3 Ways Even Small Cost & Time Efficiencies Mean Huge Savings
February 03, 2023 by Julie Breaux
Modern municipal processes require 360-degree workflow and data visibility, digital response and status immediacy, and collaboration across multiple contributors to match more complex community needs. As legacy systems fade into the past, cloud-based software streamlines the future. Public demand for new technologies and reduced on-premises hardware support make cloud-based solutions table stakes in public sector engagement and operations. After switching to an integrated permitting and licensing software, municipalities quickly discover that surprisingly small efficiency gains create enormous cost and time savings.
1. How Integrated, Cloud-Based Software Creates Efficiencies
Integrated, enterprise-wide permitting and licensing software shares and automates multiple processes across different departments, from initial application submission to permit and license approvals and issuance. A centralized platform dismantles departmental and data silos for concurrent plan reviews, comments, applicant corrections, inspections, submission history, and fee collection. Expanded data, stakeholder input, submission status, and next steps are visible to participants and applicants. This connected capability compounds the small savings in one minute or five minutes, resulting in hours redirected to essential projects and thousands of dollars reallocated to project budgets.
2. Incremental Time Savings in Staff's Daily Tasks Equal Huge Benefits
Government staff are the first to recognize redundancies and inefficiencies in their daily processes. Review coordinators, plan reviewers, and stakeholders involved in permitting and licensing activities uncover small task changes that benefit the municipality and the community. For example, plan reviewers in larger communities juggling 50 to 150 plan applications spend several minutes per submission, emailing comments or notifications to several departments and the applicant. Those five minutes across 50 plan reviews add up to hours spent on a tiny task.
Integrated software simplifies email communications down to the click of a button. Ashlee MacDonald, principal planner for the town of Gilbert, Arizona, said it best as she described the savings her local government found. "When you can start to use technology to just click a button and it notifies somebody else that it's their turn, and then they're in the customer's portal — it's not until you've gained those efficiencies that you realize the way we were doing it was so time consuming, and unnecessarily so. It's not the big things all the time; it's the little things that you do every hour that add up to significant efficiencies gained."
3. Real-Time Data and Communication Save Time and Questions
Previously scattered elements in planning and permitting processes are consolidated into one visible and intuitive collaboration with integrated software. Real-time data and communication capabilities decrease or eliminate the small, often unnoticed moments of walking to a colleague's office to ask a question or having to call an applicant for clarification on a submission. Asking questions and receiving answers without the delay of email responses or missed phone calls can give valuable time back to government staff. Ultimately, this opens bandwidth for other essential community projects.
In a recent webinar, Sal DiSanto offered a city planner's perspective on new efficiencies in the planning review process. "Things became easier on our end, and for the applicants as well. Many of the emails and correspondence and face-to-face conversations became more automated with our new system. Applicants were able to receive these automated messages at certain points within their review process, letting them know that their review had been completed, or if their Notice of Decision was now available. Those became automated messages through our customer portal... allowing the planners and some staff here to have some free time to put those few minutes to a different project."
Implementing cloud-based permitting and licensing software is worth the effort despite feeling resistant to change. Connecting various departments, agencies, and applicants simplifies and streamlines complex processes. The notable, often anticipated efficiencies combined with the unexpected savings make modernization the best change you can make.
In a recent webinar hosted by the American Planning Association, Embracing Technology to Gain Efficiencies in a Modern World, Tyler Technologies talked with IT experts from the town of Gilbert, Arizona, and the city of Raleigh, North Carolina, about embracing new technology to gain efficiencies.