6 Things to Consider When Choosing a Permitting Software Vendor

Barb Mock
July 14, 2023

Beyond the characteristics everyone looks for in a new permitting system like an interface that’s intuitive for all users, there are less obvious factors you should consider in your search for a software vendor to ensure your partnership lasts long term. In addition to the common evaluation criteria like total system cost and functionality, here are six things to ask and check off your list before making that final buying decision.

1. Does IT support the platform?

The first consideration for any technical solution is whether your IT department can and will support the platform you choose. Especially if IT support is centralized and your software purchase has to be approved by the department director.

If you don’t have one already, you need to build a strong working relationship with IT to make sure you don’t reach a dead end in your permitting software modernization journey. 

Involve them from the very beginning so there aren’t any surprises. They’ll know what technical and security requirements to look for, and the right questions to ask.

2. Is the vendor responsive?

During the procurement process, pay close attention to how responsive vendors are to your requests for information, and take note of how quickly they answer your calls when you have questions. 

They clearly want your business since they’re marketing their product and service to you, but if you reach out and they’re not timely to get back to you - or don’t get back to you at all - their responsiveness isn’t likely to improve. Don’t expect that they’ll be more responsive after you’ve selected, purchased, and implemented their software.

3. Are they financially solvent?

One of the most challenging aspects of deciding on a software vendor is knowing whether the company is on a solid financial footing and in it for the long haul. After all, software companies come and go and are bought and sold.

While many financial details are proprietary, it’s in your best interest to ask lots of questions and do your research to determine if the vendor you are choosing can survive the future ups and downs of the economy. Ask whether they’re well funded and strategically positioned to not only survive economic downturns but thrive in an ever-changing technology market.

4. Is their mission to serve governments?

Working with local government requires patience and it’s important that your vendor understands this. Getting contracts signed and implementing new business process improvements takes longer than in the private sector because of additional safeguards and procedures built into the process. 

There is significant oversight and transparency for every decision we make, including software purchases. Is your vendor willing to stay the course for long periods of time?

Take time to review their mission statement to see if serving local government is a pillar for their company.

5. Is customer service a core value?

The point of purchasing new permit software is to raise the level of customer service for the residents of your community. But what about the customer service you’ll receive? 

Make sure providing exceptional customer service is one of your chosen vendor’s core values, and take it a step further by evaluating whether they truly value their intellectual capital - their employees. 

When you talk with the employees during the procurement process, are they excited about their work? Do their personal values align with the mission and values of their employer? Getting a feel for these things can help you decide whether or not they bring the value of great customer service to life.

After all, you’ll want to work with a company that’s just as committed to serving customers as you are.

6. Are they committed to the partnership?

When you purchase software, you enter into a long-term partnership. Implementing a new system is not something you can afford to do very often, so understanding that this is a commitment to long-lasting success is essential.

I would put as much effort into choosing your vendor as you would put into choosing a future spouse. Your partnership’s kind of like a marriage, so understand what you’re getting into, and plan on being “married” for a very long time. 

When all your hard work to implement a new permitting platform is done, consider that you’ll still want to like them after 20 years!

Want more best-practice tips from Barb? Check out these resources:

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