Online Services Are the Future for Municipalities

Digital technology is changing how companies do business and families communicate, but the digital transition is not stopping there. Municipalities everywhere are embracing online services and software solutions. Some states are even mandating them. Here is a closer look at everything municipalities need to know now.

What State Mandates Mean for Communities Like Yours

Traditionally, local government work has relied on paper-based processes. Licensing, permitting, and inspections are some of the most common processes municipality employees handle. Until recently, residents and businesses needed to make several appointments to collect forms, hand them in, and wait for a decision.

States like New Jersey are now taking action to simplify and streamline those processes. Specifically, NJ Bill A1145 has made electronic permitting mandatory. For municipalities, that means digitization is no longer a topic for the distant future. The time has come to transition from paper-based to online services.

At first sight, this may look like an imposition. After all, mandates like New Jersey’s force local governments to change processes and procedures, invest in technology, and set aside time for training. All these points are valid. Leading communities have embraced it as an impetus to transform the way they relate to their citizens.

In short, digitization has helped bring communities closer. Instead of preventing residents and businesses from approaching their local governments, they have found it easier to get in touch.

How Online Services Can Transform Your Town

How do online services bring communities closer together? In this section, we look at the benefits for municipality employees, residents, and businesses.

Benefits of Online Services for Municipality Employees

Digital transformation and digitization allow your team to work smarter, not harder. A simple way of picturing the transformation is to imagine adding hours to the team’s day. That is exactly what happens when municipalities introduce online services. The only difference is that your HR team does not need to ask anyone to do overtime.

Instead, online services allow residents and businesses to access the municipality’s services when it suits them. There is no need to make appointments to get forms when all forms are accessible online. Once forms like licensing applications have been submitted, employees can immediately access and review them from one single dashboard.

Missing information no longer holds up the process. All that is needed is an email from the employee to the applicant to request documentation or other details.

From the perspective of the municipality’s leadership team, cost savings are a major benefit of digitization. Granted, community development software will require an initial investment. In the long run, though, freeing up employee time and speeding up processing times for a variety of tasks increases productivity. That allows local governments to do more with the budget they have.

Benefits of Online Services for Residents and Businesses

Residents and businesses are to municipalities what customers are to privately held businesses. Giving them easier access to the services the local government provides not only results in happy residents, your municipality will become known as a great place to establish and run a business.

Both residents and business owners will appreciate no longer being restricted by limited opening/closing hours. They can access information and submit requests and applications when it suits them rather than waiting for an appointment. The municipality becomes more accessible.

Introducing online services does not mean abandoning in-person appointments. However, by limiting the number of appointments required, residents and businesses will find it easier to make the appointments that truly require personal attention.

Overall, communities will run more smoothly, and this difference will quickly become apparent to all stakeholders.

Checking Product-Provider Fit

So, how can you ensure that the software and the provider you are considering are right for your community? Start by looking at the fit between the product, the provider, and your community. At Mitchell Humphrey & Co., we have built our business on working with communities like yours.

Our software products have been developed with the needs and requirements of communities in mind. We understand that your teams work differently compared to the private sector, and all our products are tailored to the specific requirements of licensing, inspections, permitting, and other processes municipalities need to handle.

We understand that no two municipalities are ever the same. As a result, we work with you to customize your software further. As a result, your software will reflect the needs of your community without the need to compromise on functionality and without any added clutter.

Your team will simply notice that files and documents become far more easily accessible. Rather than contacting different departments to get all the files and information needed for a specific building project or licensing process, employees have everything they need at their fingertips – or just a few clicks away. Tasks that used to be time-consuming, involving several team members across different departments, searches in archives, or phone calls across town become simple and straightforward to deal with.

What FastTrackGov® Can Do for Your Community

FTG is Mitchell Humphrey & Co.’s flagship software product that has proven to be truly transformational for many communities across the country. This software makes managing complex processes easy. Your team can reduce paperwork, save time, and manage all your community’s needs from a single dashboard.

FTG is a suite of software products that have been combined to make community development seamless. Rather than having to understand and manage a range of different software products, employees navigate one platform. Our team of developers has made sure FTG is easy to use whether your team mostly consists of tech novices or near-experts. We believe that you do not need to be extremely tech-savvy to benefit from the streamlining and time-saving effects.

FTG makes licensing applications simple, no matter if they are business-related or if residents need to renew their pet licenses. The software allows employees to process hospitality taxes and simplifies interactions between citizens and the municipality.

This software suite can help your community manage rental properties, ensuring they are safe and well-kept for tenants. Landlords will find it easy to stay up-to-date on their licensing requirements with the help of reminders and 24/7 access to the local government’s requirements. FTG makes it easy to keep forms and other information available, accessible, and updated.

The community’s code enforcement team has direct access to the system, too, allowing them to see where action is needed to keep residents and businesses safe and protected from potential environmental hazards.

For contractors, FTG can be a game-changer. Instead of waiting their turn to meet municipality employees, they can lodge building applications and all relevant paperwork online, at a time that is convenient to them. Not all building sites run on a nine-to-five schedule, and online services can be transformative when it comes to accommodating different schedules.

Protect Your Community’s Financial Health with Financial Management Software (FMS)

Mitchell Humphrey’s Financial Management Software (FMS) makes it easy for your team to stay on top of budgeting and spending as well as maintaining transparency toward relevant stakeholders.

Gone are the days when businesses managed their entire bookkeeping and accounting function on a simple spreadsheet. Over time, one spreadsheet turned into many, and managing them turned into an ever-more complex task that fewer people could handle well. Businesses turned to bookkeeping and accounting software.

For municipalities, the situation is similar. One spreadsheet turned into an ever more complex collection of spreadsheets, making it harder to maintain a true understanding of the community’s finances. At the same time, residents and businesses become more accustomed to questioning their government’s spending practices and demanding accountability.

FMS makes this easy. Not only is the software easy to use without specialist knowledge, but it also accommodates high-level accounting functions that your finance team needs. Complex reports no longer take several team members hours or even days to compile. A few keystrokes are enough to access and complete even the most difficult computations.

This product allows everyone in the organization to access the community’s financial information with a few mouse clicks and understand your financial situation within minutes. At the same time, our developers have made sure that communities remain compliant with local, state, and federal regulations.

Some of the functions of FMS for include handling fixed assets, accounts payable and receivable, simplifying budgeting, and maintaining a general ledger. Procurement, project, and grant accounting can also be handled within the software.

Software for Field-Based Municipality Employees

Not every municipality employee spends their day at a desk in front of a computer. Building inspectors as well as your code enforcement team are more likely to be in the field, meeting business owners and residents.

Previously, they needed to return to the office to report their findings, almost doubling the time some tasks would take. The FTG app allows inspectors to increase their productivity in the field. They can enter detailed findings directly at the site of an inspection, which the office-based team can access in real time.

Even if inspectors are traveling in an area without cell phone signal or internet access, they can still access all the information they need before assessing a property, for example.

What to Expect from Your Community’s Digital Transformation

Digitization and digital transformation may sound like daunting prospects for some communities. However, with the right partner by your side and the right product, the process can be completed within a relatively short space of time.

The result is a much improved municipality that is set for growth. Consider this – municipalities that make it easy to apply for building permits and complete licensing requirements are automatically more attractive to businesses. Online services allow business owners to complete all legal requirements quickly and return to their main concern, which is building their business.

More successful businesses result in better services becoming available to residents, making the town a more attractive place to live. Consequently, your municipality benefits from increased tax income.

Working for the local government also becomes a more attractive prospect in a place where processes are handled efficiently and interactions with residents and business owners are positive. Everyone benefits.

How to Digitize Smoothly

Choosing the right partner and the right software are key in preparing your municipality for a smooth transition that improves services for all stakeholders. Government mandates are pushing municipalities to accelerate the provision of online services, but even without those mandates, digital services come with great benefits.

At Mitchell Humphrey & Co., we pride ourselves on helping communities like yours transform smoothly with the support of a solid software development partner that will be there in the long term. Our products have been designed to match your requirements, and we offer flexible approaches to implementation. Talk to us today to schedule a demo or find out more.