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Best Practices to Manage Economic Development

Governments of all sizes around the nation, whether they be cities, counties, or states, understand the importance of economic development to building a successful organization.

OpenGov_Oct 2019_Optimizing Article
Governments of all sizes around the nation, whether they be cities, counties, or states, understand the importance of economic development to building a successful organization. However, there are some challenges that come with monetary vitality, regardless of the size of your government. Some of these potential problems include higher expectations placed on the government entity, more management tasks like capital projects and budget changes, as well as a growing community and the challenges that arise with more residents.

Fortunately, these problems have solutions, such as open communication between the government and residents, making your economic progress more visible and publicly accessible, enabling effective budget forecasting and management, and tying the budget to a strategic plan.

These issues were the topic of a recent webinar featuring Brenda Joseph, a Budget Analyst with the city of Pompano Beach, Fla.; Matt Stull, Southeast Sales Director with OpenGov; and Josh Ellars, Head of Marketing at OpenGov.

A Partnership, Not Just a Tool

Joseph began the webinar discussion by describing her personal experience using OpenGov at the city of Pompano Beach as their economy has grown and matured. Over the past year and a half, Pompano Beach has not only experienced economic growth but also major population and internal staffing increases. OpenGov has been with the city every step of the way through these changes, and they now view OpenGov as a true partnership rather than a simple software tool.

Furthermore, Joseph demonstrated how several departments like IT, Engineering, and Finance are using OpenGov as a resource for uploading data and generating reports that have been very helpful for answering questions from residents and understanding current performance metrics. Without having these systems in place in the past, departments across the city suffered from a lack of visibility that resulted in inefficient processes and practices.

Objective-Based Strategy

Pompano Beach has also benefited from using OpenGov for strategic planning that is directly tied to certain aspects of the budget. Currently, the city is using OpenGov to monitor and manage its performance of progress made toward clear objectives. For example, one of the city’s goals is to stay within the bottom one-third cost of living of all municipalities within the county. The city can easily monitor the cost of living through a dashboard within OpenGov’s platform.

Joseph continued to talk about the value she’s witnessed from using OpenGov’s dashboards for non-financial data, as well. She explained how the city uses OpenGov to understand reasons for employees working overtime, for example. Furthermore, almost every department has a dashboard that illustrates things like staff training needs, as well as where certain projects might be under-funded.

Staying In Touch with Stories

Another area where Pompano Beach has realized value within OpenGov is the Stories feature. Previously, Joseph explained, the city would create a pamphlet with an overview of the budget, revenue, and capital projects, as well as an area for Q&A’s. The problem with these pamphlets was the inability to reflect up-to-date information and communicate current data to the community.

Since using Stories within OpenGov, the city now has the ability to create public-facing information within a minute’s notice, and it allows the community to stay in tune with capital projects and their status, such as a newly constructed pier with restaurants for the community to enjoy. Pompano Beach wants people to see the new developments in their own city rather than by traveling to neighboring cities. This deeper level of understanding lets citizens vocalize their thoughts and stay informed, thereby breaking down the barriers between government and residents.

Having a Common Language

Cross-collaboration is another powerful result of using OpenGov. Before implementing OpenGov, Joseph described how the various departments in the city government were siloed and did not collaborate well with one another. After the city adopted OpenGov, she realized that communication is key for economic development. “It made sense to utilize one resource as the hub, as the epicenter for technology, projects, budgeting, [and] staffing,” she said.

Without having a central location for communication, collaboration and transparency across the city departments, there was a dramatic gap in efficiency and effectiveness. This new dynamic in using OpenGov has created a common language across the city. Joseph said it best when she simply described OpenGov as “a tool that allows us to talk to each other.” By taking advantage of all the ways in which OpenGov provides value to Pompano Beach, Joseph is able to bring her city one step closer to being more accountable and effective than ever before.

For more information on how your government can use OpenGov to build and manage economic development for your community, and to hear the full discussion above, view the on-demand webinar.

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