The town of Gilbert, Ariz., isn’t unique in that it faces limited budget and staffing. However, the town of about 220,000 -- located just southwest of Phoenix -- does face one challenge in particular: It has one of the lowest government staff-to-citizen ratios in the region.
In the era of, “do more with less,” Gilbert passed a council directive that encouraged the city to become a technology leader by finding creative and innovative ways to utilize technology for town operations.
One such operation that needed attention was streamlined workflow management; it's something the town has struggled with, said system administrator Kirsten Larsen, adding that the town still heavily relied on paper-based forms.
“Everything we do we try to keep in mind of being a technology leader and being best in class, so for limited staff we decided we’d try to improve our basic business processes each day by automating them,” she said. “We wanted to eliminate paper, we wanted to reduce staff time and everyday processes by increased productivity.”
Larsen said the town wanted to implement a technology-based solution that not only streamlined processes, but also was easy to learn and use, particularly for individuals of ranging technology skill levels. To meet those needs, the town implemented K2 blackpoint – a workflow software that integrates with Microsoft Sharepoint.
According to Larsen, the town first implemented the product to automate processes for requesting hardware and software, then later implemented about a dozen other processes. One of the other components implemented was an idea management system that employees can use to submit ideas for organizational improvement. Larsen said the software also helps with other needs, such as streamlining budget information in a format that can be adjusted and tweaked to meet the town's needs.
Mark Kramer, the town's information technology director, initially gave the OK for Gilbert to move forward with K2 blackpoint, noting that the platform doesn't require programming skills and fit within the town's budget.
“It can scale to meet our future needs without losing the investment we’ve already put into it," he said in a statement, "and it utilizes our Microsoft platform."
When the system was implemented in November 2011, it cost the town roughly $25,000. Due to product upgrades, however, blackpoint is no longer available; it has been replaced with K2 blackpearl, which the town plans to upgrade to this summer.
In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.