Local governments have a responsibility to effectively manage planning and zoning in their cities and counties. However, antiquated systems and manual processes often make it difficult to keep up with the volume of permits, applications, and records required. Planning and zoning software offers an automated solution to improve productivity, enhance customer service, and ensure compliance. Here are five major reasons why local governments should adopt planning and zoning software.
1. Improve Productivity And Efficiency For Staff
Planning and zoning departments are often understaffed for the amount of work required. Planning and zoning software can automate time-consuming tasks like permit tracking, application routing, notifications, scheduling inspections, and more. This allows staff to focus on high-priority work and complex applications rather than tedious administrative duties. Staff can also access records and information more quickly, speeding up response times. Overall, the increased productivity and efficiency enabled by the software make it easier for staff to keep up with workloads despite limited resources.
2. Streamline The Application And Permitting Process For Customers
Difficult permit application and approval processes frequently frustrate property owners and contractors. Planning and zoning software provides a simplified online application portal to make submitting requests more convenient. The software automatically routes applications to the proper departments and staff, reducing confusion and ensuring nothing slips through the cracks. Applicants also gain easy access to check on the status of their applications at any time. Conditional approval letters, comments, questions, and final permits can all be delivered electronically through the portal for a streamlined experience from submission to issuance.
3. Ensure Compliance With Regulations
Navigating the matrix of planning and zoning regulations for individual properties and projects can be challenging without specialized tools. Planning and zoning software incorporates all zoning codes, ordinances, zoning maps, comprehensive plans, and related rules into a single platform. Staff can easily flag any conflicts with proposed projects during review to prevent non-compliant permits from being issued. The software also generates notices for renewals, reviews, and other required compliance actions to support ongoing regulation enforcement.
4. Improve Reporting And Analytics
Most local governments lack robust reporting and analytics capabilities, hindering data-driven decision-making. Planning and zoning software captures all relevant data in a searchable database, enabling staff to generate reports on key metrics such as application volumes, processing times, inspection workload, and more. Users can filter and analyze the data to gain useful insights into department performance and workload allocation. The reporting functions also simplify mandatory reporting to upper management and elected officials.
5. Future-Proof Your Planning And Zoning Department
Policies, regulations, and best practices in planning and zoning continuously evolve. Software solutions are frequently updated to reflect changes, ensuring that systems remain compliant and users have access to the latest features. Relying on planning and zoning software helps departments stay up-to-date and adapt to shifts in technology as new capabilities are added. The alternative is relying on static manual and paper-based processes which become increasingly outdated over time.
For most local governments, the benefits of transitioning to planning and zoning software far outweigh any costs or efforts required. While modernizing systems and digitizing records demands an initial investment of time and resources, the long-term payoff is substantial. Staff become empowered, compliance is enhanced, residents and applicants gain a higher level of service, and decision-making is improved – helping planning and zoning departments better achieve their goals. With an ever-increasing volume of permits, regulations, and plans to manage into the future, planning, and zoning software offers local governments the best opportunity to sustainably strengthen their operations.