In the 20 years that Database Technician Eric DeSmidt had been working at the Village of Mundelein, IL, he noticed one particular area where staff excelled: Collecting data.
The problem was that the data sat untouched, unable to tell a story of the Village’s successes or opportunities for improvement. That’s because the data was siloed in Excel spreadsheets, within Outlook messages.
“We had all these ‘interesting collections’ of data, but we didn’t quite know how to use it,” Eric said.
Launched Core Financials In Under 12 Months
Budgets Aligned with Strategic Initiatives
Business and Contractor Registrations Online
Launched Online Permitting
At the same time, internal and external customers were becoming more tech and data savvy. They knew not only that the data existed but that there are tools available to extract and analyze it. Whether a member of the public was making a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request or Village Board members were asking for website metrics, technology staff needed to deliver.
“Expectations changed and the old excuse that government is behind is not going to cut it in the future,” Administrative Support Manager Jonathan Kellogg said.
The crux of the problem lay within a 30-year-old legacy ERP system that was no longer supported and never fully developed. It was long past time to shed the archaic system with one that met the Village’s 21st Century needs. It was time for a full OpenGov Cloud system.
- Launched Core Financials in under 12 months
- Budgets Aligned with Strategic Initiatives
- Business and Contractor Registrations Online
- Launched Online Permitting
A Noticeable Strategic Difference
Village staff had been discussing for some time the need to move to a new cloud-based system, but then a series of events fell in place like dominoes, accelerating the decision to partner with OpenGov. First came a change in leadership. Then the pandemic. Finally, results from a community survey emphasized the need for the Village to track new initiatives.
“Our legacy system we’re replacing … didn’t allow for people to see data very clearly. It didn’t allow them to see anything very clearly,” Eric said. “It was cryptic and hard to use.”
Although the Village invested in the OpenGov Cloud, technology staff began with a soft implementation of OpenGov Budgeting & Planning by launching core financials and training staff. This modern, cloud-based technology shed a whole new light on data.
“Now we’re looking at [data] and seeing that as a resource, to not only look at data descriptively but to use it predictively, to use models for the exploitation of patterns in our data, and to make projections going forward,” Eric said. “That all goes into eventually streamlining processes and making for a better customer experience.”
Case in point: Only 32% of municipalities align their budgets to strategic priorities. OpenGov Budgeting & Planning changes the script for Mundelein.
With data readily accessible within OpenGov Budgeting & Planning, department heads can align their budgets with initiatives identified as priorities and see how they track the overall budget.
“We can now see through OpenGov how those initiatives aligned,” Eric said. “We never had that ability before. We’ve never been able to connect the dots.”
The Village has also created efficiencies with greater collaboration across departments. The silos that had been built over the years throughout Village offices are breaking down as staff communicate and strategize through the unified system. Staff also saves valuable time with the ability to submit budget proposals at any time of day, doing away with large packets of PDFs and cumbersome spreadsheets.
A Customer Service Win
The Village is also in the process of launching OpenGov Citizen Services, starting with online business and contractor registrations and express permits.
The ability to accept online payments for permitting is a huge win for the Village. Having lacked online opportunities before launching OpenGov, Eric wasn’t sure what to expect. What he saw was the ability of the Village to serve its constituents where they were and when they wanted to be served, even if that meant at 3 o’clock in the morning.
“One of the most important things about customer service and why it’s so important is that’s the avenue and where people interact with the organization and where you make those impressions,” Jonathan said. “People, in the way they act and the way they behave, can only go so far. Technology needs to be in place to complete that circle. If you have outdated technology, people can only take it so far.”
Poised for a Bright Future
Although the Village isn’t fully live with the OpenGov Cloud, Jonathan is quickly approaching the finish line. He sees a future of even greater efficiencies and more streamlined processes. The ability to provide more online payment opportunities will heighten the convenience of doing business with the Village. A plan to release an interactive, digital budget in the next year will boost transparency—and ultimately trust—with constituents.
Most of all, Eric and Jonathan embrace OpenGov as a welcome relief from busy work. These tech leaders see modern technology supporting front-line workers who are carrying out day-to-day tasks like issuing refunds or calculating fees.
“The whole package of OpenGov has been as robust as any of the others,” Jonathan said. “We’re really excited about what we are going to do with it.”
For Eric’s part, as he reflects on his 20-year history with the Village with an outdated ERP system, the change was a long time coming.
“Don’t wait to shed yourself of that burden,” he said.
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