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Tag: Regional IT Projects

10 Smart Questions to Ask Vendors During Your Next IT Procurement Process

Modern technology can transform the way you work in local government, saving time otherwise spent on manual, tedious tasks. Yet any new implementation project needs to be approached with the utmost scrutiny—especially when you consider that approximately 30% of projects are cancelled before they reach completion and another 50% exceed their initial project cost estimate, according to research conducted by The Standish Group.

Throughout our twenty-four years as a company, we’ve been involved in hundreds of procurement discussions from the vendor side. In that time, we’ve realized that the communities who ask us the 10 questions below often have the most success in implementing their new solution. Today, we’re passing that information along to you.

Establish How Customizable the Product Is to Your Specific Needs

1. How easy will it be to make additional updates to the configuration after initial set up?

Most solutions require some degree of preliminary setup. Once that initial newness wears off, be sure you understand whether your team will be able to adapt the solution to evolving needs. For example, do you need the vendor or IT staff to make simple updates to the environment (e.g. updating workflows and forms)?

You should also understand the level of access your internal users will have to dedicated support, in the form of consultants or online help, to answer questions. At ViewPoint Cloud, we have a full-time team dedicated to responding to user questions and requests. Our median response time is just 10 minutes.

2. What are some creative things that we can do with this technology that will make us stand out from neighboring municipalities?

Our workflow automation platform is best-known for streamlining permitting, licensing, code enforcement and inspections—but it also does a lot more than that. The cities and towns we work with consistently invent new and impressive uses like:

  • Adding tax checks to permitting workflows to make sure people can’t get permits until they pay back taxes
  • Creating smart projects that adapt permitting requirements based on an applicant’s specific project criteria 
  • Developing in-depth FAQ sections to help applicants with their requests

Software tools need to be customizable in order to adapt and change with the evolving needs of your community. Make sure you have that flexibility early on.

Know What the Implementation Process Will Look Like—And How Involved Your Team Will Be

3. Does implementation cost extra? 

Certain vendors look to keep costs low by selling their technology solution as a standalone item. They provide no insight on how to best use the tool, how to migrate your historical data into the new software, and they do not offer support for troubleshooting or Q&A. Alternatively, sometimes vendors will sneak in ‘hidden’ implementation or consulting fees after the initial contract is signed.

Our team believes that in order to make the most of your software investment, support is a necessary component of a successful project—not a nice-to-have extra. That’s why we work with communities to create a transparent, customized service plan tailored to support the duration of platform deployment.

4. Are there additional fees for onsite training or consulting time after a certain period?

Depending on the vendor, user training is sometimes included in the cost of the product. Others offer up-front training, but charge for additional engagements after the preliminary onboarding period. Be sure you’re clear on how your potential vendor operates and whether this will impact the overall investment.

5. Will we need to have a dedicated person or team available to ensure successful technology implementation?

In many cases, large-scale technology implementation projects fall to IT staff. If you work on a smaller team, or have a small IT department supporting a large organization, figure out who internally has the capacity to act as the point-person for your project. This individual (or committee) is an instrumental partner in supporting change management and translating priorities internally and externally.

Compare to Other Industry Players

6. How does the speed of development and roadmap of this product compare to industry standard?

Modern technology companies employ roadmaps to visually share their strategic plan and the features they plan to develop next. While this information isn’t always publicly available, it’s worth asking your potential civic technology partner what their product priorities are for the upcoming year. Depending on the vendor, you and your community may even have an opportunity to shape future development through user feedback and recommendations.

7. Are our values aligned with this partner?

A small, but growing cohort of modern technology companies now exist–all focused on bringing about positive change in local government through innovation. We consider ourselves a member of this camp, as we are dedicated to bringing local government leaders best-in-class solutions. It’s worth having the conversation with potential vendors to learn about their history, mission, and motivations for working with local government.

Ask for and Analyze the Results

8. What is this vendor’s track record with other municipalities?

Modern govtech companies will gladly provide you with case studies, impact numbers (including methodology), and success stories because they are proud of their work and the outcomes they were able to bring about.  

9. How would similar communities describe working with you? 

Don’t be afraid to request references when evaluating a new solution. You should speak to a variety of communities to see how the same solution worked in different ways. Speaking directly with users will help you determine whether the technology is a good fit.

10. What is key to a successful implementation and how do I measure that?

Ask your potential technology partner to share what’s needed before, during, and after implementation to ensure success. Are there specific data points that should be collected in advance to best allow you to demonstrate progress using your new solution? If so, ask them how similar communities have tackled this, along with their recommendations as to how you should get started too.

Conclusion

As we explored in our previous blog post, getting enough consensus and internal buy-in to even decide on a technology solution is a major achievement. But after going through all of this up-front effort, you owe it to yourself, your team, and your constituents to ask potential civic technology partners the key questions above. 

Lucky for you, you now have the list! 

CRCOG Contract Extension | ViewPoint Cloud

A Study in Regional IT Procurement with Connecticut’s Capital Region Council of Governments

ViewPoint Government Solutions is thrilled to announce that the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) in Hartford, Connecticut has signed a contract extension with ViewPoint through 2023. With this agreement CRCOG will continue to offer Connecticut municipalities streamlined procurement of ViewPoint Cloud, the company’s cloud-based permitting, licensing, and code enforcement software. Originally signed in 2009, the extension will usher in almost 15 years of continuous service to Connecticut communities.

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38 Connecticut Communities & Counting, ViewPoint Bringing ePermitting to New Heights | ViewPoint Cloud

36 Connecticut Communities & Counting, ViewPoint Brings ePermitting to New Heights

Population: 93,000
State: Connecticut (Region)
Municipalities Involved: 28 Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) Towns & Cities
Problem Addressed: Updating legacy paper-based and outdated software systems
Project Highlights:  Regional IT procurement model, rapid implementation

With the recent additions of Hamden and Windsor Locks, ViewPoint now provides online permitting, licensing, and code enforcement solutions for 36 Connecticut communities. ViewPoint’s widespread success in Connecticut dates back over a decade, after joining forces with the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG). After selecting ViewPoint for a state-funded regional technology initiative, CRCOG has helped close to 30 of ViewPoint’s 36 Connecticut communities improve their internal operations and modernize their citizen services.

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Rhode Island's ePermitting Initiative a Digital Transformation Success | ViewPoint Cloud

Rhode Island’s ePermitting Initiative a Digital Transformation Success

By Jeff Friedman, Director of Modern Government, Microsoft Corporation on February 8, 2017
Republished from Microsoft CityNext blog

A little over a year ago, I wrote that Rhode Island was leading the nation with a pilot program launching the first statewide online permitting initiative in the U.S. Today, with eight municipalities and two state agencies on ViewPoint Cloud’s Azure-powered platform, Rhode Island is a model for how digital transformation can deliver better and more cost-effective citizen services, and cultivate a business-friendly environment.

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Why State and Local Tech Collaboration Should be the Norm | ViewPoint Cloud

State & Local Tech Collaboration Should Be the Norm

In 2015, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner saw that while Chicago was a nation leader in government technology, the state as a whole was in the bottom fourth of the country for efficiency and customer service outcomes. This spurred the creation of Illinois’s “Smart State” initiative, a holistic approach to improving technology across the state and it’s local municipalities.

Many other towns, cities, counties, and states are seeing similar opportunities for collaboration on government technology projects. Instead of approaching projects in silos, forward-thinking public agencies are seeing the benefits of creating technology “eco-systems” that innately benefit from their connectivity across governments.

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Rhode Island Begins Statewide ePermitting with ViewPoint Cloud

The State of Rhode Island and ViewPoint are leading the nation in rolling out an innovative statewide ePermitting platform.

Using ViewPoint Cloud, Rhode Island is modernizing state and local permitting systems through a customer-friendly online permitting portal accessed through each community’s website.

After just six months of system configuration, Rhode Island will light up the ViewPoint Cloud platform in February. Beginning with Building, Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, and Fire permits, the platform will grow to encompass additional permit types over time.

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