New Connections in Kansas City

May 27, 2020 by Meredith Trimble

Overcoming the Challenges of Legacy Systems

New Connections in Kansas City

As is common in many cities, legacy technology systems purchased by and for individual departments can pile up, creating redundancy of work and other costly inefficiencies. Employees navigating such systems have to wade through multiple offices and gatekeepers to find needed information. The public, too, is hampered by confusing, multi-step processes to conduct business with the city.

In Kansas City, Missouri, officials dealt with four legacy permitting systems serving nine city departments with limited cross-departmental cooperation or data sharing. “It was clear to us that connecting these siloed departments could enhance productivity throughout the city by eliminating redundancy in agency processes,” noted Assistant City Manager, Rick Usher. “In addition, we knew that new connections would enhance customer experience by providing all necessary information in one place.”

Compass KC

To achieve these desired results, the city implemented new civic services software that integrates departments to streamline processes for all stakeholders, internal and external. The resulting platform, Compass KC, links city departments to provide a one-stop shop for city services for residents and businesses, covering permits, plans, and payments. The benefit of data sharing and automation was immediate, as new efficiencies created newfound staff time. This allowed the city to redirect staff efforts away from repetitive, manual processes toward enforcement and compliance.

Initial departments involved in the new system’s implementation were Aviation, City Planning and Development, Finance, Fire Prevention, Health, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, Regulated Industries, and Water Services. A top-down, bottom-up approach to the new system’s implementation ensured that all involved staff could provide input and shape the project’s success.

New Online Access

With these nine departments working together, the city consolidated permit application, review, inspection, and fee payments. The initial benefits included:

  • Eliminating process redundancies
  • Increasing trust between departments
  • Eliminating the need to check other departments’ work

These efficiencies saved the city money and sped up application turnaround time for customers. Residents who once had to go to multiple city departments to obtain permit application items, for example, can now conduct business online at their convenience. In the program’s first 18 months, more than 5,300 users registered to use the self-service portal. Its biggest draw is its ease of use, and residents are eager to encourage others to take advantage of the intuitive access to online services.

“The convenience of online access and the range of city services that can be utilized is something all local governments should be interested in bringing to their customers and residents,” said Usher.

This innovation earned Kansas City a 2020 Tyler Excellence Award. View other Excellence Award winners.

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