CRM has lots of proponents and lots of market momentum, mostly for all the right reasons. But one reason in particular--specific to the public sector and dramatically, almost radically, important in its potential impact--is taking on a new focus. If you're wondering why Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Oracle, and others are increasingly going after the public sector CRM opportunity, read on.
I have a proposal that I think would appeal to all sides of the political spectrum. How about a new moon shot for the United States: a full-blown, nationwide, public sector CRM program.
There's a whole lot more to public sector CRM than just cutting costs and streamlining services. It represents a new way to define the interactions between democracies and their citizens, and drive new models of constituent relations and civic culture. And a little uptick in civic culture is long overdue.
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Improving interactions between citizens and government has long been a goal of politicians, civil servants, and their constituents, but the ability to provide efficient and cost-effective service to constituents while empowering them to have a stake in their government has remained elusive. As the complexity of government service and the bureaucratic process has increased in the last century, the ability of citizens to feel as though they have a stake has diminished and engendered a growing disconnect with their governments.
These issues play out in the context of a global need to streamline government and render it more efficient while lowering taxpayer costs. These requirements have been ignored at best, and more often than not, the cost of new technology that might help address them has been high. Now, the global recession has made cost cutting essential for the preservation of much-needed public services.
In recent years, a new class of constituent relationship management systems has been deployed and is changing this discussion. Public sector CRM--long promoted as to cut costs--is emerging as a tool that can help reverse the trend towards disaffection and disempowerment, provide a bridge between government and citizens that promises a more effective civic culture, and do so in an extremely cost-effective manner.
Well-designed and well-implemented public sector CRM provides two key benefits: First, it can greatly improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of government services by facilitating, automating, and streamlining interactions among citizens, government employees, service providers, and other stakeholders.
In addition, CRM provides public sector workers with better tools to perform daily tasks, improving interactions inside government.
Microsoft is one of the leading vendors in this sector. Its somewhat disjointed public sector websites yield some great examples of how Dynamics CRM is used in public sector organizations all over the world.
Dynamics CRM is used for the obvious constituent management and 311 call center management functions, which are the closest to commercial CRM. It's also used for "offender management", a wonderful law enforcement euphemism for tracking the bad guys; asset and infrastructure inspection, repair, and compliance; event management; health and public health management; case management; permit tracking and approvals; teacher certification and management; and lottery sales and management. It's a long list that seems to have no bounds.
As an IT user, I get a little envious reading what some of these leading edge agencies are doing. Imagine if your town had a central CRM database that could be accessed for all the services you need. How about submitting applications for permits online? How about a geographic database that knows where you live so that when you report a street light outage, you don't have to find an obscure number on the pole? What about automating dispatch for pothole repair? As a taxpayer I would be even happier if my city did half the things a modern CRM system can do.