Aligning County Processes With Mission
Location: Fort Pierce, Florida
Tyler Solutions: EnerGov, Tyler Cashiering
EnerGov Users: 100
St. Lucie County, off Florida’s southern east coast, is the quintessential representation of everything that comes to mind when thinking of Florida. The streets are lined with palm trees, beachgoers, and stunning views in every direction. White sands and blue waters stretch for miles. However, the landscape alone is not enough to make St. Lucie County a great place to live and work. For a county to truly thrive, it needs a well-run government working diligently behind the scenes, and St. Lucie County is fortunate to have just that.
The mission of St. Lucie County is to provide the services, infrastructure, and leadership its citizens and businesses need to keep the community safe and sustainable, ensure a high quality of life, and protect the natural environment. Embedded in the county’s mission are focuses on increasing access and transparency, utilizing spatial information to enhance economic development, mapping workflows and processes, and leveraging mobile capabilities.
How Tyler Technologies’ Solutions Align With St. Lucie County’s Mission
To better align its processes with its mission, St. Lucie County knew it needed a fully integrated permitting system backed by GIS with a citizen-facing front-end. The county is interested in increasing access and transparency for citizens, contractors, and businesses as well as using spatial information to enhance future land development and the utilization of county resources.
St. Lucie County’s leadership went through a request for qualification process to identify a system that would meet their needs. The county ultimately decided on Tyler Technologies’ EnerGov™ software in December 2018.
EnerGov is a comprehensive civic services solution designed for enterprise workflow and process regulation. From planning, permitting, and licensing to asset management and citizen requests, EnerGov uses GIS to automate and connect critical processes, streamline workflow, improve communication, and increase productivity.
We wanted to move toward an integrated system that would allow for online review by all our partners. The Tyler EnerGov solution had the kind of integration [we needed].
Director of Planning and Development Services
At present, the communication between St. Lucie County’s departments and stakeholders is not always as efficient as it could be. By implementing EnerGov, St. Lucie County will create a workflow that unifies all permitting and developmentrelated bodies under one umbrella. Also, as the county is geographically widespread, utilizing a solution like EnerGov will give field workers the ability to operate without Wi-Fi or cellular service.
The unification and accessibility St. Lucie County will experience with EnerGov will provide better visibility and coordination across the enterprise, making the county more productive and efficient, a major goal for its government. St. Lucie County’s other expectations for go-live are to be able to digitize and automate many of its current paper-based efforts and increase its transparency.
Current Permitting Processes
Currently, St. Lucie County relies on an effective yet cumbersome homegrown system for permit and plan review tracking. When paper permits are submitted at the front desk, permitting technicians manually enter the information in the existing system. Some over-the-counter permit types can be submitted via email to make things more efficient for customers, but the permit types that can be submitted that way are limited, no payment integration exists, and permitting techs must still manually enter the information. Additionally, while plan reviewers enter their comments in this homegrown system, the actual plan reviews do not integrate.
“You have the plans in one place on paper, and then you have the comments in another place, digitally,” said Olson. “That’s the problem for tracking, storage, and efficiency. It’s a problem for site plan review, and it’s a problem for transparency with our public, who would like to have easier access to those documents.”
The integration and transparency St. Lucie County will experience with EnerGov are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value it’s sure to gain. St. Lucie County will now be able to offer completely paperless permitting to its citizens and staff, including online payments, which will save time and effort across the board. Also, with the ability to store plans and plan reviews in the same system and make that information accessible externally, everyone will be more informed about developments in the county.
Benefits of Implementing EnerGov
While St. Lucie County has many expectations for the value it hopes EnerGov will provide, one benefit it has already experienced from preparing for the Tyler conversion is the mapping of its application-type processes.
We have mapped 156 different processes that we currently do here, not only in planning and development services, but also environmental resources, engineering, stormwater, and property acquisition.
Director of Planning and Development Services
She went on to explain that as a result of performing this mapping, the county realized the full extent of where different departments’ processes overlap.
“We’ll be integrating not just planning and development services processes,” explained Olson, “but multiple processes … to make sure the entire county’s application processes are integrated. As a result of doing this mapping … we have already identified new efficiencies that will save our staff time and allow our customers to receive their fully completed and compliant applications more quickly.”
The commitment Olson’s staff has shown to the system before it has even gone live is a true testament to their faith in the benefits the county will reap post-implementation.
Additionally, St. Lucie County currently has a goal to review 90 percent of all plans within 21 calendar days. This means they’re aiming for a three-week turnaround on providing comments to customers. Anything the county can do to shorten that timeline will result in more customer satisfaction as well as higher volumes of completed permit requests, which leads to more revenue for the county and the ability to show ROI for its EnerGov investment. Because of the customer-facing portion of that ROI, citizens will know the county is investing in solutions to enhance the community as a whole, which will strengthen community government relations in St. Lucie County as well.
“We’re hitting that goal,” said Olson, “but it’s a difficult goal for us to reach with our staffing level and paper-based process. Our next goal, once we’re hitting this one, will be 14 days.”
Olson expects EnerGov to help the county’s staff hit that new 14-day threshold with ease.
Full Internal Support
Often, because of the drastic changes to existing processes, software implementations can be hard on staff and management can be met with pushback. This is not the case in St. Lucie County, however.
We chose Tyler not because it was the cheapest, but because we thought it was the best. As a result, our staff is really excited about the possibility. We actually just had a building official retire who helped us choose the Tyler system. One of his regrets about retirement is that he couldn’t see it implemented. We really have a team that’s on board with this, and they’re ready to work, as is evidenced by the fact they just mapped 150 processes.
Director of Planning and Development Services
To further strengthen that internal support, St. Lucie County plans to make any and all necessary training available to its staff so they’re fully prepared when go-live comes.
“We are going to make available whatever resources are needed for our staff to ensure the system is properly implemented and our staff understands how to use this system before we go live,” said Olson.
Why St. Lucie County Believes in EnerGov
St. Lucie County is excited about everything it’ll be able to offer its citizens once EnerGov goes live. Olson knows the county will be more transparent, efficient, and easier to work with once its systems are updated.
“You can upload your site plans and your building permits from home,” she explained, “and pay for them from home and see where your inspections are scheduled from home. We do that currently … but it will all be integrated now, and you’ll be able to find all that information in one place.”
St. Lucie County understands how the progression of technology is shaping society’s expectations and it knows EnerGov will help it keep up with its citizens’ needs.
“[Citizens] expect a system that is integrated and easy to use,” Olson said. “They expect to be able to pull up a map … click on a parcel, and know what’s going on there, and that’s what the system does. It can create heatmaps for commissioners that tell us where we’re having code enforcement problems … You can do the same thing with development applications … to know where the hotspots are for development. People expect to be able to receive that from their governments now, and we’re very excited we’ll be able to deliver it.”
Olson added, “This Tyler investment is no small change for us … This is a real sacrifice for us … We had to decide to not do other things in order to do this … This transparency and this efficiency is really, really important to the county, and so we have the support of our policy makers and our administration. I’m really looking forward to getting to work, to rolling up our sleeves.”