Montana Department of Revenue Streamlines Operations
Industry: State Government
Location: Helena, Montana
Number of Employees: 295
Number of Years as a Tyler Client: 30+
Tyler Product Used: Orion Appraisal™, Orion Field Mobile™
As a department responsible for ensuring fair and equitable valuation and taxation of property in all 56 state counties, efficiency in operations is critical. Factor in budgetary constraints, satellite office closures, and expansive parcel distribution across rural areas, and you’ve got significant challenges when it comes to acting in the public’s best interest. The Montana Department of Revenue (DOR), Property Assessment Division was looking for an opportunity to streamline processes when it was presented with the state’s new digital transformation policy. A paperless initiative would require engagement in more responsibilities and tasks per appraiser, but would optimize workflow with fewer operating expenses and less reliance on paper.
Mobility, accuracy, and communication were also extremely important to the division. It employs about 170 appraisers across the state — every one with their own particular way of operating. Consider all these individuals traveling back and forth to a division office multiple times a day to acquire the appropriate property record cards and paperwork to get their jobs done.
And, that doesn’t even include the time needed to compile data, link images, and manage assessment records after they’ve returned from the field. Without access to the traditional office, the division would need a way to minimize effort, maximize productivity, and limit double data entry and wasted time for its valued appraisal staff.
The Montana DOR, a Tyler client for more than 30 years, noticed that in order to button up its operations, it needed more robust and efficient property management tools. The division needed a mobile data collection and appraisal solution for newly teleworking appraisers, and these appraisers would need critical functionality in a flexible solution at their fingertips. Although the division had tried another mobile appraisal system in the past, it was confident that assistance from Tyler was the way to go.
Dan Nelson, manager of the computer-assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) unit, agrees. Before implementing Orion Field Mobile, he knew something needed to change and fast.
With the office reductions, we needed a tool to streamline our operations, reduce our operating expenses, and increase the efficiencies, and with Orion Field Mobile, we can do that.
CAMA Unit Manager
As the division already employed the use of Tyler’s Orion appraisal and tax software in the offices, adding Orion Field Mobile was a no-brainer. In giving his appraisers the ability to access information and do more on-the-go — capabilities aligned with the digital transformation policy — the division’s new mobile tool was the modern addition the division needed to streamline operations. Dan recalled how, with the help of Tyler’s expert staff, a tailored rollout plan helped the division align processes while still maintaining a high level of productivity.
The division began the rollout plan in 2017. This tailored plan is divided into phases for an adoption with minimal challenges. In the first phase, the configuration phase, Dan’s team worked with Tyler to implement Field Mobile and to integrate an existing third-party sketch tool into a compatible framework that could be used in conjunction with Orion.
Because the software is capable of being tailored to the needs and goals of the organization, the rollout plan remained on track. The next phase, development, lasted a few months, and again required significant collaboration with Tyler’s expert staff to tailor the Field Mobile application specifically for the Montana appraisal environment.
Tyler has been easy to work with. They are able to customize our processes, and they’re always willing to help.
CAMA Unit Manager
The third phase of the operation entailed field testing and verification. Beginning in May of 2018, the division introduced Field Mobile to a small group of appraisers to gather feedback, analyze configurations, verify processes, and ultimately test the new tools. Approximately 25 appraisers tested Field Mobile app and verified all the development items.
Nelson pointed out, “We had a lot of people on the wait list who really wanted to get a tablet, and get on this Field Mobile project. They were seeing other users in their office and the efficiencies they were gaining.”
Finally, the operations moved to the fourth and final phase — implementation. The final milestone occurred when the division released the Orion Field Mobile application in the fall of 2018. Now, there are currently more than 30 appraisers with game-changing mobile capabilities, and Dan and team envision rolling out the solution to many more appraisers in a stepped manner.
“We haven’t even begun to realize all the benefits yet. We just went into production in November 2018, and we’ve had nothing but good responses from the appraisers out in the field using it,” said Nelson.
Orion Field Mobile allows Dan’s staff to capture, store, secure, and manage all property records, so the office closures are very minimally disruptive. The software eliminates the tracking down and organizing of maps, information, paperwork, and property record cards before an appraiser makes another site visit. The division has already begun eliminating wasted time — saving 10 to 30 minutes per parcel. Appraisers can access the property record information through the mobile app, take and and attach photos directly to the parcel, add sketches, and finally compile all critical information digitally without having to manually enter data multiple times.
Not only do the tools offer his team more access and flexibility, but they also allow the state’s appraisers to stand by their work.
“It gives them more confidence to be out in the field. They can go up and knock on doors to introduce themselves, let the taxpayer know why they’re there, and can explain all the data,” Nelson commented.
With the right tools, now the property assessment division can be sure it’s offering the public the most up-to-date, accurate information available.
Orion Field Mobile truly changes the game for Montana and the division. It eliminates wasted time, streamlines property assessment processes, and maintains productivity amid office closures and budget constraints — something any operation, big or small, can appreciate.
Learn How Orion Delivers Accuracy, Efficiency, and Mobility
Tyler’s Orion property appraisal and tax administration software has been an industry leader for more than 40 years by providing the advanced functionality to achieve the highest levels of accuracy, efficiency, mobility, and service. Orion software can eliminate many manual processes and streamline operations, resulting in:
- More accurate and efficient data collection
- Fewer wasted resources — such as paper, time, money, and gasoline
- Easier access to data in the office and out in the field
- Seamless tax billing and collections operations
- Continual improvement and training with Tyler’s EverGuide® initiative
Take the first step and contact us for a complete analysis of your office’s needs. By working together, we can find out which functions would be the most effective for your jurisdiction in the office and the field.