Oklahoma City Puts Emphasis on Employees When Implementing Office Technology Changes

Oklahoma City (OKC) is no stranger to growing pains. Like so many cities and local governments facing budget, resource and time constraints, Oklahoma’s fastest growing city has sometimes had to do more with less. But despite this, we remained committed to moving our city forward and putting our more than 5,000 employees at the center of everything we do from an IT and business perspective while implementing change, and we are often the pioneers of the changes we implement.

Advancing our human capital management strategy and implementing a new system has helped us close long-standing human resource gaps, optimize our back-office workflows, and allow us to focus on supporting our employees in their daily work. In doing so, our employees work smarter, not harder, to support their growing community. For other cities and local governments working in the same direction, here is my advice:

1) Enable smarter working methods. From an employee perspective, our new system looks better, works better, and is easier to use, which has helped us build trust in the app and drive adoption from the start. With any business-level change, making things better for users (our employees) is always our top priority, whether it’s simplifying a process or helping to implement a better business practice. It really is the key to fostering an inclusive and diverse work culture where people are motivated to deliver exceptional results while feeling valued and having their voices heard.

2) Don’t be afraid of change. Often legacy systems have been around for decades and people often do things only one way because “that’s the way they were always done”. Taking the time to understand your business by working with your end users, knowing their pain points, is essential. When OKC migrated our time and attendance needs to a modern workforce management system in 2020, we standardized nearly 20 years of outdated configurations and created significant efficiencies to help our employees to work smarter. Instead of a lift and a shift, take the opportunity to examine the inner workings of your systems and analyze if the processes still make sense and follow best practices.

3) Streamline and centralize employee data. Make it easier for your employees to access their own employees’ data: their hours worked, their payslips, their tax forms, etc. Why should employees ask a manager for these things when you could give them access to their own self-service dashboard? The same goes for department heads. Increasing operational data visibility for our managers and payroll officers makes a difference by enabling them to make informed business decisions in the moment that are supported by data trends.

4) Unburden your employees so they can reach their full potential. Today, nearly 100% of OKC employees electronically validate and approve their scorecards, up from 60% previously. In addition to protecting employees and ensuring they are paid correctly, automating this process now requires our payroll team to do much less data entry. To put a figure on this, our 150 payroll officers spend less time processing payroll each week – four hours less, on average, which is an estimated savings of 600 hours per week citywide. Our payroll team does more analysis now and their roles have become more sophisticated and empowering. We are already seeing this translate to higher levels of productivity and expect our employee retention levels to benefit from this, as people tend to stay when they feel a greater sense of accomplishment in their role.

State and local government digital transformation is a powerful endeavor that has helped many people modernize old processes and unlock a wealth of data about their workforce. But you have to ask yourself: Who does this benefit? OKC’s decision to invest in people and make them a central part of our enterprise applications strategy has been key to increasing productivity and advancing the work culture across all of our departments. It’s not just about saving time and money, it’s about putting humanity back in data. Each graph or report represents a person with a story.

Stephen Fuller is the Enterprise Program Manager for Oklahoma City and has been with the organization since 2014.

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