North Dakota State Government needed to continue to deliver high-quality citizen services as budgets contracted, and spending on new technology solutions became less feasible.
By managing and storing data in a more agile way, the North Dakota State Government is extracting better value from public spending by turning employees into true knowledge workers.
Drives upemployee productivity by giving them more time to focus on high-value work
Speedsresponse to citizens through automation and streamlined processes
Reducesrisk by helping the organization better prepare for litigation
Business challenge story
Doing more with less
In the last two decades, North Dakota has climbed the ranks of oil-producing states in the US to become the second largest producer, exceeded only by Texas. The oil boom brought prosperity to the region, but when crude oil prices collapsed in 2014, output declined sharply and the oil industry has only recently showed signs of recovery.
Against this backdrop, the North Dakota State Government faced contracting budgets, so they needed to get creative with existing tools in order to continue to serve its citizens.
Chuck Picard, Enterprise Electronic Document Management System Coordinator at the North Dakota State Government, recalls: “Our budgets ebb and flow on the price of oil, so when prices took a hit, so did our funding. We couldn’t invest in new technology, so we wanted to extend the functionality of what we already owned to add value to our employees, and therefore our citizens.”
As part of its effort to centralize IT across its many agencies, North Dakota looked for ways to streamline processes and replicate best practices, and saw an opportunity to build on one of its greatest assets: its workforce’s knowledge.
“When employees retire or leave, the expertise they’ve developed over many years walks out of the door with them – unless we find a way to store it and, most crucially, share it effectively,” comments Chuck Picard. “We’ve already had great success working with IBM solutions to bring together content and processes across our departments to speed up responses to citizens and drive down costs. It was the time for the next stage in the transformation of information delivery to our employees.”
Efficiently serving North Dakota citizens
By reducing manual work and putting relevant data at employees’ fingertips, the North Dakota State Government is unlocking greater workforce productivity and driving faster responses to citizens while saving money.
“With support from the IBM solutions, we are turning our employees into true knowledge workers that can get their hands on the data they need to make superior decisions very quickly,” explains Chuck Picard. “When departments receive a request from a citizen, we’re empowering them to respond faster and more accurately than ever. We’re also automating processes to free employees up to focus on higher-value work that really makes a difference to citizens’ lives, raising satisfaction both inside and outside the organization.”
“The IBM technology is flexible enough that we can adapt new features to fit a wide range of needs, allowing us to fully capitalize on innovation, rather than reinventing the wheel every time. We’re reusing innovations in different departments to save time and optimize use of resources.”
Controlling who accesses what data
When the Department of Human Services requested greater insight into how users were accessing its most sensitive case information, the IT team saw a chance to enhance reporting across the organization. Using IBM Content Navigator to create a reporting plug-in, it can now offer departments a customizable solution to shed light on who is viewing information within the electronic document management system.
“Every time we receive a request, we take a step back and look at it on the enterprise level to see if it could be useful elsewhere in the organization,” adds Chuck Picard. “Now, agencies have immediate insight into who is using data, helping them to ensure citizen details remains extra safe.”
In another project, the North Dakota State Government built a legal hold process within IBM FileNet Content Manager, which allows the organization to preserve all relevant information stored in the system when legal action is imminent. Previously, users would have to make a request and wait for a response within business hours – now, the process is instant and available 24/7.
Extracting new insights
The organization also extended search capabilities within its FileNet document system. Today, any content scanned into the system by agencies is exported as an indexed PDF by default, enabling metadata searching and improved preservation of organizational knowledge.
Chuck Picard provides an example of why this useful: “Our accounts payable team can pull out much richer data from employees’ telephone bills, allowing them to investigate why one person’s bill is much higher than another’s. With this insight, they can more readily identify opportunities to reduce costs. We are planning to use this treasure trove of data to drive powerful analytics that will help us unlock further efficiencies and deliver more effective service.”
Optimizing updates and sharing of process documentation
Through automatic archiving of static documents available on its intranet, the North Dakota State Government preserves a rigorous audit trail while streamlining processes. The team developed the new capability following a policy documentation update in the human resources (HR) department.
Chuck Picard recalls: “Our HR manual is updated periodically, but it’s vital that we retain old copies in case an employee reports an incident and we need to look at the rules that were in place at an earlier point in time. Before, the HR team had to manually upload every new version to the intranet and make sure they properly recorded old iterations, a process that was time-consuming and error-prone.
“We built a new process in FileNet that takes the Word document from HR, turns it into a PDF and hosts it on our intranet service, while archiving the previous version – all automatically. We can repeat this process for any static document that needs to be available internally or externally.
“IBM is always making new iterations of the software available, giving us regular opportunities to introduce new features and tailor our environment,” says Chuck Picard. “Best of all, users have input into what IBM builds into each release, so we know the technology roadmap matches up with emerging business needs.”
Clamping down on risk
With greater control of data, the North Dakota State Government is reducing risk in multiple ways. For example, it has added an extra layer of protection to citizen information, and is better prepared for litigation.
Chuck Picard concludes: “IBM tools are allowing us to get out of the way and give our employees control of their data. Whether it’s the risk management team in our legal department or a retiring employee passing on information to their successor, agencies can be confident that data is in its proper place. By helping us use data to its full potential, IBM solutions ensure that we can best support the people of North Dakota.”
North Dakota State Government
Admitted to the Union in 1889, North Dakota is located in the upper Midwestern region of the United States. The North Dakota State Government is responsible for coordinating the delivery of public services to the state’s 755,000 residents.
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