Wasatch County accelerates and simplifies plan review

Wasatch County accelerates and simplifies plan review

Listen in as Don Wood, IT director at Wasatch County, explains how OnBase helped accelerate the plan review process and remove the need for additional staff.

Video Transcription

Don Wood, IT Director of Wasatch County

Wasatch County is growing rapidly. We are becoming bedroom community for the Salt Lake City Utah area. We either had to staff up or we had to find a different way of processing building permit applications. For us, staffing was not an option so we had to look for electronic means so that we can automate the process and that allows the various entities and organizations that we have to interface with to participate. Electronic plan review for OnBase was the solution for us. It allows building permit applicants to be able to interface with 24-hours a day through a portal feature that we find very valuable. We are able to approve plans, take payments, be able to push approved documents back out to the matter of minutes and is a real life saver for us in terms of being able to handle the volume of permits that we have been asked to handle it with almost no staffing increased.

The challenges we experience before automating our business - building permit process - there were several; one was the sheer mass of papers. We were requiring one plan set that was submitted to us when they applied for the permit but then all the other building permit authorities are involved in terms of sanitation of water were requiring similar set of plans. So, they have the whole produced in terms of a permit generated and could ended up printing the plan 5-6 times and having distribute those and once we sent it, what do we do with that once we have solved it. That’s the problem we are dealing with – how do you index that; how do you retrieve it years later when somebody comes and asked. So, one of our main purposes electronic plan review, besides staff, was being able to handle the days illusion paper.

We also have an issue where we just didn't have enough people, we could stick in front of desks to process the application effectively and efficiently. So we had to look in a way that actually involves the applicants to be part of the solution process by allowing them the opportunity to submit their paper work online, by allowing them to type in their application rather than us typing it in, and then, being able to effectively submit or re-submit documents that been change in such without having to take staffs’ time to do so.

Some of the biggest benefits we gained from electronic plan review, firstly, we been able to process an immense, larger number of permits with the same number of people that we had last. We’ve been able to involve a lot of outside entities, to be able to participate in the process almost real time by being able to send the plan electronically, allowing them to connect for 24-hours a day to do the reviews at their leisure of their time, and being able to know exactly where they are in the process. It is also allowed us to be able to take our staffing needs which we always felt we were behind the eight ball - we need more, we need more - and be able to make the people that we do have working for us much more effective in what they do.

We figured if we didn't have a plan review solution like we have today, we would basically need four people to be in the office to handle all of these permit request, to handle all of the paperwork, the correspondence that would need to be there; today we do it with two. So, every year Wasatch County is driving weakest about $150,000 benefit from just having the electronic plan review. Now, there are a lot of other a lot of indirect benefits the we gained, our state legislature decided that they needed to get involved and asked us to verify that within two weeks the first plan review cycle for every building permit that were completed. With the plan review solution that are in place, we are not only able to hit that goal, but be able to provide verifiable reports to demonstrate the fact that we are hitting them.