More Key Outcomes from a Successful Permitting System Modernization

The pressing need to transform regulatory processes to alleviate the Affordable Housing Crisis is increasingly resulting in loosely defined ‘low code’ mandates to equip rapid and widespread digital transformation. Although admirable in their ambitions, the recent increase of initiatives sacrificing definitive project deliverables in favor of overarching transformation ‘wins’ creates the potential for technology implementations that swing for the fences but ultimately strike out on critical system requirements.

By clearly defining non-negotiable project outcomes going in, government agencies pursuing an ambitious digital transformation vision will be able to clearly define which key features are available ‘out-of-the-box’ and which will require further configuration of the underlying development platform.

In the first part of this series, we explored some of the key out-of-the-box outcomes that are common to the vast majority of successful permitting system modernization projects. These include achievable gains in the areas of Organizational Efficiency, Information Accessibility, Citizen Led Services, and Streamlined Compliance. Now, we turn our focus to the following areas of critical importance:

  • IT Governance
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Protection
  • Budget ROI

IT Governance

Can you consistently hit a moving target? That is the question being asked of today’s government IT leaders who are expected to provide a diverse array of highly flexible technology solutions—within a cost-effective licensing portfolio capable of adjusting on the fly to evolving legislative and regulatory requirements.

From a permitting system modernization perspective, this places critical importance on sourcing highly flexible software solutions that yield maximum ownership value both off-the-shelf and over time as a configurable development platform to drive ongoing innovation across the entirety of the enterprise.

With this twofold value equation in mind, the following IT Governance wins are essential components for any permitting system modernization project and should be prioritized as such in your procurement considerations:

  • The preferred solution must guarantee improved technology lifecycle management, incorporating industry-standard SDLC implementation processes.
  • Your chosen system for modernization must contain off-the-shelf: mature feature sets and best-practice engineered business process that strengthen IT governance by immediately improving system workflows to deliver demonstrable business benefits for all user profiles and internal/external stakeholders. Sourcing such solutions reduces the reliance on internal IT teams to provide dedicated resources to configure the solution for core outputs, instead changing the product engagement to strategic configurations over time to tailor the system for emerging technology demands.
  • The successful modernization project should feature common data definitions and real-time data transfers within a scalable, fully integrated solution, thus increasing capacity to manage and share information.
  • Strong emphasis should be placed on sourcing permitting solutions that offer an underlying development engine, like the award-winning POSSE platform, equipping the enterprise to greatly reduce the time and resources required to expedite technology changes to support evolving legislative and market demands.
    • POSSE PLS includes a multi-tiered administration capability. The POSSE Administration Portal is a web-based tool designed to allows non-IT staff (typically business users) to keep the application up-to-date.
    • Via the POSSE Administration Portal authorized users can manage a variety of configuration elements ensuring the application is always up-to-date and easy-to-use. Checklists can be modified, fee schedules updated, review cycles added, Word Merge templates changed, inspection zones altered, and many more aspects managed.
    • The POSSE Stage tool allows IT staff to manage every aspect of configuration using a drag-and-drop interface. Fields can be added, workflows altered, and business rules added or modified as needed without needing to engage the vendor.



Improved cybersecurity is consistently cited as the top priority for government IT leaders tasked with managing their jurisdiction’s technology infrastructure. The fact that cybersecurity is frequently identified as a top budget priority is a reflection of the modern threat landscape that government occupies—a landscape wherein agencies manage and secure vast repositories of confidential citizen data and are simultaneously being asked to provide improved digital services and access along with increased transparency. Given the inherent conflicts of this mandate, it is more crucial than ever that projects designed to modernize permitting systems are achieved utilizing software systems that incorporate state-of-the-art security architecture and protocols out-of-the-box.

‘Powered by POSSE’ solutions incorporate a Consolidated Security architecture, a multi-layered approach to cyber security that fortifies all IT attack points – networks, cloud, mobile, etc. by sharing the same threat intelligence, prevention technologies, and management services.

Present day cyber-attacks spread quickly across all vectors, frequently bypassing conventional defenses. To defeat these attacks, older iterations of cybersecurity defenses emphasized detecting and mitigating threats rather than proactively preventing attacks before they breach internal networks. In contrast to this reactive approach to security, a consolidated architecture model facilitates proactive threat prevention with threat intelligence shared immediately across all environments, and a unified security management platform functioning to resolve potential security gaps. With a unified management approach to cyber security, a more reliable dataset equips the agency to take immediate action on emerging threats with less operational resources required for ongoing oversight.

From a Cloud perspective, your modernized permitting system should comply with the highest possible security standards and regulatory requirements off-the-shelf. POSSE Cloud, as an example, is architected to federal compliance standards with FedRAMP & ISO 27001 certified data centers audited to NIST, CJIS, and SOC 1 & 2 standards.

Additional cybersecurity requirements that should be considered mandatory in your modernized permitting system:

  • The ability to perform both static and dynamic application security scans.
  • Capabilities to conduct penetration testing prior to each planned release.
  • A comprehensive and efficient model for facilitating timely backup, archive, and recovery of key datasets

Data Protection

Data Protection is the discipline that walks hand-in-hand with your organization’s Cybersecurity model. Within the confines of a modern permitting system like POSSE PLS, the two disciplines are inextricably intertwined, with the technology platform purpose built to facilitate secure information storage and retrieval consistent with both modern data & privacy regulations and leading edge identity authentication methods.

To ensure both internal (enterprise) and external (citizen) data is stringently secured while simultaneously equipping efficient digital services to properly leverage enterprise-wide data in real-time, modern permitting systems provide data encryption in transit and at rest. Furthermore, the software system design improves privacy practices by classifying sensitive data at the attribute level requiring resultant data encryption and data masking as appropriate.

To ensure publicly submitted data is accurate and validated, POSSE solutions provide a variety of mechanisms. First, mandatory fields are highlighted and data is validated based on its format (i.e. datatype). Second, the outcome-based workflow engine ensures that all prerequisite fields are populated prior to allowing each outcome to be selected. That is, for example, the outcome of “failed” may not be selected for a given inspection if no deficiencies have been entered. Finally, workflows are designed to ensure that there are multiple opportunities for staff review ensuring bad data is not inadvertently approved.

Additionally, POSSE Cloud’s geographically distributed hosting services afford further protections, providing maximum protection against natural disasters, cybersecurity attacks or statewide outages.

This seamless integration of cybersecurity and data protection best practices within the overarching system architecture achieves several key outcomes for local and state/provincial government agencies:

  • Access Controls: User access controls and privileges can be strictly defined, enforced, and updated to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data.
  • Backups and Recovery Plan: Your modernized permitting system can easily facilitate timely and cost-effective backups and a robust data recovery plan to address potential data corruption, accidental deletion, or ransomware scenarios.
  • Data Inventory: Data assets are easily classified and tracked based on their importance or sensitivity to properly identify where such data resides and how it’s being used or shared.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools: DLP tools help to monitor and protect data in use, in motion, and at rest, by identifying and preventing potential breaches.
  • Encryption: Data encryption prevents data from being readable or useful to those without appropriate decryption keys.
  • Multi-factor Authentication: Adds an additional layer of security, ensuring that even if passwords are compromised, unauthorized users are still unable to gain access.
  • Software Updates: Regular software/system updates fortify the enterprise with current security patches and updates.
  • Threat Monitoring: SIEM monitoring tools (Security Information and Events Management) enable ongoing monitoring for potential threats or suspicious activity with related tools available to quickly respond to and limit data breaches.

Budget ROI

Finally, and most importantly, the prudent selection of a modern permitting system with a robust underlying development platform should guarantee a number of budgetary wins for both your Community Development Agency and the broader enterprise, as follows:

Cost Savings

Paper Elimination

By re-orienting internal business processes and external business services around automation assisted workflows instead of paper processes, agencies can move their focus away from time-consuming and often redundant administrative tasks, instead focusing on more informed and collaborative planning, resource allocation, and profit optimization objectives.

Physical Infrastructure Reduction

Best-in-breed permitting & licensing software like POSSE PLS leverages the cloud’s full capabilities, reducing the agency investment required for power, computing, and storage infrastructure—not to mention the reduction and/or outright replacement of bricks-and-mortar service desks in favor of online citizen services.

Software Development Savings

In addition to providing the benefits of a fully realized out-of-the-box permitting & licensing solution, agencies can utilize a ‘Powered by POSSE’ PLS solution as a true enterprise pillar application with easy-to-use low code tools giving non-technical business owners the ability to create and publish timely citizen services. POSSE’s ability to leverage workflow automation across an ever wider organizational footprint empowers forward thinking jurisdictions to eliminate disparate or poorly integrated software from their managed portfolio—resulting in dual savings on both new product development costs and current software licensing consolidation.

Legacy System Retirement

The sunsetting of legacy land management software equips agencies to pivot from poorly performing systems with siloed data and hard-coded processes yielding intrinsic inefficiencies and scant customization opportunities. Most importantly, agencies can eliminate the ever-escalating IT costs associated with maintaining outdated technology supported by a shrinking pool of technicians capable of supporting near obsolete systems.

Software Licensing Savings

For Community Development Agencies currently constrained by restrictive software licensing agreements that bind price scaling to customer portal usage, POSSE PLS yields immediate software licensing cost savings with a base license charge equipping scalable external portal usage with unlimited guests and authenticated users.

Support Cost Reductions

Agencies depending upon software solutions with no viable upgrade path to modernity typically encounter support costs escalation and performance downgrades as aging systems fail to utilize current technology infrastructure and formerly dedicated support resources are eliminated in favor of ad hoc damage control mitigation.

Conversely, hybrid cloud-based solutions such as POSSE PLS guarantee sustainable agency support costs for agencies, ensuring an always viable upgrade path and the mitigation of excessive support cost inflation via our COTS model’s inherent economies-of-scale.

Lifetime Ownership Savings

For all but the most complex software implementations, a COTS+ solution like POSSE PLS works elegantly to maintain cost efficiency throughout its entire lifecycle, avoiding the precipitous spike of traditional COTS solutions lacking underlying configuration flexibility, while also tracking significantly more efficient than cost-prohibitive custom-built solutions.

Revenue Growth

Revenue Recapture

A core facet of POSSE PLS (Permitting & Licensing System) is the software’s ability to break down silos and facilitate intra-agency data accessibility. In bringing together Department of Revenue and Licensing & Inspections data for example, the City of Philadelphia recovered millions in delinquent payment revenues from business and rental license applicants barred from approval until they settled their overdue tax bills automatically flagged by the City’s ‘Powered by POSSE’ system.

Tax Revenues

In simultaneously reducing the time taken for plan reviews, permit applications, inspection completions, and licensing provision, a properly modernized permitting system maximizes development revenues creating a beneficial cycle wherein builders are quicker to market and more profitable, which in turn grows ongoing tax revenues and long-term development re-investment.

Profit Optimization

Jurisdictions keen to expedite community development to realize resultant tax revenues more quickly can leverage a modern permitting system to accelerate development permits for desirable building proposals, and fast-track additional fee application reviews and/or plan pre-approvals.

Permitting & Licensing Revenues

Fully integrated with convenient online payment options, the digital transformation of permitting & inspection workflows equips agencies to scale for higher volume demand—eliminating the delays formerly associated with time-consuming, error-prone, and non-collaborative business processes. Quite simply, processing more permit and license applications in a shorter time period increases the agency’s fee revenues.

Expedited Development

Modern permitting & licensing systems utilizing collaborative ePlanning tools eliminate the formerly labor-intensive work of master plan review, streamlining outmoded manual document exchange, stakeholder input, and plan review and markup processes. Speeding plan reviews enables builders to schedule jobs more effectively, keeping development projects on schedule and on budget—resulting in more development and faster growing communities.

Increased Compliancy

The introduction of convenient, accessible online services improves licensing compliance from businesses choosing to operate illegally including non-compliant homebased businesses, short-term rental hosts, and small trade services. When introduced in conjunction with targeted outreach, a ‘one-stop shop’ for civic licensing is proven to increase licensee compliance rates and revenues resulting in safer, better regulated communities.

Taking Action

Modern planning and permitting systems like POSSE PLS deliver the key project outcomes required to enable your jurisdiction to meet the housing affordability challenge, utilizing a proven solution with a demonstrable record of implementation success and customer achievement.

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