Online Permitting & Licensing Client Wins 2019 NACo Award

The National Association of Counties (NACo) sponsors a yearly Achievement Awards Program aimed at recognizing county governments throughout the country for innovative programs across 18 categories. These programs must offer new or gap-filling services to citizens, improve existing programs, enhance employee working conditions or training, increase citizen involvement or understanding, be helpful to public policy making, or encourage intergovernmental problem-solving. They must creatively and innovatively go above and beyond requirements and common practices produce measurable results, and align with acceptable governmental standards.

Tyler Technologies is proud to announce New Hanover County, North Carolina, received the 2019 Achievement Award in Community and Economic Development for its implementation of Enterprise Permitting & Licensing (powered by EnerGov), our comprehensive community development solution.

New Hanover went live with Enterprise Permitting & Licensing ahead of schedule and under budget, despite facing a natural disaster, thanks to the county’s systematic approach to implementation. Enterprise Permitting & Licensing Civic Access, the citizen portal, was adopted by more than 1,600 users in the first month and a half, and three quarters of permit applications are now coming in online. But the real win was how New Hanover made garnering citizen and customer buy-in part of the software selection process; leveraged those stakeholders throughout implementation, configuration, and launch; and are still involving them in processes moving forward.

Seven other Enerterprise Permitting & Licensing clients join New Hanover County in this achievement including Charleston County, South Carolina; Chester County, Pennsylvania; Los Angeles County, California; Loudoun County, Virginia; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Oakland County, Michigan; and Wake County, North Carolina. New Hanover County also won NACo Achievement Awards in the Children and Youth; Civic Education and Public Information; County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy, & Sustainability; Health; and Risk and Emergency Management categories.

New Hanover’s Winning Program for Community and Economic Development

When it came to permitting and inspections, New Hanover County was struggling to align disjointed processes, causing a lack of project insight for both the county and its citizens. When the county’s legacy permitting system was retired by the vendor, New Hanover jumped at the chance to implement a system that would help align processes throughout the organization and put the customer at the heart of its efforts. This opportunity and the way New Hanover County rose to the challenge led to the program that won the prestigious NACo Achievement Award.

New Hanover County’s winning program stood out amongst the applicants because of its innovative goal to put the focus on the customer and its creative approach in doing so. The county decided to include the development community in requests for proposals (RFPs) and RFP responses, vendor demonstrations, final selection, and system configuration. Developers weren’t the only constituents New Hanover County aimed to please, however. Representatives from every county department that interacted with land development (five total) were included in the same processes, as was an executive sponsor from the county manager’s office and stakeholders from outside agencies like the local utility authority and city planning and zoning officials.

This team of subject matter experts worked together to identify their collective needs and narrow down the pool of software solutions that could meet them. They decided Enterprise Permitting & Licensing was the best system to meet the county and citizens’ needs in early 2017. They used an iterative, agile approach to govern implementation masterfully, and the system went live in February 2019, less than two years after selection, despite operational setbacks due to Hurricane Florence.

This speedy implementation helped the county come in under budget due to hours saved, and the new system enabled New Hanover to more transparently and efficiently process plan reviews, permits, and inspections. The county used Enterprise Permitting & Licensing to merge the regulatory and business requirements of diverse departments into a single platform supported by a robust customer service portal.

In the end, we have provided a new way of delivering GIS services that enables many features within the new system. We have provided streamlined mobile apps for our field staff to perform inspections, and our plan reviews have become entirely paperless in the back office. Most importantly, our customers are able to complete almost all of their interactions with us online.

Elizabeth Schrader

Chief Strategy Officer

In the first six weeks following go-live, New Hanover County had more than 1,600 users create accounts on its instance of Civic Access, which the county has branded as COAST, or Customer Online Access Services Tool. More than 75 percent of permit applications are now coming in through this portal, which allows staff to review the applications faster and allows customers to receive permits without having to come to the office in person.

“For the first time ever, all the various agency reviews are being done in a single place, off of a single set of plans, with a common set of comments and required corrections,” said Schrader. “No more calling around to various departments and agencies to find out where a review is stuck.”

The governance team is now focusing on continuous improvement of this already successful program, including creating a dashboard that allows leadership to view analytics from the new system.

The structure New Hanover County established that led to the selection of Enterprise Permitting & Licensing and recognition from NACo — establishing a team of subject matter experts, putting the focus on the customer, and taking an intentional and iterative approach to implementation — will be used as a model for how the county implements other new systems going forward, and is a great model for any local government to follow.

Case Study Highlights

  • National recognition for innovation in community development
  • Entirely paperless back office plan reviews
  • More than 75% of permit applications submitted online
  • System implementation in record time and under budget

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