Wow, what a week.
Simply put, this past week has been a shock to our collective system. Change has come at a dizzying pace and many are scrambling to adjust.
As we all come to terms with social distancing, flattening the curve, and working from home, we all must look for new ways to be productive and supportive, and to keep society moving forward. While governments and businesses may be closed to the public, governments still have services to provide and businesses must strive to keep workers employed.
At the same time, we live in a world that has been empowered by technology. Video conferencing, cloud collaboration, and social media have dramatically improved our readiness to adapt to the current crisis.
As a technology company serving the local governments who are on the frontline of this pandemic, we’ve spent the last week trying to figure out how we can support agencies in their efforts while adjusting to this new reality ourselves. We’ve tried hard to listen to and learn from our clients. And, we’ve talked about how to be nimble and adapt to better serve administrators and district leaders on the front lines.
Out of these conversations and self-reflections, two prominent themes have emerged.
1. Clear and factual communication is critical
ClearGov is and always has been a platform to help governments communicate more effectively, clearly, and transparently with the communities they serve.
It occurred to us that the app our clients use to communicate details about public-funded projects could be quickly adapted to build a fairly robust COVID-19 Information Center. The app is template driven and easy to use, and has built-in features that make it easy to push out updates on social networks and let citizens subscribe to receive automated notifications.
We created a sample page on our demo site, populated it with the kind of content we were seeing online, and emailed it out to clients to see if this was something they could use. Frankly, creating and customizing a turnkey COVID-19 Information Center like this takes less than an hour on our end so it was something proactive we could do for our clients while still keeping up with other demands.
Many local governments are now using ClearGov as a means to keep the public up to date on COVID-19. Take a look at how our friends in Cass County Missouri are now sharing coronavirus updates with their community. Other towns continue to reach out daily and our Client Success team is working to get information centers up and running for everyone who wants one.
2. Budgeting will become even more of a challenge
Another theme that we are hearing from local governments is that budgeting will present unique challenges this year.
First off, working in a remote environment can sometimes make collaborating with coworkers tricky, especially if you’re new to telecommuting. That said, technology has made it easier to get everyone working off the same page even when they’re physically in different places. In fact, ClearGov’s platform is specifically designed to help finance teams better collaborate with department heads and committee members in the cloud.
Second, how this pandemic will affect the budgets of local governments and school districts remains to be seen. For instance, while licenses and fees may taper, federal grants will likely increase. Planning for these scenarios will require a lot of back and forth.
I firmly believe ClearGov’s budgeting platform can help governments better handle these unique challenges. Finance directors are able to create what-if scenarios in anticipation of changes in expenses and revenue. In fact, they can create multiple best- and worst-case budgets to facilitate discussion and make better informed decisions.
I plan to keep writing in this space in the coming weeks and sharing what we learn from my conversations with you and your colleagues about improvising and adapting to this strange “new normal.”
I am confident that we will ultimately overcome this situation and be stronger because of it. In the meantime, let’s continue to support each other, share ideas, and keep moving forward.
Thanks for all that you do. Be safe.
CEO & Co-founder