Develop and report: Why your plan review solution should have dashboards

Many of the features I’ve highlighted in previous blog posts cover the tools you need to improve your plan review process. These include getting rid of paper, automating reviews, offering a way to submit and communicate online, etc.

But what about the tools that would make elected officials, development board members and process improvers happy?

That’s where reporting comes in. Have you ever had a moment where you needed to answer a question about a specific application, or more generally, how a process is working? If so, you can imagine the value of having an executive dashboard with easy-to-create reports on your review process. Dashboards are a trendy topic, but let’s break down why the solution you pick needs to have the right kind of dashboards.

The stakes and the complexity

Depending on the project for plan review, it’s common to be very high-profile for your community. It goes directly to the perception of your community as being open to development and the jobs and revenue that come with it. But plan review is process heavy and if you are using paper, you can’t really understand where things are in a review. It’s hard to easily aggregate the number of applications in a process, the types of applications you receive and the historic trends in development.

To accomplish these measures in a paper world, your staff is likely building and maintaining separate systems to answer questions and better understand what has been submitted. This is a serious drain on staff time and doesn’t offer real-time answers.

One of the best aspects of deploying the right electronic plan review process is that by abandoning paper and automating the process, you get the data and features you need to drive better reporting. Dashboards need reviews to be moving electronically through your process to be meaningful measures of that process. And, if it is a paperless process, your staff won’t be burdened with painful manual processes to track and aggregate data about the review submissions you receive.

The process (improvement)

Because the plan review process is highly visible, there will always be calls to improve it, to make it faster or more convenient. And as always, calls to make it easier to participate. To accomplish this, the process must be mined for insights – the types of projects, the length of the review process and the ideal staffing levels (or the gap between workload and existing staff).

In this context, dashboards that build on an electronic process need to have the ability to examine that process. This means the ability to do more than aggregate applications by date and type, it means diagnostics to judge the process itself. It also means that the underlying functionality of the reporting includes collecting data on time to process each application. The ability to understand the time each individual review takes and which stages are taking longer. With this functionality, you can build on the initial efficiency improvements of going electronic and base actions on dashboards that look at process health and bottlenecks.

If your goal is to continuously improve your review process to better serve your jurisdiction, your solution needs to include the tools that will allow you to do that. And those tools should include the ability to build this data automatically so your staff doesn’t need to perform manual tasks to provide a picture of the health of the process.

The answers are digital

Overall, electronic plan review is the type of solution that is a must-have technology for communities with review responsibilities. It offers key functionality, including:

  • A digital process

Provides the foundation for better services and the ability to improve the process.

  • Tools to drive efficiency and manage reviews

Empowers your review team with a better user experience and more visibility and accountability for the stages of the review process.

  • Dashboards for visibility

Provides elected officials and managers with a real-time picture of the development in your jurisdiction and the efficiency of your review team. With these tools, you don’t just know what types of development are happening, you know how your team is dealing with the development workload. That picture helps you continue to offer better service in the future.

A digital process makes truly descriptive dashboards possible, meaningful and impactful. With robust reporting tools, you can continue to strike a balance between thoughtful plan reviews and process improvements that can produce better and faster development in your jurisdiction.

Terri Jones

Terri Jones

Wondering what goes into a document management or ECM software deployment in government? Terri Jones, Hyland's government marketing portfolio manager, has your answer. In her 10 plus years in both state and local government, she's managed IT departments, implemented ECM strategies and written legislation and program policies. If that isn't enough to prove her IT expertise in government, she has also designed and implemented data systems and websites to manage compliance and funding in excess of $90 million annually. Have a question for her? Contact her at terri.jones@onbase.com.

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