Man works remotely with phone, reports and computer

Authored by Chad Jarvi

Providing tools for departments and employees to interact and collaborate remotely has become even more important in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. These tools can present themselves in a variety of different forms and media.  They can be accessed directly through your enterprise resource planning software, or through a web browser or mobile app. 

Implementing collaboration tools will help your organization become more effective and offer the following capabilities to team members:

  • More timely internal communication
  • Ability to see information in real time and at their fingertips
  • Route tasks more efficiently to the appropriate people
  • Reduce the amount of in-person interaction between employees
  • Ability to answer their own questions with access to the proper information
  • Ability to see invoices and other documents in digital formats
  • Increased internal controls

Consider the following tools to help achieve the above efficiencies:

Electronic workflows

An electronic workflow takes a process and routes the information electronically for data entry, review and approval. Users can also provide alerts via electronic workflows. Some examples of electronic workflows include the following:

Accounts payable

  • Scan invoices to create an electronic format
  • Route scanned invoices to the appropriate departments for approval and coding
  • Ability to have multiple approval levels depending on dollar amount of invoice and other variables

Time entry

  • Employees enter their time and/or punch in and out
  • Employees enter time-off requests
  • Route time and time-off requests to supervisors for approval and eventual upload into the payroll system

Employee portal

  • Route paychecks and W-2s electronically to employees
  • Provide employee resources, such as HR documents and policies
  • Allow employees to update their withholding status, address, direct deposit information and other payroll information at any time

Budgeting

  • Ability to enter a departmental budget without the need for routing a spreadsheet 
  • Ability to detail the budget
  • Route budget for approval to those involved with the budgeting process

Journal entry workflow

  • Ability to make a journal entry and route it for approval
  • Ability to attach supporting materials substantiating the entry

Dashboards

Dashboards make information for departments and administration available at their fingertips rather than having to wait for reports or having to call someone in finance for assistance. The information in the dashboard is typically restricted to the department’s accounts and employees. Some examples of the capabilities in a dashboard include:

  • Budget to actual
  • Drill-down to see detail and any supporting scanned images (e.g., invoices)
  • Invoice and vendor lookup
  • Overtime analysis
  • Leave time balances

Mobile applications

In addition to electronic workflows and dashboards, having the ability to complete tasks while in the field is becoming even more important. Providing a mobile application that can be downloaded to a tablet or phone is optimal. Some examples of the types of tasks that are completed in the field include:

  • Service orders are utility-related tasks that need to be completed in the field. Communicating that you need a final read at a service address or that you need to fix a leaky meter without having to handwrite or print the order increases communication for involved employees.
  • Maintenance orders are similar to service orders but are assigned to the public works department. Communicating that a tree is down or a pothole needs to be filled will again increase communication and responsiveness for constituents.
  • Building inspections are still completed largely with pen and paper. Providing a mobile application for inspectors to view their scheduled inspections with access to relevant information related to the permit and property and completing the inspection in the field is important.

Above are some examples, and more exist. These tools and capabilities will help enhance communication across the organization, route tasks more efficiently and reduce the amount of in-person interaction employees need to have with each other.

Baker Tilly’s technology team is prepared to assist municipalities with these internal tools. If you have questions about implementing any of the tools listed above, please reach out to our team.

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