by Brian Nordli
April 23, 2019

Take a peek behind the software and tools CityBase builds for city governments, and you’ll find the experiences of everyone reflected in its code and design.

That people-first approach fuels everything CityBase does. Whether it’s developing a short-term loan application during the government shutdown or building kiosks to make it easier for all citizens to pay their bills, every solution is designed to make life easier for the people using it.

We spoke with three implementation team members about how they partner with cities to build the tech that places people first.

 

citybase chicago
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Brown
citybase offices
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Brown
citybase logo
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Brown

 

FOUNDED: 2014

EMPLOYEES: 70 total

WHAT THEY DO: CityBase is a government technology company that works with local governments, agencies, and utilities to integrate payment functionality, business processes, and communications onto a central, cloud-based platform that consumers can access through the web, mobile, kiosk or point-of-sale.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago

THE PERKS: Employees receive unlimited PTO and have a flexible work from home schedule.

IDEAL CANDIDATE: CityBase looks for candidates who check their ego at the door and come prepared to listen — to the user, the client and their coworkers — in order to build a solution that works for everyone.

 

citybase implementation

Erin Jancic, VP of Implementation

 

Erin Jancic, VP of Operations

Erin serves as the operational lead for CityBase. As part of her role, she leads the implementation team, which is responsible for working with clients and other teams to ensure a cohesive CityBase experience for the client and their end users.  

BEYOND WORK: Every month, Erin tries to read one fiction and nonfiction book. Her recent reading recommendations include “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup,” and “An American Marriage.”

 

In the time you’ve been at CityBase, you’ve been promoted from a director level. Do you feel that your internal growth is indicative of the growth that happens for others at CityBase?

CityBase is continually growing and pursuing new opportunities, and because of this, people are constantly learning new skills and have opportunities to step up. Sometimes a new opportunity for the company will present a new organizational need and internal team members can step into that role. Other times, a new role is created for them to fill a need.

 

CityBase’s technology has the ability to touch the lives of everyday citizens. What challenge or project gets you most excited?

Even though we serve utility companies, local governments and state governments, we are seeing how much overlap there is among those verticals and within our products. The challenge comes in understanding how to consolidate our technology and streamline our delivery so we can make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.

We’re building tools that let our clients consolidate their back-office operations for all payments, whether it’s made with cash at a kiosk or online using a recurring payment. We’ve found that the process to reconcile those funds is consistent regardless of client or payment type, and we are excited to provide a robust solution that can help everyone.

 

The challenge comes in understanding how to consolidate our technology and streamline our delivery so we can make the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time.”

 

How has your team worked with clients to come up with those solutions?

In January, we were in San Francisco doing some long-term planning during the government shutdown. During one of our meetings, we learned that the city was considering offering some short-term loans for impacted federal workers. Within 24 hours, our banking, product, marketing and engagement teams banded together to configure a loan application, agree on the rollout with the city, and presented options for managing the money movement for loans. We also continued our planning sessions with the city in the meantime.

 

citybase chicago

Matt Johnson, Lead Solutions Engineer

 

Matt Johnson, Lead Solutions Engineer

Matt is CityBase’s Swiss Army knife. He works with a team of solutions engineers who draw on a variety of skills to analyze third-party APIs and integrate them with CityBase’s technology. Much of Matt’s work is focused on payment processing and understanding the rules and regulations required for processing credit and electronic check transactions.

BEYOND WORK: You’ll find Matt between the goal posts at Johnny’s Ice House playing goalie for his recreation league hockey team.

 

You started as an intern and now you're a lead engineer. What kinds of growth have you seen in yourself, as well as at CityBase, in the time you’ve worked there?

I started at CityBase in June 2015. I’ve seen it grow from just a dozen people to the rapid growth we’re seeing now. There are always a number of challenges you run into along the way, but tackling those challenges head-on and coming up with creative solutions have helped me grow. It’s given me a lot of experience that I don’t think I would have received at a larger organization.

 

What’s something you did, as an intern or full-time team member, that reflects the kind of culture CityBase has developed?

When I was an intern, I helped respond to requests for proposals. One proposal I submitted resulted in a client engagement for CityBase. A few months later, once I came on as a full-time employee, I ended up being the project manager who helped implement the solution for that new client. I was able to participate in the process from sales all the way to implementation. It shows CityBase’s willingness to grow team members, building their career even as they move to different roles.

 

[My experience] shows CityBase’s willingness to grow team members, building their career even as they move to different roles.”

 

What solutions are you helping to engineer for governments?

I’m involved in projects focusing on payment processing for credit card and electronic check transactions — so, I am responsible for understanding the rules and regulations of taking a card or eCheck and processing that payment. Last year, we implemented payments for the City and County of San Francisco, where I was heavily involved in bringing them onto the CityBase platform.

 

citybase careers

Nadia Bajwa, Product Manager

 

Nadia Bajwa, Product Manager

Nadia serves as the subject matter expert for customers on CityBase’s case management product. She works closely with every team to gather the encyclopedic knowledge necessary to answer any question or challenge a customer might have using CityBase’s product.   

BEYOND WORK: Nadia’s passion for art and travel go hand in hand. She loves camping out in a foreign outpost and creating art that depicts her Pakistani background, passion for science and interest in feminism.  

 

CityBase is a mission-driven company, working to help government be more effective. How do you feel like you personally are making a change for the better?

We’re working with San Francisco’s Cannabis Equity Program to help get their cannabis business permitting application process off the ground. This has been such a politically-charged subject area that has disproportionately impacted people of color who have been incarcerated for non-violent crimes, and it’s important to me to be able to contribute solutions that address this.

 

You work closely with CityBase’s clients. What kind of interactions do you have and how does that shape the product?

We have a number of touchpoints with clients. They range from close partnerships to contextual interviews to feedback surveys and support requests. For one client, we went to their offices, observed how they solve for permits and recorded a wish list and a series of frustrations they felt with the current process. We used that information to inform our solution to their problem.

Instead of going public immediately with our product updates, we’ve asked super-users to participate in a closed beta. We will be collecting data from participants throughout this process via in-person interviews and surveys. All the features that we’ve built have been validated by our users. For our case management feature, we had ten users test it before we even started to build anything.

 

For one client, we went to their offices, observed how they solve for permits and recorded a wish list and a series of frustrations they felt with the current process. We used that information to inform our solution to their problem.” 

 

Tell us about a project your team has developed. What impact has it had on a client you’ve worked with?

Initially, the product I worked on was more of a form-builder and workflow automation tool. We’re now developing it into a case management tool. Instead of only supporting linear processes, we can facilitate more complex stages in the workflow and promote collaboration across different agencies. Users can create a narrative around a single applicant and facilitate multi-step interactions between government agencies and constituents.

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