The state capital of Nordrhein-Westfalen made headlines not too long ago: the mayor of Düsseldorf wants to lower personnel costs and, in this vein, has decided to eliminate 20 percent of administrative positions by the year 2020 in a socially responsible manner. If the program is successful, the idea could become a model for all of Germany – assuming offices have the right IT.
People say a lot of things about administration: for instance that it’s not flexible, or that it’s slow or sluggish. Some people might even think of dusty old offices as behind the times in days when apps and smartphones have long dominated our streetscape. This is a fact that agencies can benefit from across Germany, not just in Düsseldorf. Older employees are present in workforces nationwide, and in the coming years they’ll be going into retirement in growing numbers. There’s no more socially responsible way to reduce the workforce than the opportunity this shift presents.
Processes under scrutiny
However, who’s going to do all the work remains an open question. There’s only one possible answer: all processes in all agencies must be subject to intense scrutiny. Where is work being done twice? Where can long decision-making chains be shortened? Where are operations too lengthy? Above all: which modern tools – in particular, which workflows and document management systems – will allow the remaining administrative professionals to complete the same number of processes, or ideally even more, within the same time period?
Prospect of a win-win situation for everyone
The fact is: the private sector has led the way in discovering that efficiency reserves are hiding everywhere – in almost every process. We can assume that administration – which, at least as it is perceived by many people, isn’t one of the most flexible types of organization – is hiding the same level of potential. This needs to be utilized, creating a win-win situation for everyone. Citizens can profit from more efficient and quicker administrative processes. Municipalities can save money. Employees of cities and communities can work, we hope, with a higher level of satisfaction than before. After all, nothing kills motivation quicker than inefficient, opaque decision-making processes and hierarchies.