Identify Needs and Implement Solutions
- Tyler Client Since: 2015
- Number of Employees: 2,800+
- Population: 703,000+
- Location: Illinois
- Tyler Products/Solutions: EnerGov, Digital Health Department, iasWorld
- 25 percent of simple planning, building, and development permit applications submitted online
- 50 percent of temporary food permit applications submitted online
- $4,500+ saved per replaced device
Lake County, Illinois, located between Wisconsin and Chicago, with Lake Michigan to the east, is made up of more water than land. The Great Lake, more than 100 inland lakes and rivers, hundreds of miles of streams, and thousands of acres of wetlands leave around 500 square miles for the county’s more than 703,000 citizens. But Lake County certainly makes good use of the space it has, providing homes for rural, urban, and suburban communities as well as plenty of accommodations for tourists.
Lake County’s government knows the value of its diverse community and does everything it can to provide “good government” to its citizens. The county makes efforts to extend that transparency to other governments as well, opening their internal systems up to be accessed by participating users from various municipalities within the county.
“We do our best to assure that Lake County is a beacon of transparency in the state of Illinois,” said Lawrence Mackey, deputy director of the Health Department.
“We’re interested in good government, in doing things the right way,” added Matthew Meyers, deputy director of Planning, Building, and Development.
Providing Good Government
Part of Lake County’s focus on good government can be seen in the way it’s always evaluating processes to ensure optimal performance. The county is systematic in its approach to finding and implementing new software and further enhances its effectiveness by sharing lessons learned with peers. Lake County also puts a strong focus on efficiency and, as a result, benefits from using multiple Tyler Technologies products at once.
Lake County uses EnerGov™, Tyler’s community development and regulatory software, and is in the process of implementing Tyler’s iasWorld® to replace its current property tax & CAMA system. Lake County also runs Tyler’s software solution for environmental health alongside EnerGov.
While Lake County partners with Tyler for multiple software needs, its story centers around EnerGov.
“We went live [with EnerGov] on March 27, 2017, on time and under budget,” said Meyers.
Implementing EnerGov saved the county tens of thousands of dollars in the first year and quickly increased the number of permit applications submitted online from very few to a significant portion. The county’s decision proved beneficial for its government and citizens alike, thanks to careful evaluation and planning prior to jumping in.
Lake County constructed a Central Permit Facility in 2010, which brought three of its six permitting departments, previously scattered across the county, together under one roof. This new facility neighbors a building that houses two of the other departments, forming a permitting campus in the heart of Lake County.
While bringing these departments closer together was a start, it wasn’t enough to truly integrate the permitting processes. So, the departments instituted a project management-based approach to permitting. Individual departments no longer reviewed only single aspects of development projects, housed records in siloed data systems, and then passed applicants along to the next department. Instead, applications that involved multiple county departments were assigned a project manager as a single point of contact.
Again, while this new process was a huge step in the right direction, it wasn’t enough to truly streamline permitting. The permitting departments still had 13 non-integrated legacy permitting systems and various other tools involved in the integrated process.
“While this integration effort was well received by the county’s customers and staff,” said Meyers, “it lacked an enterprise software solution to maximize consolidation, cross-department integration, and efficiency. The thing that we were missing was the system.”
Specifically, the county needed an enterprise software system that would:
- Meet its permitting, planning, licensing, inspection, and code enforcement needs;
- Enhance internal and external communication;
- Compliment the county’s existing food program software and document management system;
- Allow online applications and payments;
- Provide enterprise-wide regulatory workflows and processes.
This need led to the county’s implementation of EnerGov.
Lake County went on the hunt for a solution to facilitate a fully integrated permitting process to improve customer service externally and make the most efficient use of resources internally. To find the needed solution, the county formed a team of representatives from each permitting department to serve as subject matter experts and decision makers.
“We completed a full county assessment of our land development and management needs, and then we used that assessment to develop our RFP, and we selected Tyler through the RFP process,” said Meyers.
Seeing the Benefits
Following successful implementation and thorough training, Lake County now uses EnerGov and its various components (like Citizen Self Service and mobile applications) to increase efficiencies, enhance customer service, and save taxpayer dollars. EnerGov Assist (Tyler’s software administration service that provides access to Tyler staff, training, and best practices) helps with administration and configuration, and the system as a whole gives Lake County the information availability architecture needed to improve communication with other county departments and local government partners.
The enterprise system has provided several benefits to the county such as connecting departments, receiving permit applications online, saving paper, and decreasing equipment costs.
“If a customer applies at the Central Permit Facility,” said Meyers, “we can take in the applications for any other department as we are all using the same system. We don’t need to have somebody apply at multiple locations for multiple permits and have two different staff members work on the same application. The system allows us to be a one-stop-shop.”
“Also,” added Mackey, “we take a project management approach to development projects, so a person can manage a project over at public works, which is in a separate building, but we’re all in the same system, so they can manage all the associated permits with that project from that location.”
Receiving Permit Applications Online
The county has already seen a significant increase in the number of applications applied for online.
Meyers said, “Over the course of this first year, about 25 percent of our planning, building, and development permit applications that we made available online are coming in that way, which is a big deal for us. People aren’t having to come from the far reaches of the county to our office and apply.”
Mackey added, “We issue about between 1,000-1,200 temporary food permits…toward the end of the season, almost 50 percent of those have come in to our office online.”
Partly because of the efficiencies gained through EnerGov, the county has not had to fill all the positions left open when employees move on.
“The system allows us to have those discussions regarding the replacement of positions because of gained efficiencies,” said Mackey.
“The county realized a savings of over $300,000 by not filling some support positions this year, and EnerGov was a factor in that,” added Meyers.
“Our offices have been mainly paper-based because we’ve previously had to rely on separate systems. Online applications and other opportunities to work digitally through EnerGov has already saved us paper,” said Meyers.
Decreasing Equipment Costs
The county had expensive ruggedized laptops, specialized devices, digital cameras, and car docking stations for its inspection teams. EnerGov allowed Lake County to trade in all that equipment for affordable iPads®, which saved more than $4,500 per replaced device.
“Maintaining that more conventional equipment was very expensive, where [these laptops] are costing us anywhere from five to six thousand dollars apiece. As soon as we got EnerGov…we were able to switch all over to iPads, which we can purchase for a couple hundred dollars each,” said Meyers. “So that innovation was an immediate cost savings as soon as EnerGov went live.”
Paying It Forward
In the months following go-live, Lake County has served as a resource to other potential EnerGov users, providing input on its experience with Tyler and advising peers on how to enhance their implementations. The county is a leader in good government and innovation and has experienced staff that can mentor its local government peers in the areas of business processes and software implementation.
“We’ve had people that have helped us along the way, and we’re very much interested in helping others out as well,” said Mackey.
“From a funding standpoint,” said Meyers, “we recognize the challenges that municipalities have…so, we look for opportunities to help where we can, where it can be a mutual benefit as well, sharing services across municipalities. Tyler has helped us with this through the way we drafted our contract with shared services language…we’re going to start working with these communities on getting them access to EnerGov, access to a state-of-the-art system. We can work together and connect through that system, and it’s going to make things easier. It’s going to bring us a lot of efficiencies. It’s presenting us with a lot of opportunities to change and be more efficient in our work. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we’re committed to good government, making good decisions, and being as efficient as possible.”
Lake County is a great example of a good government — a local government that is successful, transparent, and connected. The county uses multiple software products and services in conjunction, has insightful awareness of gaps in processes, takes a careful and structured approach to determining the best solutions for its needs, has found wide-reaching success during and after software implementations, and is determined to share that success with its peers. Lake County is paving the way for transparency and connectivity in the name of good government and the hopes of causing a ripple effect that impacts other jurisdictions.