Digital Services for the People Who Serve the People

The city of Minneapolis deployed IT Service Management; then expanded the effort to create an enterprise platform to improve productivity and collaboration throughout the City.

Gina Filigenzi, Director of Information Technology for Minneapolis spoke about the City’s digital transformation at ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2019 conference on May 8. In Minneapolis, a workforce of about 4,000 city employees serves about 400,000 residents.

“The work of city employees is important and impactful,” says Filigenzi. “We’re all working towards the common goal of serving citizens. As IT employees, we serve the people that serve the people.”

Minneapolis has 16 different lines of business. Like any municipality, these lines of business vary widely. Police needs are very different from the finance department needs. The disparity can lead to silos, says Filigenzi. Minneapolis wanted to move to one enterprise platform.

“Anytime we can leverage a system across the enterprise, it’s a win for us from a support perspective,” says Filigenzi. “Equally important… [an enterprise system] helps departments work better, together.”

The process started with IT Service Management. For more than 10 years, Minneapolis outsourced IT to third-party providers. Filigenzi explained they needed more control and flexibility. They wanted the ability to develop new applications for employees and citizens.

The team reviewed options and selected ServiceNow. Filigenzi said they launched their Service Desk in 2015. The implementation was fairly standard: Incident, Knowledge, Change, Service Catalog, and Support.

Shortly after deployment, the team received very positive feedback and realized ServiceNow could be a broader solution, beyond IT. Users came to IT and said they were on the portal and thought a similar solution could help with one of their business needs, explained Filigenzi.

The IT team started to develop applications. In one of the first projects, the City replaced an unsupported, legacy Public Works Solid Waste application used to manage the pickup and removal of solid waste for 105,000 residents.

Although the legacy application was old, the department loved the data entry interface. This presented an interesting challenge, Filigenzi said. The IT team wanted to modernize the application so it could be supported and enhanced. The Public Works team needed new functionality but didn’t want to lose the old system’s interface.

Filigenzi’s team met all goals. They mirrored the legacy application’s format within a flexible, modern application. It takes less than seven seconds, on average, to review/create/update records. The new system provides the foundation for adding mobile functionality and GPS, Filigenzi said. “Now, if someone calls for service, rather than figure out where the drivers are, you can see who is the closest.”

Minneapolis also upgraded its non-emergency (311) information center. The 311 team needed a solution to serve deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. “Universal accessibility is extremely important,” said Filigenzi, “we want to be able to interact with everyone.”

The City worked with Aeritae to design a text message-based solution using ServiceNow’s Customer Service Management (CSM) module and Twilio. Citizens (and employees) can text 311 a question. They receive URLs back that direct them to information based on keywords.

ServiceNow’s Knowledge Base serves as the application’s foundation. While designed to meet accessibility needs, many citizens and employees prefer text communication and also use the tool. The City leveraged the application to serve the influx of visitors when it hosted the Super Bowl in 2018.

As a result of easy access to information, Filigenzi said they have reduced inbound calls to center agents. This is a win. “Anything we can peel off the agents and drive to self-service frees them to do more meaningful work,” explained Filigenzi.

The project is a good example of one department (311) improving their ability to work with all the other departments, Filigenzi added. 311 works directly with the public but needs to collaborate with every department on questions they can’t answer directly. The application improves and speeds up the process with workflows, notifications, and the ability to review metrics. For example, they can see which URL from a group is most popular or helpful.

The application is refined continuously and is highly flexible, letting the team address specific needs. For example, if certain threat words are sent to 311, the authorities are notified immediately and automatically.

After hearing about some of the early successes, the City Clerks department approached the IT team. This department manages requests for information (FOIA) and collaborates with all other departments to address the requests. They wanted a new application to manage the workflow more efficiently.

The team created a public-facing portal, with a front-end intake form, backend workflows, and status tracking. Citizens can request information and see the status of their request. The City Clerks team can easily and quickly route requests – it takes seconds to notify the right people to process the request. The City can track the status of all requests, analyze trends, and manage expectations. For example, Filigenzi explained, if one piece of data is requested 800 times, the City can see the interest level. If appropriate, they can make the information more readily available.

The portal currently manages 3,000 requests annually. “This was an example of a process where the departments were not able to work well together,” says Filigenzi. “Now, there are backend workflows, notifications, and automation.”

IT worked with the Police department next. The police are required to keep body cameras powered on and ready to activate at all times on their shifts. The cameras need support and service like all other equipment, and the City needed to improve their ability to track service and status requests. The IT team built a customized tool to report and track police body camera maintenance.

“The application allows the department to understand the status of every camera,” said Filigenzi. She said this project is a good example of how ServiceNow is flexible and helping to solve very specific business challenges.

One of the newest applications is an HR Service Center Portal. Previously, the Benefits department alone would receive 3,000 requests a year, all via email. It was difficult to manage the workload, and impossible to see request trends.

Filigenzi said they rolled out the HR Service Center with 17 different case types and a Knowledge Base. The new application made an immediate impact. “This was a huge process improvement,” said Filigenzi.

The portal automates repetitive workflow tasks. The City’s human resources (HR) team has visibility into overall workload and trends. They can provide leadership reports communicating HR activities. They can focus on priorities, and provide the best, fastest possible service to city employees.

Shortly after the HR rollout, the City’s HR and IT leaders realized they could and should connect their portals. “We wanted to create one employee hub,” Filigenzi said. “From that idea came the new CityLife Portal.” CityLife is a combined IT and HR portal for employee services.

Filigenzi says CityLife includes a service catalog, a product catalog, HR cases, and a Knowledge Base. The team is integrating information from their ERP system to enable role-specific dashboards. They will add additional departments down the road, including facilities and finance.

The IT team took steps to ensure they presented information as effectively as possible.

“We went through a lot of different human-centered, design-based activities with our users,” said Filigenzi, “in IT, we often assume people want to see the information the way it makes sense to us…”

The team pulled together a cross-section of employees. They represented different levels, from across the enterprise. Filigenzi said they put them through a series of exercises and asked many questions to understand what’s important to them. “This drove how we decided to build the structure,” Filigenzi explained.

Key features for employees include a simple ordering process for equipment, the ability to easily track IT request status, and time-sensitive employee onboarding checklists.

The City is seeing benefits throughout the organization. Departments can collaborate better, and be more efficient, said Filigenzi. The success has not gone unnoticed. Filigenzi says city officials see the service improvements. They come to her team to learn how they can take a similar path to tackle their own challenges.

“This sets the stage for us to do so much more,” says Filigenzi.

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