In recent years, ePermitting has become significantly valuable to municipalities, offering a solution to reduce the time it takes to process applications via lengthy traditional processes.
Yet even as many local governments realize the full potential of ePermitting solutions, many are still wary of implementing them within their own organizations. There are many reasons for this lack of adoption. For folks new to the digital sphere, switching from a tried and true paper process can be unfamiliar and intimidating, sometimes assuming that digital solutions will make the permitting process more complex or convoluted. However, much of the concerns people have with ePermitting are unfounded.
To put fact behind fiction, we’re unpacking four of the most commonly expressed “myths” of switching to an ePermitting solution and the truth behind them – so you can feel confident in your decision to transition. Let’s dive in.
Top Four Myths Regarding Making the Switch to ePermitting
“ePermitting Replaces Jobs”
A common fear for municipalities is technology replacing jobs, which can make the idea of automation scary.
However, in the case of ePermitting, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, many municipalities that have adopted digital permitting solutions have noted its ability to enhance operations, enabling municipal staff to be even more productive. Today, most municipal employees are inundated with requests, creating backlogs and damaging the citizen experience. A digital permitting solution doesn’t replace employees, but rather streamlines tasks, creating a more efficient process for providing permits. Further, it makes the experience easier for the employee, helping to reduce the risk of them feeling burned out and quitting.
“Our Community Isn’t Ready for Digital Experiences”
If you’ve been running permitting solutions by pen and paper for decades, the idea of switching to a digital solution can be overwhelming and unfamiliar. It’s easy to think; “If paper-based processes have worked this long, why fix what isn’t broken?”.
Yet the popularity of ePermitting isn’t for the sake of simply replacing pen and paper. Today, digital experiences are an expectation of most citizens who want the convenience of being able to easily submit a request from the comfort of their home or on their mobile devices. They’ve come to expect this from their financial institutions, retailers, and other service providers today. Since the pandemic, when lockdowns forced more people to access services online as opposed to in-person, this expectation of being able to access services whenever and wherever online has only continued to grow.
Further, this isn’t only in regard to citizen preferences but is aligned to the processes of other municipalities, both large and small. Neighboring towns and cities are most likely using digital solutions to manage their permits and are perceived more and more as something a healthy and progressive community should deliver.
“The Transition Is Long and Complex.”
Another myth is the belief that the transition from paper to digital can take up too much time and is overly complex to implement.
On the contrary, while there is some effort needed to get started, ePermitting as a whole can make your administrative team more organized long-term. Today, local governments dedicate spaces in offices for permitting documentation and filing – all while having specific spreadsheets and notes saved on computers. With so many places for files to live, they can easily get lost in the shuffle.
A sophisticated ePermitting solution holds all applications and their corresponding files in a single location. Teams can view inspector notes, diagrams, photos, and more, all in one place. It ensures nothing gets left behind and everything is accessible to those granted access.
Further, onboarding a digital shouldn’t be overbearing for your team, and with the right partner, can be built out over time to meet your needs and your resource demands as you grow. Focusing on selecting an experienced, quality software solution provider, you receive not just a robust solution, but a team of professionals to ensure the transition runs smoothly and is scalable to your long-term goals.
“It Negatively Impacts the Citizen Experience”
Lastly, a common myth is that switching to digital technology can negatively impact the citizen experience. As noted earlier, this has become an expectation for most citizens in today’s digital world but just because you move online doesn’t mean you’ve improved the experience.
Selecting the right ePermitting solution can improve the user experience tenfold. It simplifies each step in the process and citizens feel empowered to fill out applications. However, many municipalities try to do this themselves without the in-house expertise whose sole expertise and focus is digital user experience. This is why it is important to work with a reputable software provider with the experience and skills to ensure a superior online experience for your citizens.
PSD Citywide Permits, as an example, has built its ePermitting platform around the citizen experience. It allows citizens to easily create a profile online and attach all necessary documentation for their application, and then return at a later date and view its status. If something is missing, they can either immediately attach it or come back at a later date when they’ve collected all the information. Rather than filling out multiple forms, attaching documents, and running back and forth, it’s a simple and effective way for citizens to successfully walk through a process many of them find daunting and unfamiliar.
While the experience of transitioning to ePermitting can be intimidating, the payoff is significant. With access to real-time application status, organized permit management, and providing transparency across departments, a digital permitting solution should be a top consideration for local governments. As demonstrated, the above are legitimate concerns for many municipalities when they start looking into an ePermitting solution, but when you take a closer look you can quickly classify them as myths worth debunking to provide a better overall employee and citizen experience.