For state and local governments looking to ensure compliance, data security, and exceptional service delivery for citizens, paper-based records and processes present a significant obstacle. For hundreds of years, state and local governments have run on paper, but as populations increase and citizen needs and expectations around service delivery become ever more complex, digital transformation is imperative if governments hope to remain effective.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, government agencies manually process an average of 106 billion forms annually, with 73% of local governments still heavily reliant on paper-based processes. These manual, paper-based processes cost governments a staggering $38.7 billion a year, and that’s without considering the financial toll on the public, who spend approximately 10.5 billion hours a year filling out paper forms.
To remain compliant, protect sensitive information, and deliver the level of service citizens are coming to expect, state and local governments must eliminate paper. This involves not only digitizing existing documentation but also implementing the right government document management solution to make sure this digitized content is easily accessible, fully secure, easy to manage, and safe from the inherent vulnerabilities of paper.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at document management for government, including what it is, why it’s important, and how to choose the right government document management solution for your organization.
A government document management system is a cloud-based software solution that helps state and local governments manage the movement, storage, protection, and accessibility of important content, including records, documents, and other data types.
A good government document management system delivers the following important benefits:
A good government document management system improves the accessibility of important documents and records, delivering faster access to critical information. Digitizing and indexing records and documents into searchable databases means they can be retrieved in a few seconds via a search function, enabling employees to complete previously time-consuming tasks such as records requests in a matter of minutes. As such, citizens can access the resources and services they need quickly and efficiently, and spend less time battling inefficient and time-consuming government bureaucratic processes. Records requests that would previously take weeks to complete, for example, can now be delivered while citizens wait. Furthermore, without having to spend hours scouring the file room, employees have more time to spend on more meaningful, high-value tasks, leading to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention.
Physical paper documents take up an inordinate amount of space. Compliance laws require extended document retention periods, meaning that existing documents cannot be destroyed to make space for incoming content. Physical document volumes grow steadily by the day, and as a result, agencies need to either dedicate ever-expanding areas of expensive office space to document storage or bear the exorbitant expenses associated with off-site document storage and manual handling.
A government document management system means all existing and incoming content is captured, digitized, and stored in the cloud, securely accessible from anywhere. Physical file rooms can be repurposed for more high-value uses, saving on rental costs, and document transport, warehousing, and manual processing costs are completely eliminated.
Document management for government makes it easy for state and local governments to remain completely compliant with laws and regulations regarding document retention, audit trails, and data privacy. Government document management systems include functions to automatically track the lifecycle of documents so that they’re correctly retained for the required period, after which they are automatically deleted. They also include robust security measures and automatic activity tracking, preventing unauthorized access to and inappropriate exposure of sensitive records and files, while building a comprehensive audit trail.
Once content is digitized and entered into a document management system, it can be routed into automated workflows and processes, eliminating time-consuming manual processing and delivering more efficient services to citizens. Document automation for government reduces the likelihood of costly human error while optimizing workflows for maximized efficiency and productivity.
Government document management systems facilitate effortless collaboration, both between team members and departments, through advanced document sharing, approval, and editing capabilities. Version control ensures that multiple stakeholders can collaborate on the same document without the risk of overwriting, accidental deletion, or duplication. Automated activity tracking helps teams track exactly who has edited a document, the changes made, and when they were made for a full version history and audit trail.
Choosing the right government document management solution to meet your organization’s unique business needs is crucial if you want to unlock the full benefits of digitized content. The solution you choose will depend on a number of different factors, including budgetary considerations, the size and complexity of your organization, any legacy systems you’d like to integrate, and your plans for the future. However, whichever system you choose should have the following capabilities:
The government document management system you choose should be flexible enough to scale alongside your organization as it grows to futureproof your operations against rising demand and complexity.
A secure, cloud-based document management system with permissions-based access control functionality, redaction capabilities, and automatic audit trail building is a must-have, as most state and local government content is protected by privacy regulations. Robust security measures to prevent cybersecurity breaches are also incredibly important. Your document management solution provider should be able to provide security certifications and SLAs to ensure that citizen and organizational data is completely protected.
Look for a government document management system that can be deployed in a few days, as opposed to weeks, months, or even years, to ensure maximum time-to-value and immediate operational benefits. Some solution providers insist that custom configurations and system deployments take months to successfully execute, but this is not the case. While the document digitization process can take months to complete, depending on the volume of content that needs to be captured, implementing content management software should be fast and efficient.
A cloud-based solution means that content can be accessed securely, 24/7, from anywhere. This is important when it comes to situations like natural disasters during which state and local government employees are unable to access the office, but still need to continue providing services and information to citizens. A cloud-based solution also mitigates the risk of data loss that comes with storing content using on- or off-premises physical servers. In short, the cloud is more secure, more accessible, and, overall, more affordable than physical data storage.
Look out for a government document management solution that delivers a low start-up risk. SaaS-based solutions with annual subscription-based pricing models are often best because they don’t involve expensive proprietary software development and extensive investment to get up and running.
The primary benefit of document management for government is that it gives employees the ability to quickly and efficiently search and retrieve documents, files, or records. The government document management solution you choose should have advanced search and retrieval capabilities, including indexing via metatags, allowing employees to search not only for primary files, but also for words within documents, so they’re able to retrieve exactly the right page of a specific file, instantly.
Implementing document management for government is only successful if the system is applied universally and consistently throughout the organization. This can be challenging when users have widely varying levels of technical proficiency. It’s important that the document management system you choose is easy to use, simple to understand, and comes with comprehensive training and support to help all employees learn to navigate the system as quickly as possible.
Image API’s team of experts has been assisting state and local governments as they transition to a digital working environment for almost three decades. One such example is Nassau County, which contacted Image API for assistance with the digitization of its extensive probation records. Once digitization was complete, the County deployed Image API’s content management solution, Axiom Pro, to manage the newly digitized content. The initiative was so successful, the County soon made Axiom Pro the enterprise-wide standard across all departments.
For almost thirty years, Image API has been providing industry-leading document management for government, helping both state and local governments achieve unprecedented efficiency through a full-service digitalization and digital content management solution.
Flexible, scalable, 100% secure high-volume imaging services to digitize any document format, at scale.
Image API’s Axiom Pro platform is a cloud-based document management system that allows you to store, secure, search, and manage digital documents with unprecedented efficiency.
If you’re considering implementing a government document management solution, speak to our expert team – no obligation! We’ll help you identify the best solution for your unique needs.
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