Case Study

Why Sun Prairie, WI Is the Best Place to Break Ground and Get Promoted

Sun Prairie is one of the fastest-growing cities in Wisconsin, neck-and-neck with its eastern neighbor, Madison. Since Costco arrived in 2011, there has been an explosion of businesses choosing to plant their roots in Sun Prairie’s soil. To keep up and drive development further, the City revamped its business processes by investing in technology. 

“We want to make sure we are competitive or ahead of other municipalities in the area, or at least the same as Madison,” said the City’s IT Director, Donald McDermott, “Providing these services through modern technology is a selling point for the community.” 

In partnership with OpenGov, Sun Prairie has modernized its permitting and licensing processes, transforming the City into the best place for businesses to break ground in and for staff to advance their careers with exciting growth opportunities.

“We had a front office staff who transitioned from a receptionist role to more of a financial specialist role. So much of their time was freed up that they had a career progression to move over to finance.”

Donald McDermott, IT Director, Sun Prairie, WI


Customer Results

85% Faster Building Inspections

98% Faster Licence Approvals

2 Internal Staff Promoted to More Strategic Roles

Despite being located in a technology-savvy county, the City’s old permitting processes did not keep up with the times. The tedious and paper-based workflow led to a variety of challenges. 

For example, when a resident or developer submitted a permit, the City could not track associated documents or assign approval steps to different departments. This ultimately stalled development, as only one person from a department, could review and approve the permit or license at a time. 

In partnership with OpenGov, the City streamlined permitting and licensing across multiple departments, residents, and developers. With all documents related to permits online and approval steps automated and assigned to different stakeholders, the entire process is now quicker and more transparent. 

Lightening Fast Licensing 

The City’s Licensing department was quick to embrace the new partnership. Thanks to the elimination of face-to-face interactions, processing a business license that previously took up to an hour can now be accomplished in 90 seconds. 

Additionally, staff members who previously spent 45 minutes manually inputting paper data can now complete the task in just one minute, as OpenGov seamlessly integrates with the City’s ERP system.  These advancements have streamlined processes and demonstrated the department’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve.

“Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours have been saved in conducting business processes,” McDermott added.

Permitting Power-house  

The City’s Building department also underwent a significant overhaul, significantly improving internal efficiency and easing the process for residents. With OpenGov, the City decreased the average inspection time from 35 minutes to 3 minutes per permit. 

This time savings doesn’t even take into account the efficiencies of using the mobile app, which allows inspectors to do everything from the field on an iPad, from taking pictures to approving workflow steps. 

“We cut down these manual processes that were 20-30 years old to only 10% of what they were before,” McDermott said.

Getting On Developer’s Good Side 

According to McDermott, these recent efficiencies in Sun Prairie have significantly improved the City’s reputation among developers. In the past, developers had expressed frustration with the City’s reliance on paper-based processes, leading to a negative perception of doing business in Sun Prairie. The new improvements have drastically changed that perception, with developers now praising the City’s streamlined and efficient approach to building inspections and permitting.

“This is a huge win for the City because they are more likely to move their processes here due to the lack of red tape,” said McDermott.

From Paper Pushers to Power Players

Processing permits and licenses at lightning speed isn’t just a win for business owners and developers but for City Staff too. Eliminating chores like manual data entry has actually fostered career growth opportunities. 

“One full-time employee whose whole job was dedicated to inputting paper permits into our ERP system now has a completely new job dealing with scheduling and community outreach and is more involved in overall strategy,” said McDermott. 

By freeing up time and resources, staff can now take on more strategic tasks and exciting new challenges, allowing them to expand their skill sets and advance beyond their traditional clerical duties.

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