Cities Are Not Snowflakes

Posted by Steven Gentles on Jun 7, 2019 2:47:37 PM

Common City Problems Require Common Solutions

350+ US cities have north of 100,000 people. Although they all share common problems, each city addresses them with unique solutions. Why?accident-black-and-white-care-6703

I’m going to answer this question using an everyday need that cuts across all cities: effective and efficient document, drawing, and records management. Here are the four main reasons that solutions for cities and municipalities are pretty much always unique:

  • Information Environment Variety – Every town has a unique basket of software solutions in their environment. If you’re a city that relies on old ECM software (or shared drives, email, and Excel spreadsheets) to meet your needs AND you’re looking for a better solution, you’ll likely put out an RFP that is heavily influenced by the current state of your information environment.
  • Differing Requirements and Relative Priorities – I dedicate a small chunk of my day combing through the RFP requirements of Cities looking for a document, drawing, and records management solutions. To date, no two have been the same in terms of stated needs and relative priorities. This is because requirements are influenced by solutions already working in the information environment and relative requirement priorities.
  • Snowflake Software – No two software products are the same; each is singularly unique. Some are COTS (Commercial-Off-The-Shelf) solutions highly focused on solving a single problem (for example meeting management), and others are broad and general requiring a significant amount of configuration and customization supplemented by third-party add-ons to mold it into a capable solution (for example SharePoint).
  • Budget Constraints – Document, drawing, and records management software cost money to procure and implement. Budget constraints will limit the list of more expensive software options.

These are significant barriers to arriving at a common solution for drawing, document, and records management for municipalities. But they’re not impossible to clear. Take Salesforce as an example (a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software goliath that ‘commonized’ CRM solutions). Here’s how they did it:

  • Multi-tenant Cloud
    • Think of multi-tenant cloud software as a multi-story apartment building. You pay monthly rent for your apartment and monthly subscription fees for the software. You don’t own the apartment or the software (no capital outlay) but have the right to use both (as long as you’re paying and are an excellent renter!). Multi-tenancy is economical: building (and IT infrastructure and support) costs are shared across all renters and subscribers.
    • The building owner provides you with everything you need – the apartment, heat, electricity, water and wastewater services – and the software vendor provides you with access to the software
    • The building owner controls who gets into the building and you control who you let into your apartment
  • Highly Configurable – Make the software configurable so it can meet the needs of most customers without requiring any custom coding (customizations are expensive over the short and long term)
  • Enterprise-grade Features for All – Provide all the features needed by the most demanding large enterprise customers to all customers (large and small)
  • City governments around the world are becoming more aware of making sure their cities can withstand or recover quickly from unpredictable events and disasters.

By following these principles, Salesforce broke new ground. They created a highly capable, low-cost standard solution to a common problem that works for all companies big and small.

In the fall of 2019, Tina5s will be hosted on an exclusive municipal multi-tenant cloud platform. We’ll do for municipal ECM (documents, drawings, and records) what Salesforce did for CRM.

Are you interested in hearing more? Think we’re crazy? Contact us!

Topics: MMLConference, Maryland, Municipality

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