ICMA: The accelerated shift to cloud software in local government

"The cloud presents a number of benefits you can’t get from most systems"


On June 25, the International City/County Manager's Association conducted a free webinar examining local governments' shift to the cloud, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

County Administrator of Winona County, Minnesota, Ken Fritz discussed his county’s catalyst to moving to the cloud, explaining that initially the county was looking to modernize budgeting and reporting processes by adopting cloud solutions. The county then went on to add permitting and inspection applications as well as upgraded from legacy financial software to cloud software.

By moving applications to the cloud, the county wanted to eliminate housing hardware locally and reduce IT's involvement in maintaining said applications, freeing up staff to focus on other priorities.

KEY TAKEAWAYS BEHIND THE SHIFT TO THE CLOUD IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT

#1 Responding to the Crisis

The current pandemic has caused many local governments to consider how best they can provide a unified working environment for employees.

“We had to scramble, like a lot of people. … The ability to support 175 people suddenly working remotely using remote desktop access during the COVID crisis put a lot of strain on our IT team; if we already had interconnected cloud solutions for more systems throughout our county, our response would have been much more seamless" said Ken Fritz

Fritz discussed how COVID-19 pushed the county to reinvent government services to be faster than ever before; cloud applications empower employees with remote access to the tools required to complete their daily tasks anywhere at any time.

#2 The Benefits of Moving to the Cloud

Utilizing cloud applications has allowed the county to integrate software solutions more easily with one another, reducing silos within their government and sharing information across agencies. Not only has the utilization of cloud applications increased information flow within the county, but access to key information, data and reports is more accessible than ever before enabling better decision making.

“The cloud solves a lot of problems," said Fritz. "It handles disaster recovery; backups are done on the cloud side as well and updates are automatic. IT personnel can focus on other issues because you don’t have local hardware to support. … The cloud presents a number of benefits you can’t get from most systems." 

Fritz went on to explain that the cloud applications being used by the county offer collaborative features, process efficiency and flexible configuration, the positive impact being that manual processes have been reduced. This has increased the speed at which applications and permits can be processed, ultimately benefitting both staff and citizens.

#3 A Configurable & Interconnected All Cloud-Based County

When looking at what the future holds for Winona County, Fritz discussed the concept of one unified cloud platform for all their ERP needs that can evolve as the demands of the county change.

“A year from now, we’re excited to realize all the benefits of the cloud," he said. "We will have in place streamlined maintenance for a unified remote work force without having to expand IT personnel."

Fritz went on to explain that the county will look to utilize cloud solutions across government with a plan to consolidate systems without sacrificing quality. Best of breed solutions fully integrated with one another is the county’s vision of the future, offering easy access from any location and flexible configuration will increase county efficiencies and help when responding to unforeseen events, like the COVID-19 crisis.

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