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How State Child Support Modernized, Quickened a Key Process

The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the state department’s needs, and it partnered with an IT company to update the workflow, moving it off paper and improving visibility.

A linchpin department that serves minors and parents was able to refresh a key business process by working with a familiar IT vendor to the state.

The California Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) worked with GovTech 100* company SimpliGov — which has worked with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, among other state and local government entities — to deploy its cloud-based software-as-a-service platform in a crucial, but previously unexplored, context. The results modernized and dramatically shortened a legacy process that had taken weeks. Among the takeaways:

  • Approvals, particularly signatures, are a key part of virtually any government’s process. But at DCSS, a venerable, manual “red folder” process for “authorized and sequenced” signature for approval could require 60 to 90 days for manual collection as it circulated through the department. The process also lacked a mechanism for tracking red folders, making collaboration and status updates difficult or impossible and increasing the chance that a folder could go missing — or still be deemed “incomplete” at the end. The COVID-19 pandemic only emphasized these needs.
    “We knew we had to go digital and automate the red folder process,” Kimberly Peng, chief of the procurement and contract branch at DCSS, said in a recent SimpliGov use case on the project. “We had to streamline the timeframe from start to finish.” DCSS chose to work with SimpliGov, she added, due in part to its “ease of use, integrated functionality, and compliant government automation capabilities,” all of which facilitated a pivot.
  • The department initially planned to roll out SimpliGov’s no-code solution to 100 staffers, but because of the pandemic and the need for telework, decided to deploy it department-wide. The result not only automated and digitized the signature functionality — moving it off paper — but enabled assistants to facilitate support, allowed simultaneous rather than sequenced review and approval, and provided visibility on previous reviews. The solution’s intuitive nature meant DCSS finished the project three weeks ahead of schedule. And its process automation and online forms helped DCSS slash approval timelines start-to-finish from as long as three months to about 10 days — with visibility throughout. SimpliGov CEO Gary Leikin told Techwire it’s likely that timeframe will continue to shrink as adoption accelerates even more.
    “Now we have eyes on every request, and the person responsible is able to follow up and track what each person did, while mirroring the existing process in the system,” Peng said, adding: “We’re looking forward to building additional workflows on the SimpliGov platform in the future.”
  • The CEO offered two ideas to entities contemplating modernizing their own processes. Think about focusing, he said, to find a potential first deployment for technology like this. Tens or hundreds of processes may exist that could be candidates for automation — but resist the temptation to cast a wide net.
    “It is important to prioritize and tackle immediate business process pain points first to build organizational momentum around workflow automation,” Leikin said. “You want to sort of boil the ocean and identify hundreds of things to work on. But at the same time, I think what the Child Support team did, they knew the red folder was a key process and they wanted to get live with that process first while building a pipeline of processes to automate next with SimpliGov.” Taking aim at one process, Leikin said, can potentially yield two positive results: It can deliver a success more easily, and the results of that success can serve as building blocks for the next project.

*The annual GovTech 100 list is published by Techwire sister publication Government Technology magazine.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.