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Software is a High Priority for Local Governments in the Next Year – With 1 Caveat

Will local governments be investing in new software next year?  1,199 senior local government officials rate their priorities for eight key departments in this proprietary new research by Power Almanac, and our research partner CivicPulse.

The Critical Finding

  • Adopting new software is a near-term, high priority for local governments, but with one caveat.

More specifically, 74% of IT chiefs and 61% of top appointed executives (e.g. city managers) rated at least one area of their government as a high priority for adopting new software within a year.

One important implication for local government marketers – don’t be shy about casting a broader net when reaching out to local governments. Maybe more than ever, senior officials understand the importance of software.

The 1 Caveat

The 1 caveat is that most officials believe that new software should be adopted selectively – in specific areas within their government – and not across the board.

We know that because only about a quarter of IT Chiefs and Top Appointed Officials (27% and 24% respectively) believe that most departments need new software.

Local Governments’ Highest Priorities for Software Investment

The priority placed on new software investments varies considerably by area of government.  The percentage of officials (across all positions) rating new software for each area as a high or medium priority is summarized below, sorted by highest to lowest priority order.   The two highest priority areas for new software investment:  law enforcement and citizen communications/engagement.

It’s worth noting that in all eight departments a significant majority of respondents consider new software to be at least a moderate priority, an encouraging sign for govtech companies in light of data from the National League of Cities that 74% of cities have made unavoidable budget cuts this year, and 61% are delaying or cancelling equipment purchases.

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The Power of Positive Experience

One of the most powerful predictors of a local government’s positive disposition towards new software investment is a recent positive experience with acquiring new software.   (NOTE – for more data and insights about the recent impact of software on local governments, read our prior post from this research:  Software Impact on Local Government.)

Officials in local governments with a positive experience in the past 3 years were far more likely to place a high priority on new software investments than those with a bad or no experience, as noted in the chart below.

Action implications:

  • Local governments that have provided positive testimonials for other software companies (perhaps on vendor websites or in online forums) should be considered attractive targets for new offerings.
  • Companies with software for multiple departments may want to increase cross-selling efforts.
  • Vendors focused on just one or a few departments may benefit from marketing partnerships with non-competing vendors serving other departments.

Comments from survey respondents illustrate the divide.

Positive experience

  • “Technology has improved so much recently. We just upgraded and the information readily available by reports is a big improvement.”  (Head of Financial Administration)
  • “The right software has made great difference in our workplace.” (Head of Public Works)

Negative experience

  • “When a vendor does not provide proper support, it is difficult to utilize the software and recommend investing in software to anyone.” (Head pf Human Resources)
  • “More times than not new software makes officers’ jobs more difficult because the software does not perform as advertised.“ (Head of Law Enforcement)

Take Aways

Local governments consider investments in new software over the next year to be a high priority. But, perhaps in part due to budget constraints, are being highly selective about software priorities.

Software for law enforcement and citizen communications and engagement are likely to experience the greatest interest.

Governments who have a positive experience with a recent software purchase are far more likely to invest in new software.

Remember software purchases are team decisions, so consider casting a wide net in your sales and marketing efforts. Target not only IT departments, but department heads, top appointed executives, and other senior officials to develop as many champions for your solutions as possible.

Subscribe & Follow

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing more insights from this first-of-its-kind proprietary research, including:

  • What are officials’ most important purchase criteria
  • Local government obstacles to purchasing new software
  • How local government officials learn about new software (one is a MUST know)

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To learn more about our research partner CivicPulse or the survey methodology and sample, check out our software research appendix.

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