What this post is about
- How can communities take the first steps toward digitization?
- The digital administration, the municipality as a business, and the community form the local digital ecosystem
- Find out which of four digitization approaches suits you best
- The first steps are easy thanks to Zammad
Upon hearing the word "digitization", many people still think of paper forms being entered into "contemporary" masks on the computer. But that doesn't even begin to cover it! Digital transformation is, in particular, an accelerator for process optimization. Responsibilities are clearly defined, coordination processes are simplified, and nothing should be forgotten.
There is no single golden road to digitization in the municipal sector. Much depends on where you currently stand (e.g., do you have a digitization officer?), how much understanding there is for the necessity, and whether decision-makers are leading by example.
Let's take a look at the framework conditions for a successful transformation!
Here at Zammad, we have talked to some key players, which has helped us to build up a deep understanding of the organizational structures and needs of the public sector. It became apparent that there are three major problem areas:
- Digital administration:
Can appointments be booked online at the residents' registration office, can business matters be handled digitally, and can daycare places be applied for at the touch of a button? Are all relevant forms available to everyone?
- "Municipality as a group":
Local services that benefit the local community are often provided by municipal companies. They benefit from shared technical infrastructure and clear coordination processes.
- Local community:
Are all the players in the city, district, or municipal society networked with one another? In other words, citizens, residents, companies, clubs, and associations should be connected to mutually benefit from one another.
A successful digital transformation can only be achieved if all three areas are transformed with equal meticulousness and at a consistent pace. Otherwise, there will soon be a lack of individual willingness to engage with solutions, as they can quickly be considered too complicated when viewed in isolation.
Germany has passed a law called The Online Access Act ("Onlinezugangsgesetz"), which states that pretty much all municipal services must also be offered online by the end of 2022. Other countries are taking similar approaches. In the long term, the idea is to create a Europe-wide standardized gateway to digital administration - overcoming departmental boundaries and administrative levels.
While this is a good and important goal, it is a real challenge for the majority of Germany's 11,000 municipalities. Where to start? Which technical standards to implement? And then, in the end, it has to be as user-friendly and accessible as possible.
In order to make the process easier (and less daunting) for you, we have prepared a small overview of four types of approaches. This might help with your self-assessment and shows that you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. After all, no one can perform miracles.
A German competence center has used cluster analysis to identify four "municipal digitization types" from data of over 400 municipalities. These can be distinguished as follows:
- The Cautious Type
who focus on legal requirements and subsidies
- The Optimizers
who focus primarily on the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative services and processes
- The Service-Oriented Type
who strengthen the attractiveness of the municipality and the availability to the citizens
- The Community Managers
who particularly promote municipal services and the local community
All four types differ in the digitization goals that they prioritize, and they show clearly how differently the concept of digital transformation can be interpreted - from electronic administrative services to the design and management of a "smart city" or even a "smart region."
The good news is that the first steps toward digital transformation are easier than you think. Our smart helpdesk Zammad makes it possible - without any complex restructuring processes for your users or yourself.
Simply link your existing communication channels (telephone, email, fax, etc.) and organize incoming and outgoing requests, messages, and tasks with the help of a simple ticketing system.
Thanks to the open-source license, you can host Zammad on your own server immediately, free of charge, and in compliance with data protection laws (or you can let us help you with deployment and maintenance).
All of these features work out of the box, with no hidden costs:
1. Connect your communication channels
Gone are the days when nobody knew what tasks other team members were currently working on. With a helpdesk system like Zammad, every new message becomes a ticket that needs to be processed - with a defined responsibility, processing status, urgency level, notes, and a ticket history that guarantees nothing is forgotten.
2. Independent task management
Within your organization, you can create as many accounts as you like (called "agents"), assign them access rights and establish clear responsibilities in various teams. This enables efficient and person-independent processing. Text modules and templates for common processes ensure consistent and fast results.
3. Fill the knowledge base
The best thing about Zammad: The more knowledge you accumulate, the easier it will be to answer future inquiries. Simply create a knowledge base for this purpose, which citizens can also access themselves and search using keywords. Meanwhile, you fully control which parts of your knowledge base are public.
Digitizing communities is key to improving the quality of life, work, and location. Even if you are still in the very early stages of optimizing your processes and infrastructure, the right strategy and technological solutions can help you achieve initial results quickly and easily.