Unrealistic expectations are common in the construction industry and lie at the bottom of the ever present sea of confusion, conflict, and confrontation. Pressured by the “time is money” principle owners and contractors will forever be motivated to push for a clearly defined and efficient permitting process.
Well defined Workflows and Business rules are an absolute must whether the process is paperless or not. A good Electronic Plan Review (electronic plancheck) system will provide for unlimited workflows and processes designed to enforce the departments business rules. Just as important is the need to provide clarity regarding the requirements and time cycles of the process. Having an online overview tailored to the unique needs of each stakeholder provides the transparency needed to assure confidence in the process and allay the anxieties that result in constant and unnecessary contact with the jurisdiction.
Realistically speaking there are only a few electronic tools that can help speed an approvers understanding of the numerous complexities involved in a comprehensive review. Accepting this as reality we can move on to focus on the features and benefits that Electronic Plan Review can provide and they are substantial.
The most important, yet least quantifiable, benefit is the level of cooperation obtained when you remove confusion from the equation. People begin to work together as opposed to in conflict with each other. This translates into a good experience for both sides of the counter. It’s a better world when the government can actually help owners and contractors be more efficient and thus more profitable.
To that point, the cost of a paper submittal can be enormous. It’s not uncommon for some jurisdictions to need ten to fifteen sets of submittal documents to adhere to their submittal requirements.
Eliminating this need altogether can save the development community hundreds of thousands of dollars while helping to improve our environment. After a long history of increasing development fees on a regular basis, it’s very refreshing to a developer to see the jurisdiction actually lowering his cost to do business with the municipality.
Once again, “time is money!” and much of it is saved when the marked up drawings don’t need UPS or FEDEX to reach the respondent. Don’t overlook the cost savings here either…..it can be substantial especially when the shipment has to be expedited. In large building project weeks even months of review time is saved over the life of the project from submission to approval.
Applicants come is all sizes. From technically sophisticated owners and developers to the mom and pop operation that just can’t muster electronic resources. A comprehensive Electronic Plan Review system will have a plan B in place to accommodate folks when the best they can do is bring their idea of a porch addition in on a napkin.
Administrators require a user friendly interface that presents, in obvious fashion, any critical path issues that have a chance to become contentious. The ability to drill down on the project detail and documentation is a must if the administrator is to provide knowledgeable guidance and advice in the resolution of hot items. Any level of detail should be available to administrators within two or three clicks with no keystroke entries required. Any instructions to the applicant such as Comment Letters, Correction Notices and Approval Letters need to be configurable, selectable and auto fill with all copies automatically archived to the project files..
Reviewers should expect to be able to access an organized task board showing all projects that have been assigned and what the priorities and due dates are. An intuitive markup tool set and comment library are absolutes. Status alerts and noticing keeps the reviewer abreast of changes in priorities and deadlines. Being able to work remotely is a huge advantage in managing the occasional yet eventual “Crisis”……walt