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Building Efficiencies with Reduced Staff

Jeff Pavey & Matthew Jarman
  • Sep 07, 2021
  • 7 minutes

The current state of the government workforce

Jurisdictions across the US are experiencing increased workloads with limited labor resources. Statistics show that 7%, or roughly 1.3 million government jobs were cut last year while demand for growing communities increased1. In early 2020, government employment fell below the lowest levels since 2001, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics2. Not only were jobs cut but growing job opportunities in the private sector have played a role in higher-than-normal attrition rates.

7% or 1.3 million jobs cut

Municipalities that rely on tourism for tax revenue also saw major tax losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, translating to smaller budgets for local and state governments. Inflation rates across the chart mean government budgets don’t go as far as they used to.

Compounding these resource challenges, local governments across the country are experiencing increasing demand for their services, especially those related to community development and public works. Despite the high cost of lumber, communities are growing rapidly with a boom in both commercial and residential construction. This is particularly true in communities experiencing an increase in permanent residence, a phenomenon believed to be caused by the shift to work from home options for employees.

Additionally, federal stimulus funds and the likelihood of a federal infrastructure bill have public works departments gearing up for a significant increase of infrastructure improvement projects and associated management and oversight responsibilities. The outcome of a generational increased demand and reduced staffing has put a strain on many local governments nationwide.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Trends in the government sector and the availability of new technology have brought about both a need and an opportunity for governments to digitize and move beyond manual paper-based methods. Jurisdictions make this transition to improve efficiency without the need for increased budgets or more staff.

 Some of these trends include digitization, adoption of mobile technology, online self-service tools for business and citizens, centralizing information to build better transparency.

These trends ensure that it is possible to become more efficient and make the most out of your current resources.

Citizen pressure on governments to become more efficient with their tax dollars have prompted change in public works departments as well. Managing public and government owned assets with antiquated methods have proven a severe need for digitization. Asset lifecycle data is no longer a luxury but a necessity to make the best decisions possible and rebuild community trust.

Many jurisdictions use technology to maximize their efficiencies and become less susceptible to economic changes. For example, the City of Mount Vernon, WA uses video conferencing and mobile devices to complete virtual inspections for their contractors and citizens. They also leverage the capability of the single database community development platform, SmartGov™ integrated with GIS to help them with planning and zoning, and facility maintenance software that streamlines their processes saving them time and money.

Mount Vernon Success Story

Start with your citizens in mind

Finding areas to improve efficiency is easier than you might think. It all starts with identifying time-wasting processes in your organization. Every jurisdiction aims to better serve their citizens while promoting community growth. The key methods to achieve citizen satisfaction are through increased transparency, improved communication and faster response times. Start with these steps in your community development operations.

  1. First, start with a citizen portal that meets the needs of your community. This serves as a hub where your citizens can apply for various types of business licenses, permits and even submit code enforcement violations allowing them to be a part of the community improvement process.
  2. Next, focus on streamlining your internal processes to be able to react quicker to citizen requests. Permit routing can be a cumbersome task. However, the right platform could help you customize permit types and automate approvals reducing time to completion and required resources.
  3. Once your permitting process are optimized, go mobile! Inspections can be very time consuming with back-and-forth trips to the office for data entry. By arming your inspectors with a connected mobile app and GIS-mapping capability, they can complete inspections, update citizens on findings and move the permit process along from the field. Then inspectors can head to their next task without unnecessary trips back to the office, significantly reducing windshield time.
  4. Finally, visualize your efficiencies. With all these processes funneling data into a single platform, you can see real-time data on cost-savings, time to completion and the resources required to keep your communities thriving. Use these reports to justify funding or requesting additional staff and feel confident in your data-driven requests.

Following these basic steps can improve more than just efficiencies. Planning and zoning affect almost every area of a jurisdiction. Implementing a single-database platform can also streamline your communication, so the correct departments are notified precisely when they need to be during the planning process. Streamlining communications internally means no department is ever overlooked, and communities can continue to grow safely.

Efficiencies for Public Works and Asset Management

Community development is not the only place to find efficiencies during staffing shortages. Jurisdictions have a responsibility to maintain and manage all types of assets. From roads and water lines to facility assets like HVAC units, costs can add up on repairs, and you’re always looking for ways to make the most of tax-payer dollars. Public requests and work orders seem to be a never-ending cycle with a backlog that keeps growing, but where does it end? Public works departments can streamline workflows and processes throughout their departments with these simple tips.

  1. Going mobile is not just for inspectors. From creating and completing work orders and assigning tasks, modern public works departments turn to mobile CMMS solutions. This means your team is spending time turning wrenches instead of driving back and forth.
  2. Get out of that reactive rut and up your preventive maintenance (PM) game. By building schedules for your facility or municipal assets, you can reduce downtime, reduce the cost of ownership and make more informed repair vs. replace decisions on the assets that take up your team’s time.
  3. Leverage the power of GIS-mapping for your assets and infrastructure. Quickly visualize your GIS assets, work orders and technicians in the same view so your teams can move seamlessly from project to project and start chipping away at the backlog of requests.
 Building efficient asset management and work order processes are more important now than ever.

Local governments are constantly looking for creative ways to keep communities safe and operating smoothly with limited resources. By implementing these strategic initiatives into your everyday processes, you’ll ensure sustainable growth and continued revenue generation from your growing community.

Medina County Ohio Success Story

The strategic approach

Building better and more sustainable communities is at the forefront of your operations every day. You may be asking yourself; how do I take advantage of these efficiencies while managing a growing community? The reality is that these process changes won’t happen overnight. Choosing a strategic partner to work with you to achieve these goals is the best step you can take to get started. Dude Solutions has partnered with over 1,600 government organizations just like yours and provided expert-level guidance to strategically implement these efficiencies and more while minimizing disruption to your daily operations. We don’t just provide software; we partner with you and provide applicable expertise for every area of your organization and help you realize the full potential of your resources every step of the way.

See what the right partner can do for your community and request a customized demo today!




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