Readiness Challenge Update: How Philadelphia saved 200 hours

Do smart cities initiatives really make a difference? Ask Philadelphia, which found a way to trim more than 200 hours — nearly five and a half weeks — from a time-consuming process. It’s a reduction of about 90%. The savings are real.

Philadelphia is one of our original Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge winners and it’s investing in digital processes as a way to simplify its own workflows. It started with a labor-intensive process to launch an RFP. GovTech covered the process transformation in detail; we’ve provided some highlights below.

But it all begins with a shared vision and an understanding of how technology and process improvements can transform cities. Want help? Get on the interest list for our 2019 Smart Cities Council Readiness Challenge. — Kevin Ebi

An effort to transform the way city processes is already saving Philadelphia more than 5 weeks of time — and that’s just the beginning. The city is finding the savings through a combination of ditching paper for digital workflows, while trying to simplify the workflows themselves.

Dramatic pre-RFP savings
Philadelphia has already made progress in three lines of work, but perhaps the biggest savings has come from its pre-RFP process. Work that used to require 246 hours of effort now takes just 27.

The old system was paper-based and staff wasted significant amounts of time trying to handle it all. The new system is not only digital, but more automated. Software guides staffers through the steps.

Other areas of improvement
But not all process improvements require substantial investments in new technology. An off-the-shelf online signing and signature tracking service has simplified the work needed to sign off on HR decisions.

The old process was paper-based and required as many as a dozen signatures on a card. And if anyone made a mistake, they needed to start fresh with a new card. Now, even vendors can provide and sign electronic contracts.

Philadelphia is also working with a local start-up to improve its processes for creating or backfilling jobs.

Delivers real results
While things like pre-procurement and HR decision tracking may sound boring, Philadelphia says the results are exciting. More work is getting done in less time. The community is better-served.