It can be difficult to transition to a paperless office. After a cost-benefit analysis has been done and it has been seen that going with an electronic solution results in great productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness boosts, there are still other challenges. But don’t let these stop your local government. It can go paperless and do it without hassle if it follows our list of best practices. We have helped over a hundred local governments in Canada transition to a more digital office and know the tricks of the trade. Whenever a change is introduced into an institution, particularly a long-standing one like a local government, it is difficult. Common problems faced by governments transitioning to digital solutions are employees:
- Scared they will lose their jobs to computers. This may cause some employees (~5%) to actively sabotage and derail the transition, most however just lose morale;
- Who try to revert to the old way of doing things. This usually constitutes about a quarter of the employees. This can be very dangerous as even users who like the new system might revert to the old one if they see others doing so;
- Being unsure of how to work with the new system and being too scared to ask for help. This can be a vicious cycle as employee become increasingly lost and then even more scared to ask for help;
- Saying that the transition process will take too long due to the large volume of records stored by many municipalities. These are often employees who have worked with paper documents for a long time;
- Worried that the process will be too expensive and take money out of the budget for other important projects. This is especially a problem in cash-strapped municipalities;
- Worried that one department will have all the say and create something which doesn’t work for them. This can especially be a problem for smaller departments who don’t want to be pushed around.
In addition, governments face problems due to the software that they select. If they choose the wrong software they may face a litany of problems such as:
- Poor or non-existent support when problems come up – leading to valuable IT resources being diverted to solving these problems. Due to this, other important tasks may be ignored;
- Incompatibility with different platforms and with existing software or hardware. This can seriously harm productivity and effectiveness;
- Frequent crashes leading to a possible loss of important work. This is not only frustrating but can also lead to lost money and time;
- Poor security leaving your government open to cyber-attacks and data loss. Cyber-attacks, both internal and external, are increasing threats in the modern age and local governments need to be wary of them;
- Lack of Scalability. Case management solutions are often designed for smaller organizations and this can lead to problems for growing governments.
These problems are challenging but they can be overcome by implementing some best practices, such as:
- Showing employees how the new system will make their lives easier not harder. Employees need to have confidence that the new system will be better for them
- Instituting a top-down push by the organization, employees won’t change their behavior if they see that their superiors still using the old system
- Training employees on how to use the system and giving them opportunities to answer any questions they may have in a judgment-free environment. This is very important to win over people so that they can see that the new system isn’t as complicated as they think;
- Appointing someone from each department to talk to IT to ensure them that they are being listened to and that their needs will be addressed by the new system. This will ensure that no department feels neglected and that the solution provides benefits for everyone;
- Investing in a professional company like Ricoh which has experience in the local government sector, is knowledgeable about government regulations, uses up-to-date technology and provides extensive support;
- Adopting technologies which allow employees to work remotely and from their phones. This will also further incentivize employees to embrace the change as it will allow them more flexibility;
- Encouraging a real change in thought processes among your employees (do they really need to print that document?). This can be done through sharing articles or delivering talks on the importance of sustainability and eco-consciousness;
- Creating a committee (with someone from each department) which regularly meets to provide feedback on their challenges with the new system and which shares their success stories (keeping morale high). A problem which is bugging one department may have already been fixed by another. This not only helps optimize the system but creates a stronger bond in general among employees;
- Regularly doing a high-level review of business practices to see where ECM could help further.
Interested in making the transition to a more environmentally friendly and cost efficient workplace? Ricoh can help your organization go paperless.