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It has been over four years since GSA announced that it was the first federal agency to successfully migrate its employees to a cloud-based email service using Google Apps for Government. One promised benefit to cloud computing, aside from the obvious cost savings, is Improved Productivity. Google says that it will “help you and your team work faster and smarter by making it easier for everyone – employees, partners, vendors, anyone – to collaborate effortlessly across teams, locations and agencies.” Who could argue with better collaboration, and better communication? But specifically which business processes will change as a result of increased productivity? How about these three?

Currently many government agencies solicit services and products from the private sector though online marketplaces or acquisition portals. Documents are loaded for contractors to download and view – everything from widgets to management consulting services. That process is so 1995. Wouldn’t it be great to post solicitations on a shared Google Drive? Updates to the solicitation could be made real-time. Questions could be answered about the solicitation in real-time.

Consider also that many contractors submit their bids or responses via email to the contracting officer or worse yet by delivering multiple printed copies to an administrative assistant. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to allow contractors to submit their responses through Google drive allowing the government evaluation team to view, respond, and evaluate each proposal real-time?

Public Commentary
At all levels of government, local, state and federal, proposed legislation, proposed statutes, etc. are submitted and posted for public comment. Could you imagine a time when these documents are posted onto a shared drive for public comment? This would allow constituents to view each other’s comments, understand the concerns of their peers, and respond accordingly. It would also allow government agencies to potentially respond to comments as they are posted, clarify concerns quicker and reduce the overall response period.

Project Management
The biggest potential impact of greater collaboration could be realized within project management. Real-time dashboards to leadership and the project team could be made readily available. No more Microsoft Project files sent back and forth via email. Project plans could be managed through Google applications. Even project artifacts (requirement documents, development plans, test plans, etc.) could be generated, maintained, and reviewed from within the collaboration site. Online forms could even be created to support stage gate or management review processes.

Implementing these ideas doesn’t have to be an either-or proposition. Government agencies can experiment with these revised processes to assess viability, security, and effectiveness while still employing the current methods.

So if government agencies are willing to try and willing to be innovative, they may just achieve the productivity gains as well as the costs savings promised by cloud solutions.