Five benefits to expect from a permit agency’s digital transformation
Even if a permit agency isn’t required to implement a digital transformation by statute, the creation or improvement of a digital permitting process can deliver some helpful benefits for applicants and reviewers alike.
The creation or improvement of a digital permitting process can deliver some helpful benefits for applicants and reviewers alike.
Key benefits of digital permitting transformation
Online services like a digital application process and the ability to follow permit reviews in real-time can make a big difference for a permit agency and the applicants that it serves. Some of the benefits cited most frequently by agencies that have undergone a digital transformation include:
1. Simplified and streamlined application, registration, and payment processes
Applicants often take advantage of a centralized online portal for submitting contractor registration documents, permit applications packages, and fees, eliminating the need for paper submittals and cash-only payments. Customer service counter wait times can be significantly reduced. Furthermore, staff will spend less time on payment processing and reconciliation. Staff can dedicate additional time to owner-builders and new contractors who may be less aware of submission requirements and local standards. Together, these benefits create predictability in service outcomes and timeliness.
2. Standardized submittal requirements with clear guidelines
Applicants are more likely to achieve an accurate submittal on the first try when expectations are clear. Reviews become less subjective, and automations can be used to determine additional requirements, such as overlay zones, historic properties, airport or environmental zones, flood hazard areas, and applicable development restrictions.
3. Single-point of access/one-stop shop for determining project status
Plan review progress, inspection results, and project comments are available to applicants in one location. Not only does this achieve compliance with statutory requirements to have permit progress posted online, but it also saves time for the customer and staff by eliminating repeated status request calls and emails.
4. Enhanced project awareness through intelligent notifications
Using logical workflows, the system can automatically notify customers and staff of submission deadlines, permit expirations, inspections, registration expirations, and review statuses. Staff can track the review timeline and be notified of approaching benchmark dates, such as statutory review timelines or local policy requirements.
5. Improved compliance with reporting requirements
Communities can improve reporting capabilities for decision support requirements and quickly address noncompliance situations to satisfy required reporting needs. Key examples include the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Building Code Effectiveness Grading Scale (BCEGS); International Accreditation Services (IAS) for Building Code Regulatory Agencies and Third-Party Service Providers (AC251); National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System audit; private provider reporting; and many others.
How to start a digital transformation at a permit agency
Successful permitting agencies introducing new and expanded online services typically start their digital transformation by understanding customer expectations associated with an effective and efficient online experience. Additionally, each agency must align these expectations with its particular mission as the combination of codes that must be enforced and regulatory services that must be provided to customers is unique.
Successful permitting agencies introducing new and expanded online services typically start their digital transformation by understanding customer expectations associated with an effective and efficient online experience.
Consider these key questions when creating your organization’s digital permitting strategy:
- What parts of your agency’s online experience should be enhanced to address the most frequent customer complaints your agency receives?
- What causes your agency to refund fees for services due to not meeting statutory review deadlines with application processing, plan review, or inspection timeliness?
- What outcomes matter most to your agency’s elected officials regarding a positive customer experience? Can these outcomes be effectively measured in terms of responsiveness, completeness, and satisfaction?
- Where do your customers see the greatest burden when attempting to voluntarily comply with building safety codes and contractor licensing requirements?
- What internal barriers exist in your permitting process that need to be addressed to improve delivery of permitting services?
- What technology or process changes could simplify your agency’s compliance reporting?
- What technology obstacles prevent your agency from making changes to address its needs?
There are various interactions shaping the customer’s experience throughout their permitting journey. Managing these expectations starts with creating predictable outcomes for each interaction. Planning for technology-focused changes involves understanding the end-to-end process, people, and resources involved so each customer interaction with your agency can be anticipated and appreciated.
Planning for technology-focused changes involves understanding the end-to-end process, people, and resources involved.
Expanding service delivery capabilities through your agency’s digital permitting transformation will elevate its reputation as a resource and enabler of your community’s economic growth and vitality. As you build a strategy to advance your digital service goals, feel free to connect with our experts. We’re here to help.