Case Study

How Technology Helped Hempfield Township Reimagine Business Processes

At 250-years old and 25 zip codes wide, Hempfield Township, PA, is a well-established community less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.  With both rural and urban areas, Hempfield leaders face the challenge of serving an expansive and diverse community. 

Like many other local governments, the Great Resignation left Hempfield Township with the challenge of replacing staff and the opportunity of reimagining how to work to move forward.

Township Manager Jason M. Winters saw multiple staff departures as a chance to hit the reset button. Teaching new staff members how to use the outdated and convoluted technology seemed to be taking a step in the wrong direction.  

After leading the technological renovation of the Parks and Recs Department, Jason united his staff around the necessity to modernize technology in order to move forward.

“Don’t be afraid of making the change. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid of technology, and don’t be afraid of how people will react. You can’t let anything hold you back.”

–  Jason M. Winters, Township Manager, Hempfield Township, PA

As  Jason hoped for, new technology catalyzed new business processes, redefining the Township as an innovative local government and permitting powerhouse.

Population

Agency Type
City

Annual Budget

Role
Administration
Community Development

Region
Midwest

Solution
Citizen Services
Financials

Customer Results

4 Departments Using OpenGov Citizen Services

100% of Permits, Planning, and Compliance Available Online

50% Staff/Assistant Time Reallocated to More Strategic Work

The OpenGov Decision 

Jason and his team looked at multiple vendors, ultimately choosing OpenGov Citizen Services for the following reasons:

1. Completely Paperless Permitting to meet the “work from home” expectations of a post-pandemic world… 

“As much as we are here for the public, I like it better when they can do things at home,” Jason chuckled. An online process for permitting, planning, inspections, code & compliance is not only more convenient but also more efficient by a landslide. 

With an automated online workflow, Stacks of permits no longer sit on desks, and Inspection requests are not contingent on whether or not the inspector makes a trip to the Building and Planning office that week. Residents can file complaints in their pajamas, and Township staff can issue updates on these complaints in real-time. 

“We are in a time where we should be able to pick up a laptop and do what we need to do. Not worry about where we are,” said Jason. 

2. The OpenGov Reporting & Transparency Platform offers a tool to increase and signify external and internal transparency.

The Township is in the process of releasing a $28 million bond. With OpenGov Stories, Jason can keep residents informed of all important financial decisions in a method that is both compelling and easy to understand. “We have an obligation to tell the public how we’re using it and why we are doing what we are doing, says Jason. 

Jason also plans to use OpenGov Stories to communicate internally, specifically at his monthly meetings with the board. “Right now, I just send them seven different PDFs, and they just have stacks of paper sitting there. So, I’m excited to get away from that.” With OpenGov’s interactive dashboards, Jason could also present data to the board in graphs, charts, etc., bridging the gap between the data and decision.

3. OpenGov provides the means to increase cross-departmental collaboration and efficiency.

Implementing OpenGov allowed Jason and his team to look deeper into their internal business processes. How could cross-departmental collaboration be increased? How could busy work be automated? How are we prioritizing our time? 

“We are no longer stuck in our ways with how we do things. We want to be challenged. We want OpenGov to help us reimagine how we operate.”

–  Jason M. Winters, Township Manager, Hempfield Township, PA

Results 

The Township of Hempfield implemented OpenGov Citizen Services in 2021, uniting the business practices of 4 major departments—Public Works, Fire, Coding & Safety, and Planning & Zoning— on a single platform.  

Initially, Township staff were concerned that community members preferred printing, paper, and pencils. However, residents were “ecstatic” about the online upgrade.

“[Residents] were tired of printing out ten copies of a map twice during the planning process, just to be thrown away after the meeting. Whereas now, they can just upload them once right into the system,” said Jason, “The apprehension from the public just hasn’t been there like my staff thought it would be.”

hempfield township, PA

What’s Next? OpenGov Financials. 

While the Finance Department was also onboarding new staff members, it quickly became evident that the financial system of 10+ years was also outdated and not user-friendly. 

With the success of OpenGov Citizen Services, Township staff and board members were readily on board to replace the “clunky” finance system as well. Jason admits that the decision to pursue OpenGov Financials was straightforward: “I’m a loyal person. I liked what I saw from OpenGov Citizen Services, and I liked what I heard about OpenGov Financials. OpenGov was the only vendor I looked at.” 

Another benefit to OpenGov Financials was keeping data unified to increase cross-departmental collaboration. “We don’t need to have six different systems trying to do things. I’d rather have everything in one place,” said Jason.

The Township will likely go live on OpenGov Financials in early 2023.

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