In the private sector, consistently updated technology is a crucial component to beating competitors and driving profits. This is why businesses prioritize IT spending in their budgets. When looking at the public sector (aka the government) you find that consistently updated technology is much more infrequent. One of the leading factors keeping public entities from updating their tech stack can be largely due to the incremental, year-to-year budgeting processes that can make large investments in technology difficult.
Public sector organizations shouldn’t settle when choosing between systems that are just “okay”. And because a contract was signed doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a technology forever. We recommend that public organizations conduct yearly technology audits across their tech stack to determine if individual technologies are still meeting their needs.
1. Security - Prioritizing security is never a bad thing. Failing to do so can be.
Security protocols needed to protect data are in constant influx. New threats and vulnerabilities surface with every new software update. Infosecurity Magazine reported a 37% increase in cyber attacks at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in April.
This is especially relevant in public records where the line between public and private information is walked daily. With lots of the documents released to requesters requiring redaction, anyone getting their hands on unredacted information that was supposed to be redacted can spell disaster. Sometimes human error makes this misstep inevitable, but bugs, hackers, phishing, and every other bad actor the internet has to offer can also be culprits, with cyber attacks being a standout threat.
ACTION ITEM: Ask technology vendors for verified updates and additions to security and compliance capabilities during renewal conversations.
2. The Customer Experience - There’s nothing worse than coming to the realization that you were just a sale to a company. For example, what if after you’ve signed on the dotted line you come to find that customer service is hard to contact or even worse---your onboarding and training is taking weeks and months longer than anticipated?
Just like human relationships, a successful technology vendor relationship has an active line of communication post sale.
ACTION ITEM: For each software vendor used, have one admin and one staff user of that software rate the software on the following scale. Mark every YES with one point. A score of under 4 points indicates the software is not meeting your organization’s needs.
3. Continuous Feature Updates - How well does your software vendor keep up with evolving industry standard enhancements? Gone are the days where new software updates have to be “installed”. At least we’d hope so. Most modern technology vendors can push new versions, updates, and upgrades to their customers without the customer having to do anything on their side. That, and modern technology vendors should be transparent about their product roadmaps and release cycles.
ACTION ITEM: For each software vendor used, have the admin for that software rate the software on the following scale. Mark every YES with one point. A score of under 3 points indicates the software isn’t continuously improving.
4. Preparedness - COVID-19 has truly shown us how even in today’s 21st century world, you can never be too prepared. Systems that rely on manual or in-person processes aren’t effective for business continuity. What if instead of a health crisis, a fire burned up your office’s paper system? Or a flood destroyed the servers that stored all of your data?
Not only does your government organization need to be prepared for a disaster, but it’s also imperative that your technology vendors also have a disaster recovery plan as well. Plans should allow for the vendor to provide consistent operations and to quickly resume mission-critical functions.
ACTION ITEM: Ask technology vendors if they have a step-by-step disaster recovery plan in place to take precautions and minimize the effects of a disaster.
As a technology vendor we abide by a core company value of “continuous improvement”. Our continuous improvement process is an ongoing effort to improve our product, our service, and our processes. All three are constantly evaluated and improved based on their efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility.
See what our FOIA software has to offer at www.nextrequest.com.