Photo: Curt Kolcun, vice president, U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft
In response to the demand for flexible, hosted vertical industry application solutions, Microsoft Corp. unveiled a new suite of offerings today that it says will revolutionize how government and education customers manage critical pieces of their business. The new brand, Public Sector On-Demand Solutions powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM, is a set of solutions designed for U.S. government and education organizations seeking an alternative to traditional on-premise applications.
"Public sector customers are working to deliver the next generation of capabilities to dramatically lower costs, increase productivity, streamline operations and reduce custom development time," said Curt Kolcun, vice president, U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft. "The Public Sector On-Demand cloud-based solutions we are launching with our partners represent the first of many such hosted applications. This is a big step forward for Microsoft in providing choice and flexibility for how these solutions are delivered."
Microsoft launched Public Sector On-Demand Solutions with the establishment of a community engagement site, Public Sector Idea Bank, developed with Neighborhood America, an award-winning enterprise social networking platform provider. Idea Bank will feature the solutions announced today and serve as a central collaboration vehicle for Microsoft, its partners and public sector customers to interact, discover new solutions and share ideas for new tool development.
These solutions also are intended to help customers with technology priorities outlined by the Obama administration, including a more transparent and connected government, or what many are calling "Gov 2.0." The concept of Gov 2.0 is about opening up two-way communication within and between government agencies and between government agencies and citizens. Microsoft's Public Sector On-Demand Solutions help organizations improve communication and citizen services through a full-service, constituent relationship management service, hosted by one of Microsoft's certified partners. The cloud-computing, browser-based service provides public sector organizations with off-the-shelf tools that aggregate a 360-degree view of critical data, enterprise-class reporting and analytics, all with virtually no ramp-up time.
Microsoft's Public Sector On-Demand Solutions were created with the help of four partner organizations - Eskel Porter Consulting Inc., Mitchell Humphrey, Information Strategies Inc. and Metaphor Software. The solutions, available at http://www.publicsectorondemand.com, include the following:
· Public Records Tracker. Public Records Tracker organizes and automates the public records request process for state, local and federal government organizations that must respond to Public Records Act and Freedom of Information Act requests. Public Records Tracker's easy-to-use interface allows public employees to enter a new public records request, track all communication and activities associated with the requester, and deliver a response - all from a single screen. In addition, Public Records Tracker sends alerts when the request is approaching its mandatory due date to ensure that the agency maintains compliance with regulations and provides executives with the key reports they need for measuring results.
· FastTrackGov Citizen Service Solutions. FastTrackGov is a hosted subscription-based system that provides a full suite of automated community development applications for licensing, permitting, code enforcement and inspection management. Serving a variety of organizations, including county and municipal governments, government agencies, special districts, and taxing authorities, the system enables users throughout a public agency to manage a broad array of revenue sources from a single, security-enhanced, integrated system. By dramatically improving control over processes, organizations hope to increase productivity and efficiency, expedite revenue collection efforts, and enhance citizen satisfaction.
· Agenda Builder. The Agenda Builder on-demand solution provides organizations with electronic review and approval capability for agenda items, resulting in significant time and paper savings. Through workflows and tight integration with Microsoft Office, users, managers, elected officials and their staff members can monitor progress on agenda preparation to prevent
unnecessary delays. Agenda Builder can be used to streamline agenda preparation for city council meetings, county commissioner meetings, hearings and other types of formal meetings that require preapproval of agenda items while helping organizations achieve their "green" initiative goals through reduced paper usage.
· Constituent Issue Manager. The Constituent Issue Manager on-demand solution provides elected officials and their staffs with case management tools that facilitate timely responses to constituent requests. Requests for assistance or information can be captured through a number of sources and are recorded through the easy-to-use interface, which provides an address validation capability and duplicate detection logic. Constituent Issue Manager provides the tools necessary to deliver improved constituent service at a lower cost than paper-based alternatives.
· Inspection Manager. The Inspection Manager on-demand offering provides organizations with a Web-based case management solution that gives field inspectors and inside office staff the tools needed to schedule and perform field inspections and manage the abatement process when violations are found and citations are issued. With Inspection Manager, organizations can plan and perform inspections more efficiently with an easy-to-use case management tool for resolving cases where violations are found.
· Backpack 2008 Student Information System (SIS). Backpack is the first on-demand social student information system of its kind, designed to revolutionize SIS technology and provide the ability to centrally manage all aspects of an entire school district. Backpack has two components:
- Backpack SIS. This interface allows administrators, staff and teachers to manage all aspects of the district down to individual classes and students. With Backpack SIS, teachers and staff can easily manage attendance, grade book information, courses, students, master scheduling, state reporting and assessments. By automating tasks that otherwise consume time or cause frustration, stress is reduced while freeing more time up for teachers to teach.
- Backpack Community. This Web portal provides parents and students with full, real-time transparency, interactivity and communication with teachers and each other. Backpack Community brings parents, students and teachers together through a safe and secure online community, promoting information transparency, accountability and family involvement in an environment geared for how today's students want to interact online with their education and each other. Parents can see in real-time how their child is doing and even set up alert e-mails or text messages for specific updates.
More information on these six solutions can be viewed at Microsoft's new public sector on-demand community, Public Sector Idea Bank, created with the help of Neighborhood America's social network platform.