The 4 Key Ingredients for a Successful Municipal SeeClickFix Implementation
On March 19, 2014, Huntsville, AL launched Huntsville Connect, a program that allows nearly 184,000 Alabamians to alert and communicate neighborhood concerns to the city. A public launch is essential to optimal civic engagement - It is also a testament to the hours of planning efforts and coordination necessary to provide and effective customer service solution to residents.
Every SeeClickFix partner municipality goes through five implementation stages – The Introduction, the Project Kickoff, the Account Configuration, the Testing and Training and the Public Launch.
Why do some municipalities more easily transition through these implementation stages? Multiple factors can delay or accelerate an implementation. Kelly Schrimsher, Director of Communications with the City of Huntsville, discussed why Huntsville’s implementation was so successful. In under four months, almost twenty departments were successfully trained and ready to respond to citizen issues – a feat nothing short of impressive!
Here are four factors Kelly identified as being essential for a successful implementation process:
1. City and Department-Wide Endorsement
Greater acceptance of SeeClickFix throughout the city – by the Mayor, all department heads and staff – allows for a smooth implementation, launch and a sustained and scalable program.
Departments or individual employees who are unsupportive of transparent information ultimately impede the implementation process, adding unnecessary complications. These complications are likely to continue and grow post-launch. When this happens, it very quickly becomes apparent what department is not responding to a specific type of service request! Your residents will report issues whether or not select departments are ready to receive them, so citywide acceptance is critical.
Our Mayor and City Administrator were supportive of a digital citizen reporting tool. We held several webinars with department heads so they could see SeeClickFix and understand what we were trying to accomplish. We identified challenges and opportunities, too, so by the time we launched, everyone knew what was expected and they weren’t daunted by a few minor bumps.
2. Streamlined, Internal Communication of Knowledge
While municipalities vary in the internal coordination and organization during the implementation phase, it is advisable to have one or two designated leaders who field any questions while keeping the program on track.
Initially, Kelly interviewed all departments to determine the top service requests. Ultimately, they wanted to make the citizen experience for issue reporting as simple as possible.
Huntsville also developed a process for internal communication during the implementation period. In addition to monthly meetings, all questions and answers would be shared to all involved in the implementation. This streamlined knowledge about SeeClickFix, created cross-departmental synergism and encouraged excitement about the service.
One lead staff person was selected in each department to take or distribute responsibility of incoming assigned issues. Backups within each department were identified to account for times when the lead was unavailable. Certain departments, such as community development, have three or four leads.
Standard rules should be established and accepted in the implementation stage and enforced post-launch. Huntsville agreed to acknowledge all incoming service requests within 24 hours as a way to promote trust in the system and foster government accountability.
3. A Dedicated SeeClickFix Implementation Manager
This is an automatic given for any new partner - With almost 200 successful municipal implementations, a SeeClickFix Implementation Manager will provide expertise, guidance, and a bit of fun!
Implementation managers lead and assist municipalities throughout the entire process, ensuring smooth transitions that culminate in a successful public launch.
[Our Implementation manager] was wonderful and had training sessions with our customer service representatives…She was very reassuring and empowered our staff to view Huntsville Connect as a positive tool for helping the city be more responsive and efficient.
4. An Organized, Public Launch
The work that goes into the implementation process should be both celebrated and promoted with a public launch. A broadcast across multiple channels contributes to the lasting awareness and success of SeeClickFix.
Launch preparations should be included in your initial conversations, both internally and with your implementation manager.
Huntsville’s impressively coordinated public launch included a news conference with the Mayor, an electronic billboard highlighting the service and Huntsville Connect business cards that they “pass out like candy.”
There is a lot of pride in seeing SeeClickFix work and receiving accolades from citizens,” said Kelly. “The departments love that they are high-tech and at the forefront of innovation.