How Governments Can Build Powerful Citizen Engagement Solutions with Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Human-Centered Design
Recently, AKA participated in the Citizen Engagement Summit, sponsored by Public Sector Media Group. At this annual conference, presentations and conversations focused on topics that are top of mind for governments of all sizes—utilizing mobile technology, social media, and the cloud along with working across agencies, procurement, and dealing with budget cuts, to name a few.
But there was one topic that stood out: how to design systems that better engage citizens. As anyone working in this area knows, there are many challenges to successful citizen engagement:
Communication channels – The number of communication channels is vast…and it’s changing every day. How do you utilize the many communication channels (email, text, website, mobile, voice) available? Do you use all? If not, which ones suit your needs best? And then there is the question of cost and resources. Who can best help you set up these channels? Who will manage them?
Technology – More and more, handheld devices like phones and tablets are dominating the user experience. How do you ensure your methods for engagement are appropriate for a mobile society?
Diverse audiences – Your job is made even more challenging by the fact that you must reach multiple generations, from millennials to baby boomers. These groups not only differ in how they consume information and communicate; they also have different levels of skill in technology, and they differ in what is important to them to be aware of. They even differ in their desired level of involvement. How do you reach such a diverse group effectively?
Tunnel Vision – This is a universal issue, not limited to the public sector. When you are on the inside looking out, you see only your view—not that of the citizen looking for information. What is obvious to you is not to them. So, when you design communication processes or tools, you might think you are taking the most effective approach when, in fact, that approach might be missing the mark entirely.
This is because we fall into the trap of designing from the inside. For example, if you are a city government with many departments that are responsible for a wide variety of areas, (from housing to business development to sanitation) the tendency is to design around how you are organized. However, citizens look for information based on need, not who is in charge. Citizens don’t know how you are organized, so how will they know where to look for information?
Enter human-centered design – To avoid the myopic mire—and take advantage of technology AND account for the diversity of your audience AND use communication channels effectively—you need to take a human-centered approach to design.
Human-centered design is defined by IDEO.org as “a practical, repeatable approach to arriving at innovative solutions…a step-by-step guide to unleashing your creativity, putting the people you serve at the center of your design process to come up with new answers to difficult problems.”
Human-centered design is all about creating solutions that are tailored to the needs of your citizens. It starts by putting yourself in their shoes, walking through their day, and understanding their needs. With human-centered design, it is important to have the ability to:
- Conduct interviews, surveys, and focus groups
- Sit with users as they work, enable peer observation and immersion
- Prototype solutions quickly to illicit feedback in real time
- Build working proof of concept solutions for people to test in real-world situations
How Microsoft Dynamics and AKA Enterprise Solutions can help
To design a solution that will fully engage your citizens, you need to start with a foundation designed specifically for that purpose. Built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, AKA’s Citizen Engagement helps governments improve relationships with the community through proactive communication and efficient response.
Citizen Engagement is designed to help you manage and respond to citizen requests, provide proactive outreach, and empower citizens:
- Comprehensive citizen relationship management, giving you the ability to engage with your citizens more effectively by taking advantage of various channels and methods of communication.
- Easy-to-use tools that let you design screens in real time for prototypes for internal solutions
- PowerApps, which let you create mobile solutions using simple editing – no coding required!
- Configurable portals that let you quickly extend internal solutions externally so you can get feedback in real time
- Integration with other productivity tools like Microsoft Office
- A flexible workflow engine, designed to fit the way you operate
- The ability to quickly and easily create and send out surveys and collect important feedback
Put your citizens at the center of your solution. Let AKA help you utilize all the resources available today to engage every citizen at every level.