Located on the Ohio River in Jefferson County, the City of Madison, IN, boasts a rich heritage, beautiful architecture, and a thriving arts scene. As a National Historic Landmark, the City’s Planning department faces a unique challenge: ensuring preservation of the City’s rich history while accommodating growth with necessary infrastructure.
Until 2023, the City faced frustratingly manual permitting processes that made it difficult to process applications related to development initiatives. The City turned to OpenGov’s planning and zoning software, which provided an automated workflow across departments to streamline planning and zoning approvals.
“Being a small municipality and going from paper, to a new system, to another new system within a year was quite a hurdle. But I am thankful that we were able to work through that funding mechanism and adopt something as transformative as OpenGov.”
Nicole Schell, AICP, Director of Planning, Madison, IN
400% Increase in Record Types Captures Crucial Information from Applicants
Streamlined Approvals Across Departments with Workflow Automation Tools
Automated Reporting for Effortless Progress Sharing
Digitized Information Collection for Project Proposal Presentations
In 2017, Nicole Schell, AICP, Director of Planning, joined the City’s team and was confronted with a cumbersome permitting process that relied entirely on paper. “And by paper, I mean copies and copies and copies and copies,” she said.
Fast forward to 2020, and the City’s newly elected mayor vowed to curb paper usage. In response, the City invested in an on-premise permitting solution. But while the stacks of paper on Schell’s desk dwindled, a new array of challenges accumulated.
While the process was digitized, it was still heavily paper-based, stagnant, and simply not working. Schell had to print multiple copies of applications and send them manually to stakeholders and departments to get them approved.
The system also lacked customization and forced Schell to combine the City’s existing permit types into only six records. After just six months, the City began searching for alternate solutions and partnered with OpenGov.
The City now has 32 permit types automated in OpenGov, from zoning approval applications to floodplain development permits. OpenGov’s tailored fields and unique data inputs helped the City capture crucial information from applicants so staff can make more informed decisions.
“With our previous system, after a year of work, all of our applications were still incomplete. With our [Legacy System], I had to combine 30 record types into 6 six applications. And with OpenGov, I can build each application individually and with a lot more ease,” said Schell.
Automated Workflow Tools Lead to More Efficient Planning & Zoning Approvals
Schell also noted that automated workflow capabilities make cross-departmental processes much simpler. For example, development projects are much more streamlined with stakeholders from the Planning, Code, Zoning, and Building departments all in OpenGov.
“The best attribute of your system is the auto movement from one step to the next. I know exactly where I’m at with each case with just a glance,” said Duane Edward O’Neal, Code Enforcement Officer, City of Madison, IN.
This workflow tool also helps Schell when keeping track of the City’s Grant Management Program, which is now digitized in OpenGov: “I really like the timeline process. Being able to see where all my grants are, and what steps they are on has been very helpful.”
Schell can also automatically gather the information she needs to present cases or project proposals to appointed commissions, like the Zoning Appeals Board or the Historic Preservation Commission. “Each month, we provide a packet for board members to review for their meeting. OpenGov has allowed us to collect the information electronically and print it for the board members,” said Schell.
Exporting Data with Ease
Automated reporting allows the City to run reports as needed and quickly export data, a time-saver for Schell, especially when showcasing the Planning Department’s success in a monthly report to the Mayor.
“We can now run whatever reports we want when we want. We can export our data very easily and showcase all the workings of our department,” said Schell.
Since adopting OpenGov only a few months ago, the City has experienced significant improvements in its day-to-day operations. The system’s streamlined planning and zoning approval process, simplified project proposal presentations, and efficient progress reporting have led to greater efficiency and productivity, bringing the City closer to its big-picture development goals.
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