The Key Outcomes From a Successful Permitting System Modernization

Accelerated by the pandemic, the movement to digitally transform government services is so universal now that those agencies pursuing rapid adoption scenarios are running the risk of the advance hype falling far short of the bottom-line results from such transformations.

 

This is particularly true in the domain of permitting system modernization where 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.

 

George Santayana once said that, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This maxim is important to remember in the current push for open-ended innovation projects, many of which hearken back to the original era of digital transformation when far too many organizations greenlit poorly defined technology initiatives under the aegis of ‘modernizing for the web.’ Ultimately this led to the ongoing ‘Buy vs Build’ debate with many realizing in hindsight that buying a mature COTS solution incorporating best-practices feature functionality is almost always the more prudent and productive approach, particularly for budget-constrained agencies that need to get it right the first time.

 

With current demands for digital transformation calling for rapid response once again, it is more important than ever that today’s Community Development Agencies have an exacting vision for a pending permitting system modernization project with the mission-critical outcomes well-defined and fully documented. As a market leading permitting solution provider for 40+ years, Computronix is fluent in both the crucial outputs that commonly define successful permitting modernizations AND the full potential for ongoing innovation that resides in our award-winning POSSE Platform. By clearly defining non-negotiable project outcomes going in, government agencies pursuing an ambitious digital transformation vision will be able to identify which key features are available ‘out-of-the-box’ and which will require further configuration of the underlying development platform. Having full transparency on each avenue empowers agencies to articulate a project vision that provides the best of both worlds:

 

  • A cost-effective project guaranteeing a mature feature set with best practice business processes from launch.

           AND

  • A long-term innovation vision that maximizes the value of the underlying development platform as an ongoing innovation engine for the enterprise.


With that in mind, let’s explore the key project outcomes that are common to the vast majority of our permitting system modernization projects.

 

Organizational Efficiencies

 

Often lost in the hype over digital transformation initiatives is the extensive value that is derived from simply having a system that makes your agency more efficient by a considerable factor. Particularly for government agencies that have learned to accommodate the limitations of expiring legacy systems, there can be a tendency to underestimate how truly impactful a modernized system will be in streamlining daily agency outputs. Efficiency gains can often have the most transformative effect of all by evolving an agency from a tasks culture dominated by inefficient and time-consuming duties to a knowledge culture dominated by data accessibility and guided automation.


Key outcomes in this area include the following:

  • True system automation facilitating end-to-end completion of core & critical business processes.
  • Creation of a single-source-of-truth dataset, facilitating the following:
    • Elimination of data silos
    • Improved data accuracy and trust
    • Innate efficiencies via the reduction and/or elimination of disparate systems
    • Improved transparency and communication for all stakeholders
  • Quicker more agile response to regulatory changes.
  • Elimination of repetitive and/or duplicative tasks improving staff morale and skills maximization.
  • Increased permitting throughput with guided automation helping to reduce submission errors with automated workflows prompting applications to progress expediently.
  • More data made public thus reducing the amount of public record requests required.
  • Automation of licensee communications at key lifecycle junctures.
  • Ad Hoc Reporting enabling timely and scheduled data provision for key stakeholders.
  • Reduced time and resources to onboard new hires.
  • Consolidated tracking with a coherent licensee view across all permitting, licensing, enforcement, inspection, and reporting outputs.
  • Reduced time and effort for IT to manage and maintain disparate systems and datasets.
  • Enhanced ability to achieve immediate efficiency gains and the resultant strategic objectives and budget efficiencies.

 

Information Accessibility

 

Improved information accessibility is one of the critical facets of digital transformation where the hype is arguably deserved, given the truly transformative impacts that enhanced data accessibility can empower. However this area can often be where a modernization initiative can go awry if the project requirements have not been properly articulated to ensure the physical product that’s configured meets or exceeds all of the requirements envisioned within a more theoretical project vision. Given the system needs to efficiently index and process vast datasets while simultaneously ensuring the privacy and security of critical citizen information, it is here that a proven permitting software system demonstrates its value out-of-the-box.

 

Key data accessibility outcomes from a successful permitting modernization project include the following:

  • Full lifecycle data facilitating a comprehensive licensee/compliance history from a single point of access.
  • True open data access aggregating licensing, enforcement, and adjudication data for integration with citizen facing Business Intelligence tools.
  • Elimination of existing data silos and blockades, providing the agency with a single source-of-truth to empower a data-driven culture equipped by user-friendly Ad Hoc Reporting tools.
  • Public information access enabling citizen-led permitting and planning services with improved compliance achieved via the increased transparency of regulatory requirements and deadlines.
  • System-wide information access in the field for inspection and enforcement workers synchronized with current safety codes and license specific checklists.
  • Improved utility and analysis of organization wide datasets, increasing the agency’s abilities to generate incisive reports, guide policy decisions and priorities, and respond effectively to legislative and public engagement priorities.

 

Citizen Led Services

 

Within the overall scope of a permitting modernization project, improved data accessibility and citizen-led services go hand-in-hand. In fact, while improved data accessibility provides the infrastructure to transform your organization, citizen-led services provide the tools to transform your entire permitting paradigm from reactive to proactive driven by the market demands of your jurisdiction’s development community. With citizen led services, permitting, licensing, and development plan submissions leverage workflow automation specific to your agency’s regulatory requirements to align all stakeholders in a guided process optimized to ensure safe, accurate, and timely outcomes.

 

Key outcomes in this area include the following:

 

  • A comprehensive permitting portal incorporating web-based licensing services, online payment options, automated deadline prompts, and critical license compliance workflows.
  • Data assisted online workflows providing applicants with pertinent business rule prompts to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of planning and permitting submissions.
  • Mobile-friendly and web-responsive design ensuring optimal accessibility and usability for all end user profiles.
  • A comprehensive service engine with off-the-shelf process automation for the full gamut of permitting, licensing, planning, and enforcement tasks including:
    • Online submission of permit, license, and development plan applications.
    • Ability for licensee to monitor and update information within a single account profile incorporating the full breadth of permitting services.
    • Access to enforcement investigation outcomes.
    • Payment mechanisms and the ability to easily update fee structures.

 

Streamlined Compliance

 

For many jurisdictions, compliance is a moving target mission that challenges regulatory agencies to manage the risk and measure the efficacy of evolving standards on a continual basis. A properly modernized permitting system provides the pivotal platform needed to streamline compliance workflows. Leveraging a real-time approach to risk management, big data and automation assistance work together to facilitate compliance business processes that are proactive and educational rather than overly prescriptive or prohibitive.

 

Key outcomes in this area include the following:

 

  • Streamlined compliance processes strike a better balance between immediate delivery demands and the long-term trend analyses that yields substantial regulatory gains in the context of staff, operations, and infrastructure. In reducing the administrative burden of compliance via automation assistance, forward-thinking agencies are empowered to focus on the larger strategic aims of stronger governance, enhanced risk management, and economic development.
  • Suitably equipped with comprehensive data accessibility and a robust ad hoc reporting schema, regulators can better analyze the efficacy of diverse regulatory mechanisms including more opportunities to test ‘soft’ outcome-based instruments that can be fine tuned over time as opposed to overly restrictive frameworks that stifle potential innovation and compliance alike.
  • A properly modernized permitting system creates the appropriate infrastructure to administer risk-based tactics for targeting compliance monitoring and enforcement resources. By proactively identifying areas where the likelihood of noncompliance is higher and/or the impact of non-compliance greater, the regulator can better direct monitoring, outreach, and enforcement efforts as appropriate.
  • In jurisdictions where collaboration amongst multiple regulators is required, a modern permitting system can seamlessly share key planning and permitting information at pivotal points in the application process. Automated notifications inform all stakeholders when actions and decisions are required with collaborative ePlanning environments creating the opportunity for licenses to rectify emerging compliance issues on a timely and cost effective basis.

 

In Our Next Installment…

 

As a group, the substantial gains made in efficiency, data accessibility, citizen led services, and streamlined compliance are sufficiently robust to get today’s modern Community Development Agencies excited about the project outcomes from a successful permitting system modernization.


However, this is only half of the story!

 

In the 2nd half of this series, we’ll take a look at the gains your agency will achieve in the areas of IT Governance, Cybersecurity, Data Protection and Budget ROI.

 

Like this first installment, we’ll focus on those project outcomes that are achievable out-of-the-box when deploying a deep feature COTS solution like POSSE PLS. While ‘big picture’ innovation visions are certainly achievable with our award-winning POSSE development platform, you may find yourselves asking, “Why are we trying to reinvent the wheel with an open-ended development mandate when best-in-breed products such as POSSE PLS provide the overwhelming majority of the features we need now?”