Modern Technology for a Smooth Online Transformation
- Population: 281,200
- Location: Gilbert Arizona
- Tyler Solutions Used: Enterprise Permitting & Licensing (Community Development & Business Management), Citizen Self Service, eReviews, IG Workforce, Decision Engine, and Executive Insights
The administration in the Town of Gilbert, Arizona is devoted to serving citizens and businesses well, and part of that effort includes using state-of-the-art technology in public-facing city operations, like the permitting process. This dedication proved more beneficial than the town could have imagined when they began developing solutions in 2017; making leeway for steady implementation through 2021, following the impact of the pandemic.
How Software Helped Gilbert Smoothly Navigate a Global Pandemic
The global impact of the pandemic caused every government and business entity to rethink ways to remain effective, safe, and efficient. The Town of Gilbert was no different. As paper applications and submittals continued to roll in from all parts of the country, physical offices were totally shut down. Therefore, the need for electronic plan review and online submittals increased; making way for Enterprise Permitting & Licensing from Tyler Technologies to create efficiency for the end-to-end permitting process. “We had to become more flexible and more agile and just be able to meet our customers where they were instead of having them come to us,” Tracey Asher, administrative assistant and subject matter expert for the Development Services Department in Gilbert, said.
Asher went on to share that “we found people were using any available means to do an online submittal, even if it was incorrect. So, planning was consistently getting building permit submittals and vice versa, but that helped us decide to implement eReviews when we set up our online submittals. That way we could decide the correct application type versus letting it remain in the hands of the applicants.” This digitization helped the town maintain smooth operations even during the shutdown.
Electronic Plan Reviews & Bluebeam
The Town of Gilbert began using Enterprise Permitting & Licensing in 2017 and implemented the eReviews module in 2021, testing often to ensure success. The town also expanded upon its efforts to meet customer needs by adding virtual council meetings, planning commission meetings, and pre-application meetings to its offering.
Before eReviews, Gilbert had a clunky, manual process for reviews that required bringing in a CD or a flash drive. This system was not ideal due to potential cybersecurity risks. Asher explains, “Now, those manual tasks no longer exist, and the review process is more transparent.” This cuts down on communication issues that existed between all the reviewing departments.
Now that the electronic plan reviews capability is in place, “Our applicants really love the fact that they can submit online... especially since here at the town, we are only open Monday through Thursday,” shared Asher.
Another facet of Gilbert’s modernization is the use of eReviews with Bluebeam, a markup and collaboration tool that is used by architects, engineers and contractors throughout the lifecycle of a building project. Its integration within the software includes color coding for reviewing departments, allowing for toolbox customizations that make it easy for both applicants and reviewers to pinpoint and manage commentary. Now, Gilbert’s administration no longer has to email comments or use Dropbox. Applicants can go directly to the Enterprise Permitting & Licensing Civic Access web portal to review comments.
Gilbert’s selection of eReviews for Enterprise Permitting & Licensing proved timelier and more beneficial than the town could have anticipated, offering the right amount of flexibility for operating remotely.
The only time an applicant really has to step foot into our facility is if there’s a Planning Commission meeting or a Town Council hearing, which really saves them money, and definitely travel time. And it’s really saved, everyone.
Administrative Assistant and Subject Matter Expert, Development Service Department, Gilbert Arizona
Why Implementation and Training Make All the Difference
Much of Gilbert’s success with eReviews can be attributed to the town’s dedication during implementation. Asher stated, “We tried to set up online applications for a good three years, but the process had stalled. Then the pandemic hit. So, with the help of the Tyler’s Assist program, we were able to have all the planning applications online and through the review process in about three months.” She went on to share, “We went from stalled to everything available online and flowing smoothly, which was amazing. It really made our town leaders very happy.”
Recognizing the value of these new software solutions to both internal staff and citizens, Gilbert took the initiative to create videos to guide their users into becoming more comfortable with their review process. This not only made their user experience significantly better, but it cut down the number of phone calls the Town of Gilbert receives. Asher attested to this fact as she shared, “A bit more training and grunt work on the front end, just smoothed out the process once it went live.”
Outcomes and Outlook
The Town of Gilbert faced the challenges brought on by the pandemic and emerged from the trials stronger than before. By realizing Enterprise Permitting & Licensingrelated benefits including those gained from its use of eReviews and Bluebeam, the permitting and planning procedures converted into a modernized and integrated electronic review process solution.