How to leverage government workflow automation to streamline project management

How to leverage government workflow automation for policy project management

Maleka Momand June 9, 2023

Project management issues such as approval delays, departmental silos and an over-reliance on paper-based systems can thwart the policymaking process, reducing the efficiency and responsiveness of decision-makers and rulemaking coordinators.

By re-imagining policy management with government workflow automation, agencies can benefit from smoother collaboration and faster-paced projects. Using workflow automation software such as Esper to track the progress of your policies also contributes to greater visibility. 

In this guide, we will go over what government workflow automation is, the challenges it addresses and how agencies can embrace this approach for a more efficient policymaking lifecycle.

What is workflow automation in government?

Government workflow automation applies technology to streamline and automate routine, rule-based tasks within agencies’ operations. It encapsulates a broad spectrum of functionalities, from process automation to data analysis. Gartner estimates that three-fourths of governments will have at least three enterprise-wide hyperautomation initiatives implemented or launched by 2024. Increased employee productivity is one of the benefits. 

Taking advantage of automation to facilitate project management in government

Integrating workflow automation into the project management aspect of the policymaking lifecycle can enhance both the efficacy and speed of these initiatives. Here are the top benefits:

  • Improved efficiency. With automated workflows, you reduce manual inputs that slow down your processes. Automatic notifications (for example, about changes in policies or new work that has been just assigned) enable more timely actions. As per McKinsey’s scenario modeling, automation could improve global productivity growth by 0.8% to 1.4% yearly.
  • Better employee morale. Automating repetitive tasks frees up staff to focus on more strategic and high-value work, which can lead to greater work satisfaction.
  • Optimized resource allocation. By automating routine tasks, resources can be reallocated to areas where they are most needed.
  • Increased collaboration and transparency. Automatically-created workflows make it easier to track and approve clearances, helping to boost collaboration, communication and transparency in the policymaking process. 
  • Standardized execution. Government workflow automation ensures that policies are created, reviewed and implemented following standardized procedures, leading to predictable outcomes and consistent quality.

Overcoming the hurdles of legacy policymaking with automated workflows

A survey from the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) listed legacy modernization and business process improvement among the highest priorities of state CIOs for 2023. As legacy policymaking workflows often rely on paper, they create multiple versions of the same document, which could lead to errors and inconsistencies. This absence of version control, combined with departmental silos and a lack of communication, often has policy coordinators going through their emails to find the latest version of a document. 

Legacy systems can create an inefficient review process where policy owners and agency leaders must be manually notified of status changes, leading to unnecessary delays, confusion and a lack of synchronization. Manual processes also fail to properly track ownership, history and deadlines. Moving through complex workflows in this manner results in longer timelines and a reluctance to implement changes.

At Esper, we help government organizations reduce the time needed to complete a policymaking lifecycle by 25% through automated, standardized workflows. Adopting our policy management platform initiates a discovery phase in which our Professional Services team maps out every stage of an agency’s existing workflows and business processes. 

This phase involves pinpointing the internal stakeholders for each workflow, their access permissions, the necessary approval procedures and document templates. All workflow tasks are also pre-configured into the policy management tool, and our experts collaborate with agency partners to digitize and automate each step of their workflows.

Example of an automated policymaking workflow

Consider the case of the State of Iowa. Our partnership with the Iowa Professional Licensing & Regulation Bureau (PLB), Iowa Department of Inspection & Appeals (DIA) and Iowa Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) helped these agencies improve project management through automatic tracking, stakeholder assignment and due date scheduling using a centralized platform.  

Read our case study to learn why the State of Iowa chose Esper as its digital transformation partner.

Our top uses of workflow automation in government policymaking

With Esper, you can streamline all your policy workflows. Here’s how: 

  • Given the sequential nature of policymaking tasks—where a task completion paves the way for the next—the Esper platform enables you to manage stakeholder assignments, due date setting and project progress tracking. Tasks within a stage are denoted with green (complete), yellow (in progress) and red (waiting to begin). When a task is completed, the stakeholder responsible for the next one is automatically notified, and the process seamlesslessly moves along. 
Screenshot of the Esper platform rulemaking workflow dashboard
  • User permissions for involved stakeholders can be configured in advance for all workflows, ensuring the right people are assigned to each task.
  • If a policy requires further edits or changes, the drafting task is reintroduced into the workflow. The initial drafter is promptly notified via email or an in-platform alert, and any dependent tasks downstream are temporarily halted. 
  • The government workflow management software also extends its automation capabilities to the review process. For instance, if a policy necessitates approval from the governor’s or attorney general’s office, Esper facilitates this inter-agency step and tracks its status.

Harness the power of automation in government with Esper

As a cloud-based SaaS technology, Esper empowers governments with tools for policy collaboration, drafting, review, publishing and research. Designed with all agency stakeholders in mind, Esper streamlines every stage of the policymaking lifecycle and is a trusted digitization partner for government agencies across North America.

Ready to meet the demands of public service in the 21st century with government workflow automation? See Esper in action.  

Frequently asked questions

What is the main purpose of workflow automation?

The main purpose of workflow automation is to optimize routine, rule-based tasks in any operational process. By automating these tasks, an organization can enhance efficiency, reduce human error, increase productivity and allow its workforce to focus more on strategic and high-value tasks. In a Camunda survey, 92% of enterprise IT decision-makers considered process automation a critical part of digital transformation.

Workflow automation technology aids in maintaining consistency and standardization in operations, improving transparency by providing an audit trail of tasks and processes and facilitating better coordination and collaboration among teams.

How do you create an automation workflow?

Creating an automation workflow involves key steps that can be tailored to the specific needs of an organization or process. Here’s how to start:

  1. Evaluate your existing processes and identify tasks that are routine, repetitive and rule-based.
  2. Create a step-by-step map of the current workflow, noting the roles involved at each stage, decision points and interactions between different parts of the process.
  3. Decide which tasks will be automated and in what order they will be performed. 
  4. Design how decisions will be made within the workflow (usually based on predefined rules).
  5. Implement the workflow using technology. With Esper’s cloud-based SaaS platform, you can automate all your policy workflows.
  6. Monitor the performance of the automated workflow, check for any issues or bottlenecks and make necessary adjustments.

Can the Esper platform be customized according to an agency’s specific needs?

Yes. Esper is highly customizable and can be tailored to meet the unique requirements of different government agencies. 

We work closely with agency partners to understand their specific needs and existing workflows for government policies. Based on this information, we map out and configure the policy management software to align with each agency’s processes, stakeholders, approval procedures and document templates. Our approach to implementation results in a personalized automation system that accurately mirrors the agency’s operations and improves efficiency. 

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