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Top workplace surveys reveal the attributes of a great work environment, and consistently they tend to be: employees have the tools to do their jobs well, and employees feel appreciated for the work they do.
For Bannock County Idaho’s Planning and Development Services office, start-and-stop workflows resulted in an unhappy process for employees and applicants; however, when the County made the decision to change the way they worked, they realized cost savings and new levels of efficiency, and also higher levels of employee engagement.
Bannock County adopted OpenGov’s Citizen Services suite, and reduced permit processing time from six weeks to two. Now, the team is growing and employees are stretching into more strategic roles.
“We’ve become the office that everyone wants to work for with OpenGov.”
Tristan Bourquin, Assistant Planner for Bannock County, ID
Before Bannock County implemented OpenGov, obtaining a permit required multiple in-person steps by the applicant, but there wasn’t visibility into the process between interactions. Developers and residents grew increasingly unhappy with delays.
The manual workflow was even more of a burden on the Planning and Development Services side. Plans had to be scanned and converted to PDF with all key details (applicant details, square footage, etc.) manually entered into an online platform; after which point, things really slowed down. Only one review could happen at a time, from zoning to fire, with the application sitting in inboxes in between. Most applications took six weeks.
Growing communities quickly learn that there are diminishing returns for manual process improvements. Finally biting the bullet, Bannock County implemented a smarter approach with OpenGov, which saved time and money, improved the experience for residents and developers, and enabled concurrent workstreams.
With OpenGov, applicants can submit their plans and payment directly to the County through the permitting portal. Instead of a start-and-stop workflow that depended on one individual completing work before another started, applications are concurrently sent to all approving individuals. Additionally, OpenGov enabled automation for elements like fee check and communicating missing steps and documents to the applicant.
As a result, in-person applications shrunk by over 60%, and front desk and manual work was reduced by over 50% for the Management Assistant. Previously, the cost of inefficient workflows amounted to more than $19,000/year in time spent by a Grade 9, $18.29/hour employee. Of course, the costs were even greater when considering time spent by the broader team.
Without the need to answer front desk questions, double-check documents, and manually assign each permit step, customer-facing roles now serve cross-functionally, supporting more planning activities to attract more development to the County.
Finally, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, the team did not skip a beat. Employees took their computers home through the stay-at-home order and issued permits virtually at the same cadence as they did pre-crisis.
All happy workplaces are alike, but top workplaces attract and retain the best talent.
Bannock County is in the southeastern part of Idaho. It is the fifth-most populous county in Idaho. The county seat and largest city is Pocatello. Bannock abuts the Snake River touching the top of the American Falls Reservoir. The County was on the old route of the Oregon Trail, the historic east-west, large-wheeled wagon route and emigrant trail that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon.
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