Accelerating and Sustaining EDO Success

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In another article, we discuss technology and operational challenges of Economic development organizations (EDO) and how our software solution, the Sikich Cloud Nine Economic DevelopmentTM for Dynamics 365 CRM, can help them better serve their communities. EDOs using the solution successfully drive economic health and spearhead welcome change. Below, you find an overview of some of the improvements they accomplish.

A solution that fits many different EDOs

Sikich has delivered the Economic Development Accelerator to a variety of EDOs—governmental departments, EDO business groups in utility companies, specialized single-purpose organizations, and informal and smaller teams within finance departments. The solution easily adjusts to organizational structures and workflows in various public sector as well as commercial entities. We hear from clients that the Economic Development Accelerator requires minimal everyday maintenance and flexibly accommodates organizational growth and changes. Solution upgrades delivered in the cloud are smooth and efficient. EDOs can easily onboard additional users and teams or integrate the Economic Development Accelerator with other software tools. Sikich solution architects configure the Economic Development Accelerator for individual EDOs when they initially deploy it, and EDO IT managers or our consultants can adjust it when roles, processes, and business rules change.

Advanced security in the government cloud

EDOs in governmental entities can deploy and run the Economic Development Accelerator on the Microsoft Azure government cloud, not the Azure infrastructure for commercial uses. They can then benefit from the advanced application security and data protection features Microsoft built for the government cloud, in addition to world-class, highly available hardware and physical data center infrastructures. Public-sector entities on Azure can draw on an arsenal of tools and resources to safeguard information, comply with regulatory measures for data privacy and data management, provide government employees with secure remote access, and safely collaborate and exchange information with other agencies and trusted parties. The government cloud can also detect and help prevent potential theft of data and funds, and other cybercrime.

More productive, fulfilling work

Some improvements resulting from a deployment of the Economic Development Accelerator will be visible to both IT teams and business users. For example, EDO team members find it easier to find information and can easily find their way around the solution’s intuitive, uncluttered design. They can work with just one source of all the information that matters and don’t need to tab from screen to screen. They can use a search function to get what they need instead of combing through files and emails. In many EDOs, these improvements greatly reduce the amount of requests for assistance as well as user distraction and frustration. At the same time, the high usability of the Economic Development Accelerator means that user challenges and help requests for IT are minimal compared to legacy systems or disparate information sources.

In an EDO’s everyday functioning, a reduction of the time everybody spends looking for information or navigating various software tools can help renew the focus on the mission and make it easier to engage with businesses and the community. Some EDO clients have described this as being like extending their team with additional staff. Many EDO employees mention the integration of the Economic Development Accelerator with Outlook and single sign-on to Microsoft resources as two of the most welcome features to help them work more efficiently.

My EDO knows me

The experience of businesses and communities with their local EDO changes when the EDO adopts the Economic Development Accelerator. For example, they can find greater coherence and continuity as they connect and communicate with different EDO team members, who can rely on the Economic Development Accelerator to keep all pertinent documentation, conversation notes, emails, and documents within a single click’s reach. Constituents don’t need to re-tell the story of their EDO engagement, and, when staff leaves and new people join, conversations and projects can continue without interruption. If constituents or team members have questions regarding programs, projects, applications, funding opportunities, or meeting proceedings and schedules, reliable answers are available without an enforced wait.

Facilitating lifetime engagements

The Economic Development Accelerator helps ensure external continuity as well. EDO employees can stay in touch with businesses if key people move on, and they can also accompany persons from one job to the next and continue to make EDO services available to them. The system maintains complete histories with all relevant documents and communications for both individuals and organizations. And, when EDO team members visit businesses and constituents on their home turf or at project and event locations, they can remain informed and resourceful, relying on the mobile capabilities of the Economic Development Accelerator to do their work. They don’t need to take notes which they subsequently have to enter into the system or ask constituents to wait for answers. Instead, they can have productive, pleasant conversations and move applications and projects forward.

New ways to deliver EDO value to constituents

By reviewing in the Economic Development Accelerator how businesses, nonprofits, and individuals in the community engage with their EDO, EDO employees can see what engagement journeys look like. They can assess which services and programs see community uptake, which are overlooked, and which might make sense for constituents given their specific situation. They can then give their services and programs greater visibility and proactively offer constituents opportunities they might not have been aware of.

Some EDO clients take a step further in delivering outstanding constituent experiences by asking Sikich to create a portal where the community can connect with the EDO to learn about programs, services, and events. When the Economic Development Accelerator integrates with other systems that contain constituent data, it can present that information by default instead of requiring it to be entered once more. We can also design portals to introduce EDO offerings that certain community members and businesses might be eligible for. In addition, some EDOs use portals to connect and collaborate with third-party service providers, contractors, and vendors, and manage these relationships within the Economic Development Accelerator.

Making progress visible

When EDOs want to assess their progress and demonstrate their successes to internal stakeholders and the community, they frequently rely on reports and dashboards we design for them with Microsoft Power BI. They use dashboards in presentations to elected officials and agency leadership and to share information and progress updates with grantors and donors. Some EDOs share dashboards on their websites to provide the community with realtime information, for example, regarding participation in their offerings, the equitability of their service and program delivery, or the geographical spread and voting district assignations of EDO clients, project sites, and leases.

What makes some EDO clients spectacularly successful?

Some Sikich EDO clients generate great outcomes from their use of the Economic Development Accelerator surprisingly quickly. What may make these EDOs different is a team culture where every voice matters and where everybody’s contribution is essential. They involve all team members in anticipating and welcoming beneficial change, defining their needs, identifying a solution, and testing its capabilities. By pooling ideas and talent, they can more easily and creatively expand the horizon of what’s possible for their organization. In addition, they are generally aiming to achieve improvements and results in certain areas, with clear priorities on what matters most.

At the same time, the most successful adopters of the Economic Development Accelerator usually maintain a healthy pace and avoid overloading people with new functionality. They may begin using the most important functionality of the Economic Development Accelerator and expand into more capabilities when the team is comfortable and curious about other possibilities. At that point, they may be ready to ask questions that didn’t occur to them earlier, and they may want to explore what Microsoft tools like Power Apps or Power Automate can help them accomplish in conjunction with the Economic Development Accelerator.

We follow the lead of EDO clients in our collaboration with them. Some prefer that we let them work on their own while others welcome collaboration. We always appreciate it when they challenge our ideas and help us do our best work, although both approaches can make perfect sense. We can re-engage whenever an EDO invites us. Often, we’re asked to contribute our expertise when EDOs want to integrate the Economic Development Accelerator with other software tools, expand it with additional Dynamics 365 functionality, or adjust it for changed processes and operating conditions.

Take the next step

To get your questions answered or go ahead with a solution deployment, you can:

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.


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