Jun 27 2024

Care for Hungry Applications Ensures a Smooth Citizen Experience

Application optimization results in a smooth customer experience for constituents.

Citizen satisfaction is the top priority of state and local governments, and agencies can make big strides toward happy citizens by breaking down data silos and becoming more collaborative. One way in which they can do so is through application optimization, adopting practices to “eliminate redundancies, streamline workflows and increase interoperability so that applications work together in a cohesive, orchestrated system,” as CDW explains in a recent blog post.

Some agencies may fall victim to thinking about their internal processes only. Historically, IT may have operated in a bubble within agencies involved in lines of business, such as finance, public works or community affairs. We have seen incredible synchronization, even in the past decade, as agencies pooled their resources to deploy shared applications (think Microsoft 365) across a government enterprise. And we have seen an even greater acceleration of coordination since the start of the pandemic, which inspired agencies to establish more one-stop portals for citizen services.

Business agencies can accelerate this progress by inviting IT officials to meetings that historically would involve only their specific discipline, whether that be operations, finance, security or something else. Asking IT to sit in on even mundane meetings might open the door for more shared resources and savings when examining asset requirements ranging from hardware refreshes and software licenses to emerging technologies.

Agencies can make big moves — or take small steps — to application optimization. Developing a strategy in partnership with government IT offices will lay the groundwork for the care and feeding of applications to ensure optimal performance.

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Application and Infrastructure Optimization Go Hand in Hand

Many agencies live with custom applications, and they stand proud of their ownership of code in support of citizen services. They work to patch, update and expand these applications. They dedicate time, money and workforce to administer these applications.

But if officials can step back, they may realize they are operating in a silo that prevents them from exchanging data and building more robust citizen services. Agency leaders might take a hard look at their operations and uncover opportunities where they could broaden their focus by planning application and infrastructure optimization together.

When officials look for opportunities to upgrade, they may find opportunities to optimize and synchronize with their colleagues. For example, when migrating some data center operations to the cloud, leaders may see openings to adopt cloud services centralized through their IT agency or in use by their sister agencies. By looking at both applications and infrastructure holistically, state and local governments can make great progress toward more efficient and effective operations. Should applications need to run at a high level to meet citizen demand, agencies may consider upgrading the supporting infrastructure to feed more resources to these hungry systems.

Soliciting the perspective of the government IT team can lead to insights that could synchronize assets and improve citizen services. But agencies don’t have to wait for big changes to begin optimizing applications. There are a lot of small things they can do now.

READ MORE: Here’s how an application assessment can help government agencies.

Metrics May Indicate Application Optimization Requirements

In the short term, here are some factors to consider when determining how to optimize an agency’s applications.

Responsiveness: Time is cruel to applications. Left alone, running applications will deprecate. Over time, applications continually fulfilling demands run more slowly, creating a frustrating experience for users and administrators. Measuring response time is one indicator of an agency’s application performance.

Latency: Hungry applications may also use a lot of bandwidth, creating network latency. In addition to ensuring server hardware is up to the job of supporting applications, agencies should assess their networks to ensure they are supporting demand. Adding assets to an agency network may degrade its power, and admins may have to augment the network to support growing application demands.

Usability: Mapping the citizen’s user journey can provide insights into potential application optimization. Look at how citizens use agency applications and determine if there may be too many steps. Consider whether there are ways to speed access to an application or cut the number of steps required to achieve results.

Monitoring: As tax day approaches, citizens may increase their use of financial tools available to the public through government websites. In response, application demand may spike, and applications may consume more resources than usual. Administrators should observe these conditions to ensure otherwise strong applications have the appropriate amounts of storage, memory and other resources.

Reporting and alerting tools can help administrators understand these metrics. In a Microsoft environment, for example, agencies may adopt Azure Monitor to collect and analyze data from applications and other assets. This tool can provide insights into application performance and pinpoint specific bottlenecks.

Agencies can minimize the care and feeding of applications, but they should never truly leave them alone. Check in to measure their uptime and compliance to ensure a smooth citizen experience.

This article is part of StateTech’s CITizen blog series.


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