Local and county governments have the complex task of issuing all permits across many different departments—which is no small feat. But something to understand is how that complexity affects your constituents.
Permit discovery is what we call that first phase of a project where a constituent is trying to figure out permit requirements and how to be compliant with a myriad of regulations. A traditional permit discovery process is tedious, frustrating, and can have negative effects on you—the governing body.
Traditional permit discovery involves falling down a rabbit hole of search engine results where your applicant is reading a lot of conflicting permit information from the different departments in your organization.
Some cities and counties offer some permit guidance on a static webpage—which is a great start—but that’s still a lot of information to wade through. Think about it like this: would you rather take twenty minutes to map out your route on a paper map or type something into Google Maps and get directions in seconds? As tech rapidly advances in the private sector, the demand is rising for modern government services that can give constituents the information they need without much fuss.
If you’re unsure whether to take the next steps to modernize your permit discovery process, here are four ways a traditional permit discovery process can hurt you and how you can fix them.
How traditional permit discovery could be hurting your organization
1. Poor constituent experience
There are few things more frustrating than digging through pages and pages of Google search results for information that’s critical to getting a project off the ground. If an applicant can’t find information to get the permits they need, they risk fines, penalties, and even legal action—depending on the violation. This kind of situation also brings a mess of paperwork, inspections, and legal processes for your team to deal with.
Even if applicants can find the information they need, they usually have to navigate jargon-filled technical language that makes little sense to anyone other than a government official. Elements of a traditional permit discovery process like this can prevent your constituents from even starting projects, which can be harmful to your economic development goals, among other things.
2. Lost productivity
How much time does your administrative team spend answering basic questions over the phone or in person? If information on permits is hard to find, your staff is wasting time fielding queries.
A permitting process that’s manual and even partially paper-based will weigh down your permit discovery even more and take your productivity down with it. Tedious, manual tasks can add unnecessary stress to your already busy team, leading to some of the more big-picture items falling to the wayside.
3. Lack of transparency
Transparency in government is a huge deal and has been a hot topic for the last few years. If your permitting processes aren’t clear and accessible to the general public, that’s a red flag and can open your organization up to collective criticism or investigations from higher regulatory bodies.
In an era where public trust in government is a little rocky, improving the transparency of your permitting processes can go a long way to building trust with your community and encouraging new projects.
4. Little insight into permit activities
Without a defined, centralized permit discovery process, you’re missing out on a wealth of insights on what’s happening in your jurisdiction. Not having access to what permits are required or requested can lead to projects that don’t align with your community’s goals. It also keeps you in the dark about process inefficiencies and areas where resources are wasted.
Modern, centralized permit discovery is the answer
Modern permit discovery comes in the form of a software tool that spans your entire organization and serves as a central, online repository for all permit information. Implementing permit software that works with your current tech ecosystem and processes can help you maximize efficiency with little disruption.
Taking this approach can be a game changer for both your organization and your constituents.
A constituent-friendly process
Using a permit software solution like OpenCounter gives applicants access to a portal where they can fill in simple, straightforward information about their project and get all the information they need, such as:
- Zoning requirements
- Permits needed
- Application process and requirements
This cuts down the permit discovery time from days to minutes. A messy permit discovery process can be a significant barrier for constituents and can prevent them from starting a project. With a system that provides tailored permit guidance, doing business with your local or county government is much easier and more attractive.
Clear, accessible permit information
Creating that one source of truth for permits has the added benefits of providing real-time data and analytics that improves transparency and accountability. Allowing the public insights into your jurisdiction’s permitting activities helps build trust between your organization and your constituents.
Plus, providing all permit information in clear, friendly language ensures your permit discovery processes are accessible to everyone—which levels the playing field and supports the applicant, rather than alienating them.
Better operational efficiency
Using technology in your permitting processes can work wonders to free up your staff time and save on operational costs—especially in permit discovery. Your team will spend less time guiding applicants through the process and more time processing applications, alongside other important duties.
Permit software also automates some of the more tedious administrative tasks, which can help speed up permit application processing time, code enforcement, and so much more. This opens up your team’s capacity for more strategic planning while improving your constituents’ experience.
More informed decisions
In today’s government, data is better than gold. With OpenCounter’s reporting features, your organization has access to a wealth of information that can help you keep tabs on development projects, find trends within the types of permit applications, identify process inefficiencies, and support improved resource allocation.
This data can also help each department in your organization make more informed decisions when scoping and prioritizing your own projects. Access to data and insights highlights opportunities to save resources and continuously improve your processes for better constituent and staff experience.
Get started with better permit discovery today
Permit discovery is a vital part of permitting that’s often overlooked. But there are many ways local and county governments can turn a disjointed process into something that benefits your constituents, your staff, and your entire organization.
OpenCounter can help you make that a reality through our flexible solutions. Learn more about how we can help you streamline your existing permitting systems and processes.
Start creating your new and improved permit discovery process today—let’s talk about it!