The Best Way to Stay on Track

The new year is off to yet another unprecedented start, so much so that ‘unprecedented’ has lost some of its meaning over the last two years.  

According to the Center for Digital Government’s 2018 Digital Counties Survey, 78% of respondents did not have more than 80% of their systems and applications in the cloud.  

Then the pandemic hit.  

The ongoing trend of modernizing with cloud-based software solutions was amplified as local governments had to pivot to keep up with new ways of working. In 2020, the number of U.S. counties that had less than 20% of their systems and applications in the cloud had dropped to 60%.  

Improve Efficiency with Fewer Staff

Paper-based or on-premises systems can significantly slow down a department’s efficiency and impose unnecessary limits.  

This January, the Santa Rosa County Building Inspections Department in Florida realized the limitations of paper when one-third of their staff was sick at the same time with COVID-19 or strep. They published a press release sharing that there may be a delay in permits, returned phone calls, and inspections as a result.  

The Planning and Zoning Director explained that paper documents are still used within the county and their upcoming transition to an electronic system could allow the Planning and Zoning Department to review applications simultaneously.

By improving efficiency, when having a full staff working is not an option, processes can continue to operate as normally as possible.

Issue More Building Permits

An online way of working can allow local governments to issue more building permits. Most software solutions focused on helping building departments cite speeding up permit issuance between 50% and 80% when they leave paper behind in favor of online options.  

In Illinois, Boone County realized a drastic improvement in the number of building permits they could issue after moving their permit process online.  

From December 2020 to mid-April 2021, they issued 140 permits for permit fees totaling $68,000. In mid-April, the Building and Zoning Department adopted a cloud-based software solution for their permit process, and as of the first week of October last year, increased their number of issued permits by 213.6% and their previous year’s permit value by 105.9% with 439 permits totaling $140,000.  

Lower IT Costs

When local governments opt for online software solutions that are handled by the software provider, IT departments benefit.

The City of Atwater in California’s IT Manager, Glin Lamerson, explained that by choosing a cloud-based software solution, their IT department will not need to worry about the typical headaches associated with bringing on a new service, like capital costs of purchasing servers, licensing, storage, maintenance contracts, or staff hours to maintain or configure the system.  

“There is no regular cycle of application installations or the need to configure a server for growth over time with a cloud-based and web-based solution. With Cloudpermit, we don’t have to worry about frequent application patches and updates which, on occasion, have caused additional headaches."

They also shared that when a new service is brought online, you need to account for the additional cooling that the system will require, but when you choose a solution that is handled by the software provider, the cost of maintaining the software is not a factor.

Cloud-based software solutions for local governments can save valuable time for IT departments and give them time back in their day to work where they are needed.  

Increase Your ROI

Many local governments are putting in more work than they need to accomplish specific tasks, especially when they are not taking advantage of working in the cloud.  

Staff can spend countless hours playing phone tag, answering questions about where an applicant’s inspection sits in the process and finding files that should be easy to locate.  

Departments that spend on average, 45 minutes manually processing each of their approximately 100 permits per year and conduct 350 inspections on an annual basis with 15 minutes to complete each inspection report, can recover 20.3 days (about 3 weeks) from switching to a cloud-based solution.

They can also benefit from saving 300 trips and almost 14,000 miles in traveling (and save 9.9 tons in carbon emissions), and when their average cost per resource per business day is $400, they can save over $10,000 per year when they move their processes online (see what you can save here).

Make All Involved Parties Happier

Happiness at work is important, and when staff can do the same work once, instead of twice, happiness climbs.

Cloud-based solutions encourage efficiency, consistency, and better customer service as applicants and development communities have improved transparency into their building permits, planning applications, and complaints.

Cloudpermit provides smart software solutions for building permitting, planning, and code enforcement for simple and online land management processes. Applicants receive notifications when their building permit or inspection status changes and can communicate with their local government online with time-stamped messages.  

As most professionals in customer-facing roles can agree, when their customer is happy, it makes their day easier too. The development community benefits as well since they can submit applications without needing to travel to the office, keep track of all needed files in one digital place, and communicate with third-party agencies online.

Start the Year Right

Make time this year to consider how the health of local governments can improve.

Whether that be through remote and simultaneous work if staff shortages occur, being able to issue more building permits, lowering your IT costs, increasing ROI, or making government staff happier, there are opportunities to make departments healthier with cloud-based software solutions for community development.