Unlocking Development Data
- Tyler Client Since: 2017
- Number of Employees: 1,400
- Population: Approx. 200,000
- Location: Texas
- Tyler Products Used: EnerGov™
McKinney, Texas, is much more than a Dallas suburb. Its historic downtown square, often referred to as the city’s “crown jewel,” boasts an abundance of eclectic local shops and restaurants that surround the original courthouse, creating a unique blend of sophistication and traditional charm. And, McKinney’s thriving festival scene — from Oktoberfest to the annual Arts in Bloom celebration featuring 120+ juried artists — draws in crowds from across the state.
Yet, while downtown McKinney is bustling today, much of its growth is recent. The same can be said for the city’s population and overall development. In a span of 30 years, McKinney’s population has increased ten-fold, radically transforming city services and magnifying the city’s responsibility to the community.
Embracing Digital Workflows
McKinney leaders understood that to manage its immense growth and maintain high service, they’d need to transition away from paper-based workflows to a truly integrated land management software. The city found that solution in EnerGov™, Tyler’s comprehensive civic services technology. McKinney went live with EnerGov in 2017, virtualizing its community development processes from start to finish.
“On the surface, a transition to all-digital workflows would allow us to become more efficient, flexible, and transparent. It would also allow us to accept and review development submittals digitally, thus reducing processing wait times and eliminating the physical storage of paper plans,” said Business Systems Specialist Samantha Pickett. As an example of the efficiency achieved, the city decreased its turnaround times for residential single-family permits from approximately 20 days to four.
But McKinney’s plans for EnerGov quickly went far beyond digitizing development. “On a deeper level, the city realized that an all-digital workflow could allow for greater freedom to interact with our data in entirely new ways. This would allow us to provide more valuable resources and services to the community,” said Pickett.
To meet this goal, McKinney’s Development Services Division formed a small team, called Strategic Services, to focus on new ways to use the collected data. “Our whole purpose is to give data to the rest of Development Services and find new ways to provide data to the public as a whole,” explained Development Services Manager Brandon Opiela.
Initially, the strategic services team just planned to automate the manual reporting they were already doing. However, they soon realized they could leverage the sophisticated data elements and open architecture that EnerGov offers to move far past the Microsoft® Excel-based reporting the city had relied on for years.
“The team has been built to draw things out of EnerGov that we could have never known with paper plans … data points that would have been manual to do … and now we’ve got unlimited data,” stated Opiela.
The team transformed the EnerGov data and was able to extend valuable insights for both internal and external (constituent) users. And, by partnering with the city’s GIS infrastructure, they can map out this information into digestible, public-facing spatial representations.
“Our dashboards provide the ability to both view work within the city at a global scale or effortlessly pivot to drill down for specific details based on location,” noted Pickett.
Empowering Staff to Create Efficient, Predictable Processes
One of the key benefits to McKinney’s data initiative is staff empowerment. “Everyone has access to the same data and can make informed decisions that directly impact their own work,” said Pickett. “Our managers love being able to spot and respond to work surges, monitor opportunities for coaching, and having the data to critically examine where our workflows could evolve,” Pickett continued.
Development staff can now access the average time it takes to complete a given workflow, not only for a window of time, but also by person, location, or district with the city. This has allowed Development Services to reassess workflow steps and imagine simpler, more streamlined permitting processes.
And by improving workflows, McKinney has established more efficient, predictable turnaround times for its customers. “Predictability for the development community is critical to attracting any business,” said Opiela. “To be able to attract development, they have to know how long each step takes.” In addition to having this predictability, McKinney’s customers also have transparency into the process.
Equipping the Community With Meaningful Insights and Services
Benefits for Constituents
As part of McKinney’s implementation of EnerGov, the city chose to include Citizen Self Service, an online portal that provides constituents with 24/7 access to permitting and licensing services, while also providing constituents with a more transparent view of city development.
When you have paper and no way to track anything, you’re submitting to a black hole … now, you can see where it is, who has signed off, and what departments haven’t. That transparency has been great for our customers.
Development Services Manager
Process transparency was just the beginning. The strategic services team leveraged EnerGov data to develop interactive applications for constituents, including a garage sale finder that can be filtered by shopping category, a restaurant map displaying health food scores and inspection reports, and a dynamic development snapshot that provides highlights of residential and non-residential construction within the city.
“Our citizens and developers love having access to the data they’re interested in without having to ask for it,” said Pickett. Having accessible, explorable data helps save development resources, too — reducing the city’s open records requests and phone calls fielded by staff to answer questions.
Benefits for City Leaders
McKinney’s dynamic data also benefits city leaders and their ability to make informed decisions and track KPIs toward council goals. “We’re trying to create as many automated dashboards, maps, and resources as possible, so we can really help them,” explained Opiela.
Now, instead of having to create manual reports for city council requests, council members can often access this data themselves, or this information can quickly be extracted, mapped out, and handed over. For example, the city recently updated its ordinances to remove certain uses, but before making that decision, leaders wanted to see how many projects came in, and where they were. Because of the automated reports already set up, the data was easily pulled.
While the McKinney Development Services Division was the initial catalyst for the city’s data push, more and more city departments are integrating their workflows into EnerGov. And it’s the hope of Strategic Services to one day realize a city-wide information warehouse where all decisions and processes will be led and connected by data.