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4 Measures for Governments To Consider When Evaluating a Cloud Smart Service Provider

Choosing a cloud service provider can be more straightforward for your agency if you take the following into consideration.

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The Biden-Harris administration has allocated a significant amount of new funding toward technology modernization in an effort to address cybersecurity issues and provide government support for digital initiatives like Cloud Smart, a long-term, high-level strategy to drive cloud adoption in Federal agencies. Recent security breaches like the attack on SolarWinds have only made the issue of IT modernization more relevant for government organizations.

Previously, the federal government had only dedicated $150 million toward enhancing IT infrastructure under the Technology Modernization Fund. Biden’s new plan requests almost $10.2 billion for IT investment to modernize and protect the government’s digital service offerings.

With more funds in place, U.S. government organizations are increasingly adopting cloud smart technology that enables them to achieve their mission goals while being good stewards of taxpayer resources. This is an exciting time for government IT, but also a daunting one.

Evaluating and selecting a cloud service provider (CSP) that meets the goals of Cloud Smart can be a complex process, especially when considering the importance of government work. Governments should keep the following in mind when it’s time to upgrade their systems:

  1. Does the CSP meet strict security and compliance requirements?
  2. Is the CSP future-proof? How does it predict and prepare for future needs?
  3. What kind of government- and/or public sector-focused ecosystem is in place to support your CSP?
  4. Does the CSP have a proven track record in the public sector?

Here are four key measures governments should use when selecting a CSP.

1. Security

Government services record large amounts of confidential and private data. Due to the sensitive nature of such data, security should be a priority when choosing a CSP. However, traditional government systems tend to be outdated and ill-equipped to keep pace with the changing regulatory landscape. This can lead to negative experiences for leaders and constituents alike.

When choosing a CSP, governments should look for compliance best practices, such as adherence to FedRAMP authorizations, to ensure the best experience possible. Compliance with these standards can be the difference between secure data and vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks — an oversight that can cause constituents to lose trust in their governments.

Consider this: Can customizations keep compliances intact? Do configurations create vulnerabilities? What is the speed of recovery?

A secure platform can help build trust between the government and its constituents. With only 20% of U.S. adults trusting the government to do the right thing regularly, inspiring  confidence that their information is protected is an important step in earning their trust. Using a CSP like Salesforce Government Cloud Plus, a dedicated security environment for the U.S. government, can help government leaders deliver a secure and positive experience for their constituents and serve as an important building block in strengthening government-constituent relationships. One article even notes that public customers are 9x more likely to trust a government agency if they are satisfied with its service.

2. Future-proof

Governments are often tasked with managing legacy systems. These systems tend to be outdated, making it difficult for officials to meet growing citizen expectations and adapt to changing regulations. CSPs should be forward-focused with the ability to evolve quickly and effectively to meet complex mission requirements and citizen needs including distributing federal grants, delivering important resources like PPE, supporting remote workers, and more.

Drawn-out release cycles and infrequent maintenance can result in the technology quickly becoming outdated. With cloud technology, governments have the ability to build apps fast and customize solutions to meet evolving needs. For example, the State of Rhode Island launched its contact tracing program in 48 hours and continues to update its system to manage the spread of COVID-19.

Government agencies can digitize paper processes to help teams meet the demands of today while preparing for the future. For example, the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (AzROC) built a new application on Government Cloud to streamline their workflow and save an estimated 8,000 hours of data entry.

AzROC leaders brought all of their data together into a single source of truth to help automate their application process. This resulted in a 59% reduction in missing application information that allows employees to process applications faster — helping give constituents access to their information when they need it and getting their application approved quicker.

Regular release cycles help ensure that services are always up-to-date and equipped to handle current and future customer needs.

Consider this: How frequent are patches? Will the Cloud Service Offering ever be a version behind? Will the CSP continue to make significant product investments in the future?

Just as important is the impact future-proofed technology has on constituents. Innovative solutions let constituents know they can rely on their government, even as things are constantly changing. Constituents find peace of mind knowing the government is ready to handle any situation, even in times of crisis, and meet the increased demand for vital services like unemployment benefits or emergency services.

3. Ecosystem of support

Governments don’t operate in a vacuum — they rely on a network of individuals and vendors working alongside officials to deliver services to citizens. When evaluating a CSP, it’s equally important to look for an ecosystem of support to help ensure success.

Consider this: Can the CSP integrate with other systems like our Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP) or certain on-premise systems? Can we extend its capabilities? Can system integrators help with adoption? Is it easy to hire employees who have development knowledge or can learn quickly?

An app store with Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that have FedRAMP-approved listings can allow your organization to extend the functionality of your technology. All apps listed on the Salesforce AppExchange have successfully passed a Salesforce AppExchange Security Review.

Salesforce Government Cloud Plus also allows governments to build custom apps designed to meet the needs of their constituents. The core platform allows governments to develop custom data models and applications without ever having to write a single line of code. As a result, governments can launch robust solutions faster and better serve their constituents.

With Government Cloud Plus, you also have access to a leading system of system integrators who have vast experience with Salesforce, making sure systems are connected to deliver fully-integrated service. Having a single platform for all data makes it easier and quicker for governments to make decisions and distribute much-needed resources in their communities.

Government-focused Trailblazer community groups and roundtables are a place to meet virtually to share experiences and best practices around industry trends. These groups offer government personnel a place to find support with a community of industry experts and other public sector leaders who share valuable insights and lessons.

4. Proven track record

When it comes to choosing a CSP, experience matters. A CSP with a proven track record in delivering innovative, quality service is much more likely to be a successful partner than those with little to no experience in the government sector.

A CSP should demonstrate flexibility in its previous work, showing how it adapts to meet customer needs rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. When the State of Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) needed to unify their workflow, they selected the Salesforce Platform on Government Cloud. Indiana’s DCS was able to build a case management system that provided a single profile-like summary of the children it oversees, helping them manage over 258,000 cases each year and coordinate almost 4,000 employees.

Using the Customer 360 Platform on Government Cloud, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services deployed a comprehensive PPE management system to help order, fill, distribute, and measure California’s PPE needs to support its COVID-19 aid efforts, ensuring California’s frontline health workers got the resources they needed.

Discover new possibilities in the high impact world of IT for the public sector.

Matt Goodrich spent a decade in government developing, launching, and managing FedRAMP, the first government-wide cloud security program. As a Principal Solutions Engineer and Security Specialist at Salesforce, Matt helps government organizations innovative.

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