Officials Agree Managing People Is More Challenging Than Tech
In the discussion, Tyler Marr, interim deputy city manager for Fort Collins, Colo., said many workers remain committed to the software systems they may have been using for some time. Change management is needed to engage them in new processes and become familiar with doing things in a different way.
“People tie their sense of worth up in an existing software system. Change management can get them on with recognizing that their value is not their understanding of a single 30-year-old system, in some instances, but that they are a confident individual who can work across systems and across processes,” Marr said.
Chris McMasterson, CIO of Corona, Calif., emphasized the importance of people in creating a culture that embraces change.
“For most of the projects that I’ve seen fail, usually it’s because of people. It’s usually not about the technology most of the time,” McMasterson said. “Technology is usually the easier part of what you’re doing. And so, it’s getting people on board. Generally, in the government, there’s not the same impetus as in the private sector. You’re not getting a bigger bonus because you’re selling a new system that works more efficiently. In fact, people are fearful over the status of their jobs: What happens to me? How am I still valuable to the organization under this?”
Digital Transformation Must Simplify Citizen Services
As for going paperless, McMasterson noted that citizens aren’t truly excited about going to City Hall to get things done.
“You’d rather do it at your house or on your phone or at whatever time of the day when you get off work,” McMasterson said. “You don’t want to take the day off to go stand in line in a government office for a permit. So, how do we make that easier for people? How do we make that experience good?”
McMasterson called for digital input from residents on how cities can best serve them. And Marr stressed the importance of simplifying systems to ease processes for residents and government workers.
“Right now, in the city, for instance, you can have 45 unique accounts to access city services — recreation, utilities,” Marr said. “That’s absurd. But in order to get out from that, you really have to sort of start from the ground up in terms of what this is going to look like. And you need good data to do that. And I think it has to be grounded in equity. I don’t think we talk about it enough. Our digital tools are going to be a means to achieve some equity.”