The Arteries of Local Government: How Office 365 Can Be Used to Create an Organizational Hub for Employees
Driving more responsive citizen services and creating a citizen engagement strategy are ways local government can be more successful, forward-thinking and help transition from a department-centric approach to a citizen-centric approach. Beyond citizens, there is a key audience not to be overlooked that also plays an important role in how local government accomplishes both of the above: Employees.
While citizens may be the life blood of any city or county, employees are the arteries that help transport citizens and citizen requests throughout the system.
In our last two blog posts we talked about how department silos in local government can impede the ability to provide more responsive citizen services and engage citizens. It’s also important to point out that department silos can have a major impact on internal services to employees within local government.
Department silos began as a way to achieve more focus and specialization. This worked well at first but as citizen and employee needs evolved with advancing technology, department silos proved to be insufficient, especially in today’s fast-paced, information and consumer driven economy.
Department silos not only lead to inefficient delivery of services but inefficient delivery of internal services, such as HR, IT and Facilities, making it hard for employees to find and access the services they need most to do their jobs.
SP Marketplace has spent more than four years working tirelessly with organizations to help streamline processes and improve communication and collaboration. SP Business Suite has helped more than 500 organizations at every level, including local government, improve communication and collaboration.
The Department Silo Dilemma
Over time city and county departments have established their own procedures, processes and systems to deliver internal services. While this is good for the department, for employees looking internally it means they have to deal with inconsistent processes, different systems, and multiple ways to request services. This not only can lead to frustration but also takes time away from the business of government.
Like businesses, local government organizations need to get away from the silo mentality because coordination across departments is where the greatest opportunities lie to create efficiency, drive change, incorporate consistency, and harness the power and ideas for all employees.
You do not have to disassemble departments but rather apply an internal services and communication structure over the top that provides a consistent employee experience for communication and obtaining services.
In some cases, like with help desks, you may be able to replace disparate department applications with a single solution across departments that saves money and could potentially pay for itself.
Create an Internal Hub - an Intranet Structure with Office 365
You can empower employees with an organizational Intranet hub that provides the latest government news, announcements, and achievements and activities of other departments, agencies and employees. An Intranet hub allows local government to span siloed internal service departments like HR, IT and Facilities to provide a single consistent approach to requesting internal services, through Help Central, accessing policies and procedures, and using common business processes like time off and expenses.
Empowering staff allows them to focus on the business of government and providing better city services to citizens rather than tedious internal administrative tasks. Like the citizen-centric strategy, an Internal Services Hub can be layered over existing systems to provide a common approach to internal services for employees. Additionally, many local governments have used it to consolidate costly disparate systems, creating the opportunity for significant savings.
Beyond the Hub: An Internal Services Structure
In most cities and counties the Intranet might feature an organizational portal at the top that serves as the Home Page and several department portals underneath, such as HR, IT and Facilities.
Each department might serve as an extended Team Site with a department tasks list, calendar and document libraries. You can create one of these and make it your department template for the staff of that department to access and use. This is the simplest structure and a good place to start.
However, while this structure serves basic needs eventually it will need to expand to provide self-service functions for employees and employee portals in each department to separate the department staff site from employee access. Below is one example of this advanced Intranet structure.
You can even drive productivity further by implementing an Employee Services layer. From here, city and county employees can go to Help Central to request service from any department and check the status, submit commonly used organization requests like time off, workers compensation, reimbursement for work-related expenses and continuing education and certification.
Employees also can access policies and forms in a central place rather than spread across networked drives. This replaces department silos with an employee-centric internal service structure.
A Consistent Look, Layout and User Experience
Having the right structure is a good start but it’s just as important to make sure that the user experience is consistent across sites. An employee using the Intranet then going to the Facilities portal or the Training portal should experience consistency. Often this is not the case because each department sets up its own portal without regard for a common experience for the end user in relation to other departments. If access to important documents or forms for Facilities or Training is in completely different locations in the department portals then the user can become confused or frustrated.
If each department uses a different Help Desk or Service Request approach, this also can be confusing. It’s important for each department to use a common design to employee facing portals. Below is an example of how to design portals across different departments so they achieve a consistent feel.
The Future With Office 365
As more cities and counties begin to think about modernizing their IT infrastructure and evolving to the Office 365 Portal Structure, it’s important to look beyond the benefits to citizens and see how to include employees.
Office 365 is a cost-effective solution for local government to drive employee productivity, streamline communication and achieve collaboration.