Free Upgrades and Eliminating Machines

 

Onslow County covers more than 700 square miles on the North Carolina coast. The county is home to a diverse community of more than 186,000 citizens, including more than 43,000 service members housed on U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

The county is growing rapidly. Having efficient processes and powerful systems in place is extremely important due to the high volume of information the county is responsible for and the internal users, external customers, and government reporting agencies who need access to it. Because of the large military community, Onslow County faces an additional challenge of requiring data to be available on demand to almost anyone, anywhere. The system Onslow County’s Planning and Development department was operating simply wasn’t meeting the needs of the growing community, lacking in areas such as:

  • Efficiency
  • Flexibility
  • User friendliness
  • Affordable upgrades
  • Digital document storage
  • Citizen transparency
  • Cross-departmental integration
  • Online availability
  • Dependable customer service
  • Ability to adapt procedures, reports, and workflows in-house
  • Available server space

Missing the Mark

One of Onslow County’s 1,200 employees is Chanda Tobin, systems coordinator for planning and development, who explained the shortcomings with the county’s existing system.

“It wasn’t flexible enough for us. Any change that we needed to make was very costly. We always had to get outside resources to help modify the software,” said Tobin.

She went on to detail how server usage and expensive upgrades were challenges as well.

“We relied on a complex system managing eight virtual machines and committing a high volume of server space just to support daily operations,” she said, adding, “With our [existing] product, it was very costly to upgrade…At one point, we were in the middle of doing an upgrade…which was going to cost about $30,000, and we got almost to the end, and our software program…didn’t have a piece that we needed to make the upgrade. So that was very frustrating to have to backpedal and try to sort out what we needed to make the whole process complete.”

Time for a Change

Onslow County client spotlight

Onslow County has been using Tyler Technologies’ ERP solution, Munis®, since 2007, and has since been adding Tyler products to its software collection, like iasWorld® for appraisal and tax and Tyler Content Manager for records and document management. In September 2016, Onslow County once again partnered with Tyler, choosing EnerGov, Tyler’s community development and infrastructure software, to replace its current permitting system.

The county worked alongside the EnerGov team to adapt the software to meet its unique needs, including integrating the processes of seven separate departments while addressing the concerns of internal and external stakeholders alike.

“With guidance from the EnerGov team, we created flowcharts and drew paths the way we envisioned things could work, and from there, we had departments architect the process as desired, and then EnerGov made them a reality,” said Tobin.

The Benefits of Replacing the Existing System

EnerGov filled the gaps left by Onslow County’s previous system, meeting its needs in spades. Tobin spoke to each concern addressed:

  • Efficiency
    Onslow County is pleased with the way EnerGov has streamlined efforts and saved time, specifically with permit processing.
    “Permit information formerly processed over a two-week timespan is easily updated within minutes, which has saved our staff hours of manual processes,” explained Tobin.
  • Flexibility
    One great benefit Onslow County has seen from EnerGov is the ability to continuously adapt the product, making the need to re-invest in new technology unlikely. This is great news for the county, because as Tobin explained, fewer software shifts mean fewer hours spent training staff on new products and an increased ability to respond to changing government regulations on demand.
  • User friendliness
    The county has received positive feedback from staff and citizens alike. Tobin said citizens have expressed how easy it is to navigate through EnerGov Citizen Self Service and find the information they’re looking for.
  • Affordable upgrades
    With its previous system, Onslow County’s upgrades were costly and difficult. With EnerGov and Tyler’s evergreen philosophy, Tobin said, “It’s been great to be able to put in the request and receive the upgrade and not have to pay additional expenses. You get the latest improvements. We’ve been through two upgrades already and they’ve gone very smoothly.”
  • Digital document storage
    EnerGov has a built-in ability to store documents, which saves physical space as well as time because permitting technicians can load information directly into the system.
  • Citizen transparency
    EnerGov Citizen Self Service is a citizen-facing portal Onslow County uses to provide transparent information to the public. Tobin said the county is also transitioning to services that allow customers to help themselves 24/7.
  • Cross-departmental integration
    Onslow County has seven separate departments that actively use EnerGov. The county worked with Tyler to customize the software to meet the varied needs of those departments, and Tobin said the county is excited about the progress it’s made as an organization through that customization, particularly the internal siloes that have been broken down thanks to EnerGov connecting the county’s departments to each other.
  • Online availability
    One of the biggest hurdles Onslow County was facing with its previous system was that the county hosted it on-premise, which was resource-intensive and made maintenance problematic. Tobin said,
    “When we made the choice with EnerGov, we were able to become web-based. We were able to take eight virtual machines and combine them, and we didn’t need them anymore, so it worked out well for us choosing the online version.”
  • Dependable customer service
    Tobin also explained how nice it is to have EnerGov’s support team at her disposal for any issues she can’t resolve herself. She said the team is able to provide feedback and that support through constantly evolving processes gives her peace of mind.
  • Ability to adapt procedures, reports, and workflows in-house
    Onslow County, like many counties, needs to be able to adapt internal processes to continue increasing efficiency and productivity, which is an ability EnerGov is able to provide. “We really embraced being able to modify the workflow as we went along. That was a great asset of the software. We knew that if we decided on a naming convention, for example…later down the line if it did change with our state regulations, we could go back and modify the information and it wouldn’t necessarily break our workflow,” said Tobin.
  • Available server space
    Tobin said EnerGov has also saved Onslow County a tremendous amount of storage space on its servers.

The benefits of moving from the previous system to EnerGov reached even farther than the county anticipated. EnerGov has provided Onslow County with advanced reporting and business analytics; increased organization, communication, and productivity; and more.

Sharing Benefits with Private Organizations

“Since going live with EnerGov,” said Tobin, “we have provided training to many realtor organizations in our community to help bridge the gap in technology advancements. This has reduced thousands of inquiries to our office and increased performance for these organizations.”

Tobin explained that she works with the GIS director to organize meetings with these realtor organizations to demo how EnerGov CSS and GIS capabilities put the information the realtors need at their fingertips while connecting them with their government for a more efficient process. Each two- to three-hour session with these organizations covers GIS upgrades; tools offered; and how to locate information on permits, documents, building information, parcels, addresses, and more in the public-facing EnerGov CSS system. This reduces the amount of phone calls the county receives requesting documents related to septic and building permits, which was previously 30-45 per day!

She added, “EnerGov has allowed us to demonstrate success in reducing costs while maintaining high-quality technology advancements.”

Onslow County hopes its transition from a system that hindered its efficiency and productivity to EnerGov, which integrates with its other systems and increases its effectiveness, inspires other communities to improve as well. The county encourages open dialog and camaraderie between organizations to exchange valuable solutions and ideas. Onslow County, North Carolina, sets an excellent example of what it means to build a connected community.

Case Study Highlights

  • Saved ~$30,000 per upgrade
  • Eliminated 8 virtual machines
  • Shortened permit processing times and inquiries

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