Skip to main content

Mobile BPM Software Can Unify Government Telework Policy "Mixed Messages"

Ben Farrell
July 8, 2011

The Federal government is sending mixed messages when it comes to telework. BPM software, accessed via mobile devices and delivered through the cloud, can unify both the federal strategy for and the tactical execution of enabling an increasingly remote and mobile workforce.

The Obama Administration is aggressively pushing to move applications and information to the cloud ñ and to ensure that federal employees can use mobile devices and related technology to create more open, responsive, adaptable interactions with each other, and with citizens. On the other hand, there's still a fundamental disconnect in the way the government sees telework, confining it to official telework centers that receive low marks from federal employees - and continued budget cuts.

BPM software presents a new, more cost-effective way to enable federal telework.

For years, the General Services Administration has maintained telework centers around the Washington, DC region (as opposed to allowing employees to actually work from home or the road, which is the generally acknowledged meaning of the term...). Recently, the GSA has opted to shut down half of those telework centers.

The remaining centers don't appear too attractive to their intended inhabitants. A survey that has received considerable media attention lately indicates that employees would rather not telework at all than to use these centers. According to an article about the survey in Federal Computer Week, "72.4 percent of respondents said they found the centers unnecessary and would rather work in other remote areas of their choosing in addition to their homes, such as a local coffee shop, before working at a telework center."

These findings are revealing. Given current economic hardships, the cost of maintaining facilities for underutilized telework capabilities would obviously be best done away with altogether. Yet the December 2010 Telework Enhancement Act requires agencies to create telework eligibility plans for their employees.

One logical solution to eliminate the cost while providing an alternative plan would be to implement mobile BPM tools delivered in a cloud environment.

A native mobile BPM interface for iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android ensures that employees at all levels can stay connected to key processes. The mobile environment allows for better process participation and improved efficiency. At the same time, a cloud BPM platform can deliver complete functionality in a low-cost subscription model for rapid deployment and predictable costs to a federal agency.

Taking half measures by shutting down selected telework centers simply makes no sense when employees themselves say that concept is entirely unnecessary. The maintenance costs for those centers remains on the books as the facilities languish. Meanwhile, the very technologies that the federal government's IT leaders are promoting ñ cloud and mobile computing ñ provide the same level of collaborative connection at a fraction of the cost, eliminating the larger expense of telework centers practically altogether.

Mixed messages, indeed. The federal workforce is speaking, and what it's saying points to the need to re-examine how telework is done. The technology to make a real sea-change in workforce productivity and process improvement is mobile, social and in the cloud ñ and it is available today.

-Ben Farrell, Director, Corporate Communications