by Ángel L. Pérez, Januray 27, 2016
Despite the technological advancements that enhance and permeate 21st-century life, many municipalities in Puerto Rico still face challenges. One of the biggest is the integration of technology to streamline administrative processes. A strategy that some municipalities have used to increase economic growth is to manage their cities as an enterprise. By doing this, they give priority to their citizens and treat them like customers—which is different from the way many government entities operate—thereby creating a culture of systematic service.
But how have these cities managed to do this? By implementing technology in their day-to-day administrative processes and operations. Some of them have identified technological solutions that have helped increase revenues, maximize resources, improve planning, and optimize operations. These solutions have been crucial in setting up successful administrative platforms.
Some cities have evolved from the manual process era into the new digital era. For example, one municipality located in central Puerto Rico lacked the proper channels for addressing complaints, service requests, and suggestions, which caused dissatisfaction among citizens. To improve services, the city decided to implement a Rock Solid citizen management system, based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. When citizens send digital requests for non-emergency city services, the new system manages the entire process from beginning to end. Thanks to technology, this municipality has been able to deliver high-quality, innovative service to its citizens and provide them with fast service delivery and transparency. The municipality has also reduced operational costs because city departments are able to work with fewer employees. In addition, the municipality has achieved its goal of transforming from a service-focused city to a citizen-focused city.
A second important area where technology can help cities achieve economic development is in managing processes related to their accounting cycle. Another Puerto Rican municipality, located in the island’s south central region, implemented a Rock Solid solution just for this, with great success. The collections management system, based on Microsoft Dynamics GP, helps city employees handle every aspect of their financial and accounting processes, including requisitions, procurement, purchasing, and payables. Now, with minimal manual intervention, municipal employees have a more reliable, accurate, and secure collections process.
A big part of the success of a municipality is its ability to determine how significant its revenues are. It is important to have a reliable system to perform such an important task. After doing this for many years through manual processes, one city in northwest Puerto Rico was forced to look for a system that improved revenue collection efficiency. It implemented a Microsoft Dynamics GP-based solution to efficiently manage every aspect of its collections processes, including those related to transactions entry, municipal sales tax, and business licenses. As an example, the complex and manual procedures related to the issuing of business licenses are gone. As a result, citizens no longer have to wait up to two months to receive their business licenses, because licenses can be printed instantly and the entire process can be completed in minutes via the new solution. Additionally, penalties and interest could not be calculated easily before the solution. Today, the solution provides the correct calculations within seconds. This municipality now has greater control over revenue collection, automated processes, more accurate accounting, and lower administrative costs.
As you can see, today’s technology has enabled many local governments to integrate new tools for the benefit of their operations and citizens. These smart cities know how to evolve and adapt their vision so that their well-served citizens can be proud about the innovation and technological growth of the cities in which they live.