May 30th, 2023, London, Ont. – PSD Citywide’s municipal permitting software, Citywide Permitting, allows building departments to improve their workflows with better data management and accuracy, a benefit for staff and citizens alike.
It is no surprise that using the proper tools can make a world of difference when undertaking any task, and can fundamentally change the outcomes that are obtained. This same logic applies to building departments everywhere.
The traditional permitting system was pen and paper-based, involving hours of manual work and in-person physical document exchanges. Though this worked for many years, over time permitting tools and best practices have evolved from pen-and-paper systems to online platforms. And while municipalities may not fall into the traditional eCommerce space, offering a sophisticated online municipal permitting software has become imperative to keep up with growing community demands and expectations.
The City of Stratford recognized this and looked to replace its legacy solution to address inefficiencies and improve service delivery. This is where PSD Citywide stepped in. Their Permitting, Planning, and Licensing solution, called Citywide Permitting, allowed the City of Stratford to complete their work in a more efficient manner with increased accuracy and shorter completion times.
Automate To Do More With Less.
When searching for a digital solution, look for a solution that can centralize, automate and manage all permits, inspections, and associated fees in one secured location. This ensures no records are ever lost or mistakenly left incomplete. With a scalable and customizable solution, users can create tailored checklists and notifications. They can adjust their workflows by permit types, required documents, reviews, fees, and inspections, minimizing human error. Users can also create custom reports by permit types, status, and more for easy data retrieval and information analysis.
After implementation, Jonathan DeWeerd, Chief Building Official for the City of Stratford noted that the reporting capabilities offered by Citywide Permitting were a considerable upgrade from their previous system. They are now able to pull monthly reports for permits and customize the data to ensure they are getting the right information. City of Stratford staff members also explained that the mapping offered by the Citywide GIS Viewer increased visibility and limited the margin for error.
Likewise, scheduling changes are also made easy with Citywide Permitting. Users can save time by filtering all inspections assigned to a person and immediately reassign them to someone else. These bulk reassignments allow users to spend more time prioritizing the most important tasks and reduce time spent on tedious ones.
“The system change has been a really positive experience for staff. We are noticing our processes are a lot less time consuming and we are using less clicks and manual work to get the exact information we need.”
Kelsey Hammond, Municipal Building Official, City of Stratford
Work Smarter, Go Mobile.
Conducting inspections on a smartphone or tablet is another vital requirement a well-rounded municipal permitting software should offer in today’s modern world. With a mobile app, field staff can feel empowered to manage their inspections on-site, attach notes, documents and images on the go, and can even pass or fail an inspection in the field, facilitating code enforcement. This eliminates manual paperwork and improves efficiency. Inspectors can get the full picture by viewing current and past inspection details in the app, along with an interactive map.
Being able to upload notes in real-time was invaluable for the City of Stratford and helped them to significantly improve communication and save nearly 50% of their staff time with the Citywide Permits Mobile app. They have the flexibility of syncing data in real-time to easily stay connected with office teams, or delete an inspection record if something was entered incorrectly. Being able to delete the record ensures that no duplicates are submitted and provides clarity and data accuracy for the inspectors as well as office staff when reviewing the work and creating data reports.
Facilitate Online Applications.
Clear communication is important in any relationship, and in the municipal space, that includes the relationship between staff and permit applicants. An online tool to help facilitate communication between both parties is required. This allows citizens to easily submit permit, planning, and licensing applications online and stay updated at all times. Municipal staff can customize the fields per application type to ensure that they receive all of the information they need the first time – minimizing back-and-forth communications. They can also create custom workflows per application type with mandatory input fields to force fee collection and reviews before moving the application onto the next stage.
The Citywide Portal was welcomed with open arms by the City of Stratford’s staff and their applicants. Through this portal, they were able to easily collect information and process it efficiently without the need of having applicants constantly come into the municipal offices. “It will be a game changer moving forward, especially given the pandemic and the need for remote capabilities”, said Jonathan DeWeerd.
Applicants can save their application draft and finalize it at a later time if needed without losing any of their progress. Reference numbers and email notifications allow applicants and municipal staff to easily track updates, and obtain pre-calculated fees for quick processing.
Implementation and Ongoing Support
So, what’s the final requirement a modern municipal permitting software should offer? If you guessed human interaction, you’d be right. While this may sound surprising at first, it’s important to recognize the power that human interaction still holds.
Though it is important to lean on digital solutions to keep up in today’s modern world, the benefits of human interaction should not be overlooked. PSD Citywide’s Implementation team put all hands on deck to migrate 14 years of legacy permit data, including over 30,000 historical permits that were previously recorded across 17 different spreadsheets. Their Advisory team then stepped in to analyze, define and configure over 60 permit types, over 50 inspection types and over 80 free types, in addition to other custom elements for the City.