If you work within a government-funded organization, you know how rigid the budget can be. When budget cuts come down from the top – whether that’s the federal government, your state, or elsewhere – you find yourself scrambling to find ways to get the job done with limited resources.
So, what’s the solution? Is there a way to continue operating while bending to the financial restrictions that are being place on you? Let’s take a look at the current state of affairs first, and then examine how others are navigating similar challenges.
The Problem: Government Budget Cuts
Federal Cuts to Hospital Budgets
According to the Huffington Post, in 2018, there will be $3.6 billion worth of federal budget cuts affecting US hospitals, particularly those in poor and rural communities. Medicaid users and uninsured patients will experience a reduction in service, and drug discount programs will have a $1.6 billion reduction in funding.
Affected hospitals will struggle to keep their doors open and to continue serving patients in need of care.
State Budgets Cut to Education Funding
Community colleges are also feeling the impact of government budget cuts. Unfortunately, some administrators turn to mass layoffs when they begin to feel a squeeze in funding.
Diverse Education reported the layoffs of 27 people from Virginia’s Tidewater Community College in April 2017. As enrollment recedes and budgets tighten, this trend will continue to sweep across the country.
Law Enforcement Cuts – Hundreds of Jobs on the Line
In late 2017, Cook County made plans to plug a $200 million hole in the 2018 budget by laying off hundreds of employees working for Sheriff Tom Dart and Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Evans. Job losses will extend to the offices of sheriff and chief judge, as well as the Health and Hospitals System.
The county has been scrambling for a solution. As it stands, according to the Chicago Tribune and Jesus Garcia (the floor leader and a potential candidate for mayor), “The Cook County Health and Hospitals System alone will see $36.5 million in cuts, and the public safety will bear the brunt of the 425 layoffs. Cuts in essential services will affect all Cook County residents, but I am afraid they will fall disproportionately on the poorest communities.”
Strategies for Stretching Your Government Budget
When budgetary restraints demand drastic measures, what can be done? Can an organization withstand severe monetary restrictions and still continue to serve the community? Below are three organizations that were able to utilize document management and workflow software as a means to stretch their government budgets.
Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital
An acute care hospital located in Florida, Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital discovered a critical issue: they were unable to access patient files quickly enough due to inefficient file management practices. Their file room contained 33 cabinets and 2 years’ worth of records, binding them to paper-based, slow processes.
Time and manpower was wasted, day after day, until the organization decided to implement a powerful Document Management solution that could take them into the digital world. Down the road, Helen Ellis expanded their use of DocuPhase’s workflow software, creating processes within their Accounts Payable and Finance departments. Now their employees are able to utilize a paperless AP process that’s seamlessly integrated with their existing accounting systems.
The costs of all related processes have gone done, while their back office has become more efficient and more reliable.
Polk State College
When Polk State College found themselves facing tremendous budgetary restraints, they knew they needed a solution for their paper-based, error-prone processes. A 66% growth in their student body had gone unaddressed by the registration department, resulting in misfiled student records, and a poor experience for students and faculty.
With DocuPhase, the college was able to reduce their administrative workload by 80 hours per week, and their students were able to have their needs addressed immediately, without having to wait for manual processes to be carried out. Misfiled documents are no longer a problem, as all records are now electronic and can be looked up by student name or number.
Over time, they’ve grown the automation platform to include virtual filing cabinets for their meeting minutes, re-accreditation record keeping, and more.
Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office
Employing over 600 officers, administrators, and support staff, this sheriff’s office in Winston-Salem, NC, had its hands full. By the time they turned to DocuPhase for help, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office had logged over 12,000 bookings, brought over 11,000 charges, and made over 5,000 arrests. The demand of serving a population of 331,859 people had kept them busy – too busy, in fact, to deal with the filing, storage, and retrieval issues that were becoming increasingly difficult to manage and far too costly with their current staffing levels.
What was the solution? It all began with Document Management. FCSO was able to find automation software that allowed them these key things:
- Control over their documents
- Ease of use and flexibility to fit their needs
- Powerful search capabilities
- Integration with Sungard, their public safety software
- Online access to documents, for their 125 patrol officers with in-car computers
The recurring theme is clear. Frequently, back office solutions can help tighten up budgets without causing an organization to lose productivity. Consider how many hours your team spends filing and searching for documents each week. A good document imaging system can cut down on administrative time by automating the capture and filing of the documents that flow through an organization.
Beyond that, Robotic Process Automation tools can help automate things like approvals, notifications, email reminders, and more.
Want to take a look at other ways that RPA software can work for your needs? Check out our free ebook, What Is Robotic Process Automation?, to learn about the best automation tools for your organization.