Chances are you’ve encountered something similar to this in your government career:

  • Boxes of mail piled high for an incoming presidential administration, with no instruction on how to respond to it
  • Millions of lines of proprietary software code running on servers that are way too expensive to maintain, and have long exceeded their life expectancy
  • 18-hour outages because “the system is down” in the middle of a work week
  • Cabinets of servers to receive faxes (!) and nobody really knows what might happen if all were restarted at the same time
  • Systems that have a 50/50 chance of returning search results, but only after you’ve had time to brew a fresh pot of coffee
  • USB drives full of .PDF files distributed over very sophisticated SneakerNet™
  • Reply-all email threads with a neatly attached Microsoft Word file named Memo_for_Clearance_April_19_2016 -Legal Edits -FINAL (2).docx that contains pages of Tracked Changes; and hopefully the lawyers started from the right copy before they made those edits

We all know the struggle to manage correspondence is a real problem that plagues government teams large and small. But there’s a better way. And that’s where the right cloud computing platforms and quality integration partners come in. Whether you’re managing requests for photos, sensitive casework with very high service levels, internal memos that need to be tracked for proper clearance, or millions of letters to the President, this problem has already been solved with cloud technologies in the proper expertise.

The first step to coming out of the dark ages of correspondence management is embracing cloud platforms that put you in the driver’s seat of your workload. I know what you’re thinking: “But my agency can’t move to the cloud because of (fill in the blank.)” I challenge you to see that you can accomplish this in an easier and more cost-effective manner. There has never been a better time to bring digital solutions to some of the common problems we face in government.

Too expensive?

I’d wager that what you spend maintaining on-premise systems and time wasted by coping with inefficient systems exceeds what you’d pay for a cloud solution.

Not secure?

Through programs like FedRAMP that partner with independent assessment firms and specially provisioned federal data centers, we’ve set you up to store everything up to FISMA Moderate categories of data securely already.

Still not secure enough?

Many of the industry-leading providers offer platform encryption beyond what they provide by default, so you can enhance your security even more.

Worried about cyber attacks?

Leading companies like Salesforce, Microsoft, and Amazon Web Services have built their business model on keeping your data safe, and they are much more likely to do a better job at this than your typical government technology contract.

How much would your team's productivity increase if you didn’t have to worry about operations and maintenance of a system to keep it online and secure? What if you could focus that recouped budget and effort where it really counts: by giving your customer a better experience when they come to you for service?

Now, imagine a powerhouse correspondence system that leverages the strengths of multiple cloud platforms to provide you with the tools that you need to get your job done quickly and effectively.

For example, there are correspondence systems available that:

Leverage the power of industry-leading Salesforce CRM technology to:

  • Track interactions across all your citizen-customers, determine their satisfaction level, and give you a complete history of your relationship with them
  • Allow you to know exactly where an item of correspondence is within the process, who has ownership of it, what status it’s in, and how long it’s been that way. A system that escalates items if they’re stuck for too long at a given step, and escalate it for attention
  • Let your external agency partners, or even your customers, securely collaborate with you around the exact correspondence item you’re working on - without the data ever leaving the system

Leverage the power of collaboration platforms such as Google Apps for Business or Microsoft SharePoint that:

  • Let you co-author documents in real-time, see everyone’s edits, and control versioning across your files so that you’re always looking at the latest copy
  • Store all your versions of the files in one centralized location and instantly revert back to one if you needed to compare it
  • Let you collaborate with your team right on the correspondence item in question until all issues are resolved and your team is satisfied with the outcome
  • Doesn’t bog down your customer or workflow database with file storage

Leverage add-in products and integrations with other platforms so that:

  • You can provide secure inputs and casework status tracking from your webpage
  • Respond to your customers over email, social channels, text messages, WhatsApp, or even Facebook Messenger
  • Securely and accurately collect PKI signed signatures that are as good as wet-ink

Are you interested, but don’t know how to get started?

You don’t have to know how to put all this together, you just need to know where to find the experts to help you. And those experts are readily available via a new contract offering we’ve assembled for the entire government to use: the GSA Salesforce Implementation, Integration, and Services contract. This contract provides you with access to the very best integration companies in the public sector arena, to partner with you on high-quality Salesforce work at competitive prices. It’s a model we tested and used at the White House to great success, and we partnered with GSA and OMB to bring it to the entire government.

Still not convinced?

Let us show you how in a safe government-to-government forum! Join our Federal Salesforce Community of Excellence and come to our monthly meetings where we discuss our cloud programs, share lessons learned, and work together to build a better digital government that improves service delivery to citizens. You can sign up through GSA Labs and we’ll get you invited to the next meeting.

Stop living in the dark ages of correspondence management at the mercy of an untenable workload and let us help you take control of your own destiny using proven technology and trusted integration partners. Success is much closer than you think!

About the Author:Rusty D. Pickens is the Senior Advisor for Digital Platforms at the U.S. Department of State where he focuses on empowering Public Diplomacy staff with technology to increase global engagement with foreign audiences. He joins the Department from the White House in his former role as Acting Director for New Media Technologies where he leads teams who operated cloud platforms for the President’s administration including, the Presidential correspondence system, and the We The People petitions system. Rusty's seventeen years of leadership experience aligning organizational vision with technology strategy across top federal agencies and start-up environments include the Federal Salesforce Community of Excellence, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee, Obama for America, and the Chickasaw Nation.