Using electronic records and information management can improve the ease and efficiency of updating, accessing, and securing roads department files. Photo: FileVision
Proper Process

Just repairing a road or approving construction permits entail specific project management processes in place when technology purchases should involve orderly, start-to-finish plans. You should spell out your objectives before publishing a request for proposal to information technology consultants, establish concrete return-on-investment criteria, and assign a project “owner.” By having one central leader collect all of the department's considerations, obtain buy-in from senior management, and hold the power to make decisions, that person will save the department time and money by streamlining the many factors that go into the process.

To be cost-effective while selecting a solution that meets productivity and budgetary needs, you should consider the following criteria when evaluating solutions:

Affordability. Solutions should be based on the number of users, consultancy fees, customer service, and upgrades for that particular market. You also may want to weigh off-the-shelf software against more expensive customized solutions.

Flexibility: Seek out technology solutions that are horizontal and are not limited to one particular department. For example, the solution implemented for roads should be able to be applied to functions for building permits or sewer records.

Scalability: The product should work for agencies of all sizes, within many departments or in just one part of an organization.

Configurability:The software should be able to create functions based on processes that are unique to each department, office, and employee. It should also be easy to configure overall according to the size, needs, and requirements of each organization.

Integration: The technology should dovetail seamlessly with other office processes and enhance overall productivity and work-flow within an organization.

— Laurie Shufeldt is vice president of business development for FileVision in Atlanta.