Modernizing state and local government (SLG) systems has become critical to delivering a better quality of service to constituents. Many IT leaders and decision-makers agree that modernization efforts have changed citizen experiences for the better – including improving customer service and support, increasing awareness of available services and availability of digital services, and improving website usability and navigation.

While IT modernization progress shows continued promise for benefits in citizen services, not all modernization initiatives turn out to be successful. What makes a successful modernization strategy, and what strategies should SLGs avoid to improve their chances of success?

In a new research report, MeriTalk surveyed 100 SLG information technology (IT) leaders and decision-makers to uncover the impact of IT modernization on SLG citizen services, the most effective modernization efforts, lessons learned from modernization pitfalls, and best practices.

Modernization Hits: What is Working?

SLG IT leaders who’ve been successful in their modernization initiatives have made government interaction between constituents and agencies easier in the past year.

They credited a host of factors as the most impactful to achieve positive results in modernization efforts: 52 percent, for advancing cybersecurity measures; 47 percent, for modernizing IT infrastructure with cloud computing; 47 percent, for improving data storage, management, and protection; 47 percent, for improving analytics and data-based decision-making; 47 percent, for investing in emerging technologies; and 44, percent for modernizing records management systems.

In addition, IT leaders with successful modernization projects explained that effective project management, supportive executive leadership, and the availability of modern technology were all leading factors in their success.

Organizations with formal modernization roadmaps were also twice as likely to describe their organization’s modernization as “ahead of the curve.”

Modernization Misses: What is Not Working?

Despite making some progress, only four in 10 SLG IT leaders graded their organization’s ability to deliver excellent, equitable, and secure citizen services with an ‘A,’ according to the new research. Nearly two-thirds – 64 percent – of SLG IT leaders said their organizations are struggling to keep pace with rising citizen service expectations.

Many SLG IT leaders cited budget limitations as the number one factor in failed citizen services initiatives and modernization goals. The second most often cited factor was siloed operations. SLG IT leaders also explained that concerns over security and legacy technology were among other prominent cultural and process obstacles that limited modernization success at their organization.

Specifically, SLG IT leaders explained that outdated systems prevent agencies from delivering faster processing times for requests, real-time access to information, and contemporary mobile apps that citizens demand.

For the whole story, please download the complementary research report.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.