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Why are Government Agencies Turning to Document Management in the Cloud?
Saturday, 02 January 2010 00:00

Document Management delivered as a web-based subscription service commonly referred to as Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS can help stretch tax dollars, cut through red tape and provide transparency more effectively than conventional or legacy systems. Sometimes Software-as-a-Service is referred to as cloud computing, however cloud computing is what Software-as-a-Service is built upon. Cloud computing is the hardware and network infrastructure that make SaaS applications possible. Both Cloud Computing and SaaS have big benefits for any organization.

Software-as-a-Service can potentially reduce IT spending significantly. That’s good news for government agencies on ever tightening budgets. Here’s an examination of SaaS as pursued by the government, and its benefits. Even if you dont work at a government agency, cloud computing and SaaS applications can also be the perfect solution for your applications too.

Almost all IT professionals have now at least heard the terms cloud computing or SaaS. This type of computing is service based and companies or organizations (such as the U.S government) subscribe to Software-as-a-Service, instead of using in already taxed in-house resources. Examples of software-as-a-service application are Salesforce.com, various webmail services like Yahoo, MSN and Google and assorted payroll, accounting and other mission critical applications. SaaS eliminates the cost of hardware, IT resources and software maintenance while also providing disaster recovery. An added bonus is that users can access information from many different locations.

Another big benefit of SaaS is that it can be deployed right away. This can be particularly useful for government agencies, which often have to go through complex systems of approval and acquisition. Everyone needs the ability to simplify putting in these necessary processes.

In-house IT solutions and many traditional solutions that actually work take months, if not years to implement. IT resources are busy managing core systems, approvals are long, setup requires scheduling, and the whole process ends up being lengthy and complex.

Organizations that choose SaaS applications can do away with all this. Instead, they have only to contract with an outside provider to receive their solutions right away. For government agencies signing up, it is remarkably easy to do using the GSA Apps.gov portal. Implementing good IT solutions shouldn’t have to be a nightmare. After all, the longer and more complex the project, the longer it takes to get real work done.

Why are SaaS applications far more inexpensive than license-based or on-premise alternatives? SaaS companies can provide these solutions at a lower cost; they have one code base which means support and feature enhancements can be provided at a fraction of the cost of trying to maintain multiple code versions. Additionally the infrastructure at the data center is more efficient for the companies to manage and fewer resources are needed.

Document Management is one service that does particularly well as SaaS. This is the process of efficiently capturing and managing documents so that information is organized, shared, stored and protected as electronic documents. Most people have heard of the “paperless office.” Good document management software that is full featured and user friendly can reduce the need for paperwork without reducing the effectiveness of the documents.

Choosing Document Management solutions in the form of Software-as-a-Service is a smart option for many government agencies. After all, federal and state governments produce large amounts of paperwork and electronic documents that need to be tracked and organized. However, developing complex systems to manage documentation can take up a great deal of time and money. Choosing SaaS Document Management allows these organizations to save money and implement their systems quickly and more effectively. Plus, Document Management as SaaS means that important documents can be accessed at any time, from more locations other than just the office computer. As more employees work remotely and need to access document while traveling, this improves efficiency.

The U.S Federal Government is making SaaS and cloud computing a priority. In September 2009, www.apps.gov was launched, to help with the goal of lowering the costs of government operations and providing more transparency and accountability. This online storefront allows Federal, State, and Local government organizations to quickly and easily find approved SaaS vendors who can meet their needs. This one-stop source for cloud computing services could change how government IT works, and save a lot of tax payer money. Billions are wasted on applications that never work as expected and no one is held accountable. The current federal spending for IT is over seventy-five billion dollars. Using that money more efficiently is an important goal if the government wants to make the most of existing tax revenue as our needs continue to expand.

There are possible cloud computing applications for every task performed by the government. These range from environmental concerns to social services to public works. IT is vital for current government operation. The most innovative methods will help improve the U.S government’s ability to get things done, and with cloud computing technology, deploying those new products and services will become a great deal easier. Older methods wasted money and time. The new Apps.Gov portal will help prevent that, opening up new opportunities and functionality for many organizations that couldn’t spare the funding or time to implement solutions before.

So, what can workers and administrators in government organizations do to improve their document management, collaboration, business processes and compliance? The first step is taking a little bit of time to research and learn about government approved Software-as-a-Service providers. This can be done through Apps.Gov, or by contacting the providers directly. A little bit of information is all that’s needed to help decide which cloud computing applications will best serve an organization. SaaS is the future for many important functions. That’s why we need to take the time to learn about what it could do for our organizations. Faster, less expensive, and more efficient - cloud computing could make a huge difference.

 

 

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