While people often say “the cloud” when referring to most
software applications accessed through the Internet, Software as a Service
(SaaS) is still a term you’ll hear a lot. SaaS refers specifically to software
offered over the Internet as a service to you. But there is still a lot of
confusion about SaaS and why it’s an improvement over previous software
Traditionally, purchasing software has been a cumbersome
process. It involved an expensive upfront cost to buy servers and software
licenses that dictated how many users could install and use the software. Your
IT staff and software vendor helped install the new server (or servers) and
installed the software on each person’s computer.
Then, the real fun began. Ongoing server maintenance involved
software vendor support costs combined with IT staff or an IT vendor helping you
manage those servers, apply software updates and patches, and help users with
any issues. Many cities then find that their expensive software becomes
outdated after about 3-5 years unless the vendor aggressively updates it on an
ongoing basis. And those updates cost more money. Upselling is not uncommon as
software vendors rapidly turn out new products to which they suggest you upgrade.
It seems like you’re always dishing out upfront costs, unpredictably.
If it sounds like we’re making the old software delivery
model sound bad, our analysis is supported by the advantages of SaaS and trends
showing where technology is going. Software vendors have mostly switched to
offering SaaS models for nearly all important software and SaaS sales are already
in the billions every year. Those sales are expected to keep increasing.
So what led to SaaS rising to such prominence when it seems
like yesterday that buying onsite servers was the way to go? Here’s what
With such financial and quality benefits over traditional
software delivery models, SaaS has emerged as a clear winner for most businesses.
However, there are a few drawbacks that still linger around SaaS.
Even though there are a few negatives, most cities,
government entities, and other organizations have mostly agreed that those
risks and exceptions become more isolated and rare as time goes on. SaaS
becomes extremely compelling when cities realize they can eliminate capital
expenses, get rid of hardware, reduce overall costs, lessen the amount of IT
staff or vendor time dedicated to software support, and know that the vendor
will provide software updates along the way as part of the monthly fee.
In the 2010s, SaaS has truly evolved into a revolutionary
technology and has become part of the technology landscape for business and
government. The federal government has even passed legislation to push
government entities into moving to SaaS. If you still struggle with using traditional
software, it’s time to take a look at SaaS options to help save your city
To talk more about SaaS, please contact us.
Sophicity is excited to announce that we are now providing IT in
a Box to cities through our new municipal league partnership with Arkansas. We officially announced our partnership and answered questions for
cities when we participated in the most recent Arkansas Municipal League (AML)
Winter Conference on January 31. Arkansas cities were excited to talk about
their technology needs, and we look forward to helping those cities with a
complete IT solution that’s custom priced affordably for them.
Below, you’ll find the official announcement from AML’s
Executive Director, Don Zimmerman.
I am excited to announce that the Arkansas Municipal League
is now offering a new service aimed at providing cities with state-of-the-art
information technology tools supported by experienced, highly skilled IT
professionals. The service is called “IT in a Box” and it’s being offered
through a contract with Sophicity. For one monthly all-inclusive fee, a city
will receive a website, data backup and offsite data storage, email, document
management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server and desktop management,
vendor management and helpdesk support seven days a week.
The city of Yellville was the first to join the service in
Arkansas! Currently, there are several cities speaking with Sophicity and are
expected to come aboard very soon. To learn more about the service, please
click on the link below to the League website.
For additional information, please contact one of the
Chris Hartley at 501-978-6106 or email@example.com
Whitnee Bullerwell 501-978-6105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Weaver at 770-670-6940, ext. 115 or email@example.com
Nathan Eisner at 770-670-6940, ext. 103 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Director, Arkansas Municipal League
One thing that often prevents regular data backups from
occurring at cities is simply the inefficiency of it all. Using external hard
drives or tape usually means someone is manually backing up data, carrying it
to a secure location, and storing it for future use in case of disaster. If
you’re using an online data backup program, it could mean managing servers,
running memory-hogging backup programs, and spending time ensuring that an
entire backup has completed without issues.
If you identify with these struggles, then you may have an
opportunity to make your data backup much more efficient. Many advances in data
backup technology, especially in the last five years, have made data backup a
much more seamless and quick process. The best data backup solutions are so
efficient you almost don’t notice them.
So, how do you get there? Here are some tips on evaluating
the inefficiency of your current data backup process and considering a more
Even though we work with the latest technologies on a
day-to-day basis, we’re even amazed at how far data backup has come in just a
few years. Transitioning from bulky servers and physical media to the Internet,
we’ve seen a clear shift to cloud data backup, unlimited data storage, and data
restored in minutes or hours—not days or weeks. You might think these kinds of
solutions are cost-prohibitive compared to your external hard drives, tapes, or
servers, but you may actually be wasting money with your older solution compared
to more modern data backup. It’s worth taking this checklist, examining your
current data backup situation, and considering some other solutions.
To talk more about data backup, please contact us.
Recently, an alarming cybersecurity report from the U.S. Senate highlighted some disturbing security breaches at
three major agencies: the Department of Homeland Security, the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, and the IRS.
A few quotes from the report included:
When hackers are trying to steal government data on a daily
basis, these kinds of weaknesses are simply unacceptable. While these agencies
get more scrutiny than local government, they highlight the importance of
implementing basic cybersecurity protections that are actually quite simple and
Here’s what you can learn from this report to make sure that
your city is ahead of the game—and doing a better job than our federal
government at protecting its most sensitive information.
Sadly, many of the federal government’s IT problems are
easily preventable. The good news for you is that cities can follow the steps
above to create a great foundation for cybersecurity. While there is more work
to do beyond what’s listed above, by focusing on policies around passwords, IT
maintenance, antivirus, physical security, and devices, you’ll eliminate a lot
of easy security holes that hackers can exploit.
To talk about cybersecurity in more detail, please contact us.
When cleaning out your house, you’ve probably experienced the
shock of realizing you’ve acquired way more stuff than you thought. After staying
in one place for a while, it’s tough to go through your attic, garage, shed,
basement, or other storage areas to decide what to keep and what to throw out.
However, it’s quite a relief when you finally throw out a lot of unneeded
things and free up space.
Information technology works similarly. Over time, technology
objects pile up and lead to excess servers, desktops, laptops, network
equipment, and software. Each city department may accrue excess technology, and
that multiplies the extent of the problem. When it comes time to assess your technology,
you might be surprised or shocked to find a bunch of useless or redundant
equipment and software.
That’s because IT assessment and consolidation is always an
ongoing process for any business or organization. From our experiences
consolidating many city IT environments, we’ve provided some tips in case
you’re about to tackle this kind of initiative. When you’re consolidating,
always ask, “What are my city’s business goals? And how is a particular
technology investment helping me achieve those goals?”
While assessing your technology can involve a lot of upfront
time, the benefits are worth it. Like cleaning your house, you’ll free up space
and get rid of unnecessary junk. More importantly, your city stands to reduce
costs, gain a lot of efficiency, and simplify your IT management. Once you
consolidate, plan to reevaluate your technology assets at least once a year to
see if any new or improved hardware and software may help you with further
consolidation. IT consolidation is an ongoing process, and you’re always
fighting against inertia, time, and technology innovations.
To talk more about IT consolidation, please contact us.
A recent article from Microsoft points out that technology alone
cannot improve your IT security. You need informed, participating end users—your
city employees. When they are informed about security policies through proper
communication and training, the true power of your IT security blossoms.
However, this article overrates the trickle-down effect of
communicating security policies to employees. Don’t get us wrong. Establishing
security policies are absolutely important and provide a great way to detail
all important aspects of a security strategy for your city. But ask an employee
about the last time they read or looked at a security policy.
We find that a great way to tie security policy to employees
is by illustrating tactical, everyday scenarios that often place a city at
risk. Through these everyday scenarios, you can discuss IT security policy in a
way that relates to everyone.
By sharing everyday tangible security examples with
employees, you will be able to connect normally abstract security policy to
their day-to-day jobs. After all, it’s in these specific scenarios that most
security breaches occur. The biggest breach in the last few years (in South
Carolina) happened when an employee clicked on an email. Weak passwords have
allowed hackers to publicly expose sensitive information. And we hear stories about
stolen laptops every so often, with those stolen laptops containing social
security numbers and other publically identifiable information. When employees
hear these kinds of examples, it’s more visceral—making your security policy
more likely to stick in their minds.
To talk about IT security in more detail, please contact us.
You probably recall times when you’ve had to manage documents
through email. Most of the time, you’re trying to figure out who has the
document, who already provided feedback, and who hasn’t reviewed or approved it
yet. It’s like herding cats, and you expend more effort managing the document
workflow than you do actually creating or reviewing the document.
In a document management system, you have the ability to set
up workflows that force people to follow a series of tasks. From document
creation to review to approval, workflows help you focus on the work—not
managing the workflow. While there are some technical aspects to setting up a
workflow (and some workflows at large organizations can be extremely complicated),
most smaller cities will have relatively simple workflows that help manage
Here are some tips to help you think about how you create
workflows. As you can see, these are mostly business decisions, not technical
With a strong document management workflow, you increase the
morale of city employees and make it much easier for them to do their work.
Managing documents through email or document management systems without a clear
process increases stress, errors, duplicate work, and frustration. If your city
is especially working toward greater transparency, document management workflow
is a small but important step to clarifying how documents are created,
reviewed, approved, archived, and deleted.
To talk about document management workflow in more detail, please contact us.
Back in the 1980s, Judge Wapner used to open up each case on The People’s Court by
saying, “I know you've been sworn, and I have read your complaint.” The popular
show, still running to this day (unfortunately without Judge Wapner), gave
people a surface understanding of the workings of a municipal court—albeit
with all of the tedious parts edited out. People often see the legal system as
obscure and mysterious, and it helps when an entertaining show shines some
light on how it works.
However, when citizens have to actually go to municipal court
for whatever reason, the process is often just the opposite. People get
confused, worried, and tripped up over what to do, where to show up, and how a certain
legal process works. While court can be a hassle, you can make it less of a
hassle by providing clear, useful information on your website.
Since people usually don’t voluntarily plan to go to court,
they will often come to your website on a mission and probably not in the best
mood. What greets them when they’re looking for information? The following tips
will help you make this website visit as pleasant as possible for your citizens
or those needing to use your court system.
Additionally, when applying the tips above, it’s tempting to
provide reams of legal information. After all, it’s a court and it deals with
law. While accurate and thorough, legal language is intimidating to most
people. You can provide it as extra detailed information, but make sure you
don’t bury your most helpful information in legalese. It will only frustrate
and confuse people visiting your site.
Municipal courts ultimately reduce all legal situations to
simple processes—what to do, where to show up, and how to resolve the issue.
Your website is an extension of that simplification and, with the right
content, provides a great public service to your citizens. Then, citizens won’t
mind getting sworn in, and having their complaint read.
To discuss your municipal court website content in more
detail, please contact us.
KLC helps city stabilize data backup and disaster recovery,
better respond to open record requests, and delegate all IT
support to experienced professionals.
Residing in the beautiful northeastern Kentucky mountains
within the Daniel Boone National Forest, Morehead is a city of
almost 7,000 people approximately 70 miles east of Lexington.
It’s also home to Morehead State University, ranked as a top
public school in the south, and Cave Run Lake, an 8,270-acre
reservoir that attracts many recreational enthusiasts.
Like many smaller cities throughout the United States, a small
dedicated staff oversees many of the day-to-day operations.
That means everyone, including the mayor, is hands on
helping citizens. But as information technology becomes more
complicated in its variety, requirements, and integration with
legal aspects of local government, it can be overwhelming to add
its hassles to an already overburdened staff workload.
For many years, the mayor and city staff handled any technology
needs and requirements for their city. That meant setting up
their own computers and calling software, Internet, telecom, and
hardware vendors for support requests. Not surprisingly, this
essential work can get overlooked and even shelved when day-to-day tasks take over.
This frantic scramble to keep up with technology was a symptom
of deeper problems. Without a dedicated person to focus
on technology, the city also had uncertainty related to the
reliability of its data backup, a compromised ability to respond to
e-discovery or open records requests from using an email service
that was difficult to support, and no website to communicate
However, the potential high cost of hiring IT staff and upgrading
the city’s technology prevented Morehead from moving forward.
Morehead solved these challenges by using KLC’s “IT in a Box”
service. Powered by Sophicity, “IT in a Box” is a complete IT
solution for cities and local governments. The service includes a
website, online payments, onsite data backup, unlimited offsite
storage of backups, email, document management, Microsoft
Office for desktops, server, desktop, and mobile management,
vendor management and a 7-day a week helpdesk.
“IT in a Box” helped Morehead:
We now have a level of security unimagined
beforehand with constant monitoring and
reliable offsite backups. I worry much less with
the Sophicity team watching things for the City
of Morehead. – Mayor David Perkins
Print-friendly version of the Morehead, Kentucky IT in a Box case study.
Sophicity is an IT services and consulting company providing technology solutions to
city governments and municipal leagues. Among the services Sophicity delivers in “IT
in a Box” are a website, online payments, onsite data backup, unlimited offsite storage
of data backups, email, document management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server,
desktop, and mobile management, vendor management and a seven-day a week
helpdesk. Read more about IT in a Box.
While larger cities benefit from having procurement offices
to spend time researching, selecting, and negotiating with vendors, smaller
cities can feel at a disadvantage when procuring items—especially technology
products and services. And even procurement directors can have trouble keeping
up with the latest hardware, software, and technology solutions.
Despite the overwhelming technical aspects of technology
procurement, we’ve found through our experience that there are some basic tips
that help cities get the best bang for their buck. Even if you’re not a
technical expert, these tips can help you better prepare when you’re ready to
invest in technology.
Technology purchases can be quite expensive and complex.
That’s why it helps to follow the steps above to make sure you’re vetting each
purchase rigorously and appropriately. With many city revenue streams in a
precarious state, you want to make sure you’re investing in the right
technology responsibly. You don’t want to become so paralyzed with fear that
you don’t buy anything, but you need to have the right guidance and expertise
on hand to help you step boldly forward in your investments that will help
achieve your city’s vision and business goals.
To talk more about technology purchasing, please contact us.
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