MyBizColorado: Building a one-stop destination to launch new Colorado businesses

About Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA)

SIPA is a self-funded government organization that serves as the oversight body of the Colorado.gov portal. SIPA's vision is to transform Colorado government service delivery, such as MyBizColorado, through the use of technology.

Industries: Government & Public Sector
Location: United States

About Modern Codecraft and Colorado Interactive

Modern Codecraft is a Colorado-based software development and consulting services provider and Google Cloud Partner with deep experience developing on Google Cloud Platform.

Colorado Interactive builds, operates, maintains, and markets Colorado.gov, the official website of the State of Colorado. Overseen by SIPA, Colorado Interactive is part of eGovernment firm NIC.

Developed and hosted on Google Cloud Platform, MyBizColorado provides a single path for new businesses to interact with multiple state agencies, cutting red tape and expediting the start-up process.

Google Cloud Results

  • Reduces paper-based filings up to 40% by providing a 2x faster, more efficient way to register a business
  • Improves the experience for citizens, decreasing initial session abandonment by roughly 20% and phone calls to state agencies by 10% to 20%
  • Reduces state administrative costs and citizen transportation costs by providing a self-service, paperless process
  • Modernizes registration process by supporting mobile access via tablets and smartphones
  • Opens up new opportunities for job creation, economic growth, and tax revenue

Same-day, online business registrations

Every year, small businesses create 30,000 to 40,000 new jobs in Colorado. They employ nearly half of the state's workforce, or approximately 1 million people. Making it easy for people to start new businesses is therefore a priority for the state. Until recently, however, opening a business meant standing in line at several state agencies and usually took multiple days.

Although Colorado had an online registration platform in place called Colorado Business Express, its decade-old technology was slow, cumbersome, and not available for mobile platforms. The site used complex terminology and was difficult for everyday users to navigate. If people made a mistake, they had to start over from the beginning. Session abandonment rates were high, indicating that people often became confused or frustrated with the process and decided that standing in line would be a better option. Those who didn't abandon their session usually called state agencies for help. Even successful online submissions often required state employees to perform some manual data entry.

The Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA) recognized the need to provide Coloradans with a more modern and efficient way to register a business and obtain state licenses and registrations. With executive support from the Colorado Lieutenant Governor's Office, SIPA partnered with Colorado Interactive, the entity that operates and maintains the Colorado.gov website, to build a new filing website called MyBizColorado.

"Our vision was for the average small business owner to be able to get through the registration process in a reasonable amount of time and have a positive experience opening their business in Colorado from day one," says Jack Arrowsmith, Executive Director of SIPA.

"Google Cloud provided the perfect platform for orchestrating all the interactions that are critical to providing a comprehensive solution. Given the varied backgrounds and missions of the project's stakeholders, Google Cloud provided the common language to facilitate communication and quickly achieve a common understanding of the technical goals."

Martin Hartley, Director, Portal Operations, Colorado Interactive

Creating a better experience for citizens

Based on a recommendation from the Colorado Governor's Office of Information Technology, SIPA and Colorado Interactive decided to build MyBizColorado on Google Cloud Platform. The two organizations also brought in a third company, Modern Codecraft, which had completed a similar project for the State of Wyoming and brought extensive user experience (UX) design expertise.

"Google Cloud provided the perfect platform for orchestrating all the interactions that are critical to providing a comprehensive solution," says Martin Hartley, Director, Portal Operations at Colorado Interactive. "Given the varied backgrounds and missions of the project's stakeholders, Google Cloud provided the common language to facilitate communication and quickly achieve a common understanding of the technical goals."

"Developing MyBizColorado on Google Cloud Platform allowed us to move very quickly without sacrificing scalability or world-class security."

Josh Morris, Founder, Modern Codecraft

The team developed the web application on App Engine, a fully managed, serverless platform, and stores data in Cloud Storage and Cloud SQL databases. With zero server management and zero configuration deployments, App Engine allowed developers to focus on coding and building a high-quality web app without the management overhead. To stay nimble and react quickly to changes and insights gleaned from user testing, they utilized the agile development style.

"Developing MyBizColorado on Google Cloud Platform allowed us to move very quickly without sacrificing scalability or world-class security," says Josh Morris, Founder, Modern Codecraft. "It was like being a little kid sitting on dad's shoulders to reach the ceiling, and we had a bunch of technical Legos to play with."

The teams created a tailored, intuitive user experience, using casual, easily understood language throughout the application. Mike DeJonge, Director of User Experience and Design at Modern Codecraft, talked to a wide variety of business owners and conducted incremental follow-up surveys to help ensure that MyBizColorado would meet their needs. As user testing progressed, developers simply added code to App Engine, with no worries about the underlying infrastructure.

"I talked to financial planners, cabin rentals, a cleaning business, a staging business, a piano teacher, a software developer, and a karate studio," says Mike. "Everyone was happy with how easy MyBizColorado is to use, and I don't think we would have been as successful without Google Cloud Platform."

"Hosting MyBizColorado on Google Cloud gives us a great deal of flexibility to help new businesses get started. We're confident that any business, from a food truck to a multimillion-dollar corporation, will feel comfortable registering their Colorado business online. The number of completed forms has increased to between 30 percent and 40 percent."

Jack Arrowsmith, Executive Director, Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority

Accelerating business registration

Using MyBizColorado, local businesses can plan and coordinate their interactions with the Secretary of State's Office (SOS) for business registrations and trade names, the Department of Revenue (DOR) for sales tax licenses, wage withholding, and account creation, and the Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) for unemployment insurance account arrangements.

The website also points registrants toward other resources that may be helpful, such as local business development resources or how to obtain professional licenses. MyBizColorado offers a Spanish language option, which the old platform lacked, and supports mobile access via tablets and smartphones. Users can log in to the highly secure site using their Google, Facebook, or Twitter credentials, saving them an extra step. It takes the average user approximately half of the time to complete an application in MyBizColorado compared to the legacy system, saving the citizens of Colorado hundreds of hours a month.

"Hosting MyBizColorado on Google Cloud Platform gives us a great deal of flexibility to help new businesses get started," says Jack Arrowsmith. "We're confident that any business, from a food truck to a multimillion-dollar corporation, will feel comfortable registering their Colorado business online. The number of completed forms has increased to between 30 percent and 40 percent."

With a vastly improved experience over Colorado's old registration site, most MyBizColorado users complete their business registration the same day. If they need to pause the session, they can come back later and continue where they left off. Initial session abandonment rates have decreased by roughly 20 percent, reducing the overall number of paper filings by up to 40 percent.

Phone calls to state agencies have decreased by 10 percent to 20 percent, saving hundreds of hours a year for state employees and reducing administrative costs for the state by providing a self-service, paperless process. Online sales tax filings have increased by more than 45 percent, streamlining revenue collection, while up to 165 applications a week that previously required manual modification after online submission are now automatically populated within the state's tax system of record.

Improving usability with smart analytics

Modern Codecraft designed MyBizColorado to interact with G Suite apps such as Drive and Sheets. Historically, CDLE kept records of all of its applications as PDF files on a local database. By leveraging Google Drive instead, the agency created a cloud-based repository for all applications. This new format improves security by adding an authentication requirement which allows only pre-approved users to gain access. Furthermore, by hosting the application archive on Drive, the applications are now searchable, which allows CDLE to find applications not only by number, but also by the applicant's name, address, or other information.

The team also uses Google Analytics to analyze site traffic and pinpoint areas where people might be having trouble in the registration process. By identifying the questions on which people are getting stuck, developers can re-word or re-order them to move businesses through the process faster.

"Google offered us the most comprehensive capabilities to do analytics as we move forward," says Jack. "That's critical as we continually strive to improve the user experience for MyBizColorado."

Opening many doors for business

Colorado expects usage of MyBizColorado to increase dramatically over the next few years, eventually accounting for the majority of the 100,000 new businesses created in the state annually. By making it easier for businesses to get started in Colorado, the state is opening up new opportunities for job creation, economic growth, and tax revenue. When MyBizColorado went live, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper announced the website in an official press release and promotional video.

"It really is gratifying to bring so many different entities to the table and use Google Cloud to help change the way the citizens of Colorado interact with government," says Jack. "MyBizColorado has been well received at all levels, from elected officials to business owners."

About Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA)

SIPA is a self-funded government organization that serves as the oversight body of the Colorado.gov portal. SIPA's vision is to transform Colorado government service delivery, such as MyBizColorado, through the use of technology.

Industries: Government & Public Sector
Location: United States

About Modern Codecraft and Colorado Interactive

Modern Codecraft is a Colorado-based software development and consulting services provider and Google Cloud Partner with deep experience developing on Google Cloud Platform.

Colorado Interactive builds, operates, maintains, and markets Colorado.gov, the official website of the State of Colorado. Overseen by SIPA, Colorado Interactive is part of eGovernment firm NIC.

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