The saying goes that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The pandemic may have disrupted the way state and local governments work, and how they serve their constituents. But now it’s time to think strategically and look for ways to emerge stronger from a very challenging experience.
To keep operating smoothly in the face of these new realities, governments are focusing on three primary goals: safeguarding the health of employees and constituents, controlling costs, and ensuring resilience to meet evolving needs and future challenges.
In many cases, it’s possible to make significant progress toward these goals by streamlining routine processes such as shipping and mailing. Modernizing sending processes and technologies can help governments achieve a variety of related goals, including:
- Supporting remote workers
- Maximizing taxpayer dollars
- Maintaining health and safety
- Improving efficiency
- Ensuring compliance
- Enabling disaster recovery
Recent research indicates that 94 percent of government entities have some portion of their employees working remotely. At the same time, they need to send out even more mail than they did before the pandemic. Digital sending software helps remote workers get the mail out quickly while accessing postage discounts. There’s no need to buy stamps at the post office, and every expense is automatically tracked to simplify accounting.
Besides the outgoing mail, many governments have also reported an increase in outbound parcel volume. Because most state and local governments use a single designated shipping carrier, their negotiated rates may not be the most cost-effective in every case. This is especially true when sending parcels across town or within a state. With an online sending solution, governments can diversify their carrier mix and allow employees to “shop” for the best combination of rates and delivery options. They also gain total visibility and control of the shipping and mailing spend, from agencies and departments right down to individual senders.
The pandemic has also created new safety concerns around the delivery of incoming mail and packages. Because fewer staff are available to make deliveries, and social distancing requirements limit the number of people who can congregate around the mailroom, many governments agencies now rely on smart parcel lockers to enable contactless pickup. When a package or important piece of mail arrives, recipients are sent a text or email notification with a unique barcode. Scanning the barcode opens the locker and provides a confirmation that the item has been retrieved. In addition to contactless pickup for employees, some have begun using their smart parcel locker to deliver important documents, permits and licenses to their constituents.
Government offices that remain open are likely to be operating on reduced hours with minimal staff. Yet most state and local governments still prepare mail by hand, increasing the possibility of errors and delays. With technologies that automate folding, inserting, weighing and rating mail, it’s possible to realize tremendous gains in efficiency and improve accuracy. Automating the mail can also ensure compliance with privacy regulations by establishing a chain of custody that proves that the correct documents were delivered to the correct recipient at the right time. In the event of a disaster, centralized or outsourced mailing services can print, assemble, sort and induct batch mailings from an unaffected location.
The pandemic has re-emphasized the need for agile solutions to keep government operating smoothly in the face of unforeseen events. Cloud-based solutions provide the ability to shift operations to a different location as needed with no interruption in service or loss of data—and the flexibility and scalability to adapt as needs change and technologies evolve.
Learn how Pitney Bowes can help modernize sending processes to deliver savings and security now and in the future.