Even if your permitting system works “just fine”, there are many reasons why it may be time to make the change.
Though, as government implementation experts in the webinar, “Cut Through the Complexity: How to Modernize Permitting Software Successfully,” explain, you can narrow it down to the big three: unhappy staff, unsatisfied customers, and failing technology. Any of which can form your answer to the “why” question.
All agree that the following challenges signal a need for new permit software, and stress the importance of fully understanding your stakeholders’ pain points as a first step. That way you can build a set of project requirements that will lead to happy customers, happy staff, and implementation success.
Here are the top three reasons to upgrade, according to experts:
It might be stating the obvious, but as Barb explains, if staff are constantly complaining about your current software or lack thereof, it’s time for a change.
“If your staff are having trouble with [your] permit software, or you're losing things, or [your system] can't be modified easily…[that’s] a legacy system…and [likely] no one knows what's under the hood or how it works.”
- Barb Mock
Another glaring indicator is if your staff have shadow systems they’ve created to help them get through their tasks on time. If anything signals things aren’t working as they should - it’s bootstrapped workarounds.
“If you don't have a software system that [can] support staff, [and in turn] customers, that can cause a lot of internal issues [like high staff turnover]” says Dianna. It may not be top of mind when you’re thinking about permit software, but if staff don’t feel supported to do their job, you might experience higher levels of staff turnover. A modern permitting system can change that and contribute to an overall better employee experience.
If you don’t offer online permitting, or have a system that’s out-of-date, customers likely flood you with requests to upgrade. After all, we’re in an era of being able to do almost everything online. Why should applying for a permit be any different?
Customers want the convenience of doing everything from the comfort of their own home. They want government services to meet modern standards. “It’s [just] so important to stay current with what’s expected today,” explains Dianna.
Scott adds that at a bare minimum, you need online capabilities.
“When we went shopping for a replacement for our old legacy system, online capabilities were a critical factor, because everybody's pushing for it. All of our customers are asking for it. Our board is wondering why we didn't have it years ago.”
- Scott Doolittle
Barb seconds the necessity of online capabilities, stressing that if customers “can't schedule [inspections] online with [their] phone, upload their application and pay fees, and certainly, if [they] can't check plans online…that's a really good indicator.”
Ultimately, your customers - and more broadly your community - should be priority #1 if you’re considering an upgrade. Because, as Barb points out, “[they’re the ones] affected by all the permits that [you] issue.”
“If [someone in your community] can't look at a GIS map and click on it, and see what's going on in their neighbourhood at various stages of the process, or if they're just beating you up asking for records that you can't access, then that's a sign that maybe you need to look at making improvements.”
- Barb Mock
An intuitive online permitting portal can help you go above and beyond customers’ service expectations. With it, anyone can look up detailed information on a map, apply for and manage permits, correspond with staff, pay fees, and more. Literally anything they’d do in-office they can do online.
#3: IT can't update your system
Your system may work - but what happens when it goes down? Barb explains that “if your IT department can’t support you, if they can't fix [your permitting software] when it breaks… then you're in a bind, because you don’t want to shut down an entire industry.”
In fact, in Barb’s experience, she explains that “[most of what] drives technology change is the technology itself.”
If your system’s no longer getting regular software updates, or it’s simply not supported anymore, you’re due for an upgrade.
A clicks-to-configure system can not only minimize the need for IT support, but help you keep up with ever-changing codes and regulations. It’s well worth the investment.
Thinking about implementing new permit software but not sure where to start? Check out the Permit Software Buyers Guide for a summary on what you need to know.