether you’re purchasing a technology tool for internal use, external use, or both, don’t forget to communicate how it will impact those who live in your municipality. If the technology has a public-facing, online citizen portal like ViewPoint Cloud, it’s important that your implementation plan connects project leaders with constituents to ensure robust training and adoption.
Identify Goals and How to Measure Progress
9. What are our medium and long-term goals for implementing this product?
There is no shortage of acronyms in local government, including the dreaded S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). For tech investments, we recommend you use this framework, or whatever works best for you, to clearly delineate your short, medium, and long-term objectives. These will serve as your guiding light during implementation and a constant reminder of the key objectives of leveraging new govtech.
10. How can we measure the results of using this product?
With any new technology investment, it’s imperative for local government teams to be able to measure their progress and improvements against their legacy system. Many solutions out there (including ours) include built-in analytics and reporting features to help teams measure this. Drill down on the key metrics where you hope to improve performance and how you can access this historical data. Ideally, your team will gather these metrics before you make the switch, so that you have a pre-established performance baseline.
Purchasing local government technology is a major investment of time, money, brain power, and team effort, but the benefits can be tremendous if approached with careful thought and planning. We hope you can use these questions to help guide your process—and your team’s ultimate success. Happy hunting!