Written by: Stuart Foxman
For the people they serve, governments want accountability and transparency. The realities of bureaucracy mean decisions need input, review and signoffs from multiple stakeholders. That’s understandable, but the process consumes forests.
“There are complex approval chains in government that are totally locked in on paper,” says Jared Kolb, Director of Partnerships at Proof, and head of the firm’s Toronto office.
Why the continued reliance on paper processes? “A lot of inertia is built up in the system,” says Kolb.
That’s changing. As governments are embracing innovation, they’re looking towards service-as-a-software organizations to re-imagine their business operations. Proof (proofgov.com) is filling the urgent need to help governments go paperless.
Proof’s technology is designed for the approval process of government. The company’s intuitive web interface allows public servants and government officials to build and customize routings specific to their workflows.
Users attach documents on secure cloud servers, and can share, search and retrieve information across multiple locations and repositories. Proof's workflow management software provides automated audit trails, which include approval sequences, document revisions and timestamps.
Approvals can be signed at the click of a button. With Proof, e-signatures are legally binding and unique to each user.
Proof digitizes citizen-facing and internal forms to ensure information is collected and stored seamlessly. Requests from submitted forms can be assigned to team members, with the status of the forms easily tracked.
Kolb estimates that administrators using Proof save an average of one hour a day. For a 100-FTE department, Proof calculates a savings of $2.2 million in staff time. “When you multiply this out, there are serious savings in time and ultimately dollars,” says Kolb.
Proof aims to increase efficiency in government. Users can more closely monitor and prioritize approvals. Proof provides real-time analytics on workflows in all departments. Dashboards reveal the volume and flow of teams, which helps leaders to make decisions and improve processes.
“The data can be unlocked,” says Kolb. “Once we digitize these processes, we begin to understand where the bottlenecks are.”
Proof was co-founded by CEO Ben Sanders (based in Victoria), Chief Operating Officer Luke Decoste (based in Halifax), and Chief Technology Officer Wes George (based in Whitehorse). Between them, they have experiences in software and engineering, leading startups and working with various government bodies.
Proof did its first pilot with the Yukon government in 2018, and is now working with governments at all levels, from the City of Winnipeg, to Service Nova Scotia, to Transport Canada.
Kolb is excited to lead the Proof effort in Toronto. For one, there’s the market potential: “There’s an open posture towards our approach; we share a mind with many of the governments across Ontario.”
Beyond that interest, Kolb says “Toronto is Canada’s tech hub, and there’s an immense amount of talent in the Toronto startup community.”
Proof was part of the 2019 class of the Techstars Toronto Accelerator, whose goal is to help entrepreneurs succeed through access to mentorship, talent and tech support.
“That culminated in a successful fundraising round, which enabled us to expand our team,” says Kolb.
As Proof grows, it continues to help governments keep an eye on processes, to see where things are moving through the system or falling behind. “Our goal,” says Kolb, “is to make government better.”
Photo credit: Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real