Blog Post
April 12, 2024

Government Permitting Software: 10 Features for Efficiency and Compliance

From construction projects to special events, permits ensure safe, compliant, and well-organized development within your jurisdiction. Outdated permitting systems, burdened by manual processes and paper trails, cause delays, increase costs, and erode public confidence.

Modern permitting software, designed specifically for government needs, can transform your operations. Let's explore the must-have features for a successful, streamlined, and future-ready permitting process.

10 Essential Features for Government Permitting Software

1. Online Permit Applications (E-Permitting)

Make the application process easy for both applicants and staff.  A user-friendly online portal allows 24/7 access for submitting applications, with clear instructions for required documentation. Automated fee calculations and payment integration eliminate friction.

For instance, a local contractor can start a building permit application from their smartphone on a job site, saving time and potential errors associated with manual forms.

2. Configurable Workflows and Automated Approvals

Every project is unique. Opt for a flexible system with customizable workflows, tailoring review processes by permit type. Automated approval sequences, where applicable, keep projects on track. 

Simple projects, like deck renovations, might receive automatic approval after meeting zoning compliance, while complex developments benefit from clear, multi-department coordination.

3. Permit Tracking and Transparency

Empower applicants, staff, and the public with real-time information. Grant applicants visibility into application status and inspection schedules, fostering trust and minimizing frustrating phone calls. Custom dashboards for stakeholders offer clarity into workloads and the permitting process. 

Residents applying for a backyard fence permit can effortlessly check the status online, while internal dashboards provide supervisors valuable insights to optimize resource allocation.

4. Robust Reporting and Analytics

Data-driven decisions are critical. Track essential metrics like application volume, approval times, and standard compliance issues. Generate reports quickly for internal review and to promote public transparency initiatives. 

Analyzing permitting data might reveal an increase in solar energy applications, highlighting a trend for future zoning adaptations or targeted outreach efforts.

5. Integration with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Other Systems

Break down silos and streamline operations. GIS integration enables seamless zoning checks, property analysis, and visual overlays directly within the permitting software. 

Pull applicant data from tax systems or connect to external inspection scheduling systems, reducing data duplication and saving staff valuable time. 

Automatically verify property ownership against tax records to ensure the applicant is the correct contact, minimizing errors and potential fraud.

6. Security and Access Control

Government data demands robust protection. Choose permitting software hosted in a secure environment that adheres to strict industry standards (like SOC2 or government-specific certifications).

Implement fine-grained access controls to manage user roles and permissions, ensuring appropriate data access for staff and designated stakeholders.

7. Compliance as a Core Feature

Ensure a seamless and compliant permitting experience with built-in compliance checks throughout the process. This guides both applicants and staff, reducing errors. 

Offer enforcement tools to easily track open issues and remediation, minimize repeat violations, and protect community standards.

8. Dedicated, Expert Customer Support

Even the most intuitive permitting software occasionally needs support. Look for providers offering 24/7 availability from real people – not just chatbots. Ideally, you want support staff who understand the technical aspects of the system and the unique processes and regulations that govern your permitting operation. 

Consider a new staff member struggling with workflow setup during an unanticipated application surge. Dedicated customer support, available any time, ensures they can resolve the issue quickly and keep operations running smoothly.

9. Modular and Scalable Approach

Every jurisdiction has different requirements and budgets. Choose a permitting software built for adaptability. Start with the essential core features that meet your immediate needs and seamlessly expand over time. Add functionality like detailed code enforcement tracking, integrate with existing databases, or roll out the solution to additional departments on a customized timeline and budget. 

For example, a small municipality might initially focus on streamlining building permits. It could add modules for special events and business license management as it grows.

10. Accessibility for Applicants and Staff

An effective permitting system serves everyone in your community.  Look for a solution designed with accessibility in mind, adhering to standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). This ensures people with disabilities, like vision or hearing impairments, can navigate the software and receive essential information. Features to consider include:

5 Nice-to-Have Features for Enhanced Permitting Experiences

Low angle portrait of worker against sky checking their phone for permit information and status.

While the core features streamline essential operations, consider these advanced capabilities to unlock even greater efficiency and community engagement:

Applicant Self-Service Portal

Expand on online applications with a dedicated portal where applicants can track multiple permits, review inspection history, and access approved plans, all in one place. This offers transparency and convenience, especially for recurring applicants like developers and contractors.

GIS-Based Visualizations for Applicants

Provide interactive maps where applicants can visually explore zoning regulations relevant to their property, including setbacks, permitted uses, and overlay districts. This promotes understanding before they apply, potentially reducing incomplete applications.

Digital Plan Review Tools

Features like online markup and commenting tools facilitate efficient, paperless review, enabling departments to collaborate directly on submitted digital plans. This can cut down on printing costs and speed up review cycles.

Code Reference Integration 

Embed direct links to the permit form's relevant regulations, guiding applicants and staff. This reduces the need for searching separate documents, streamlining the process while minimizing errors due to misinterpretation.

Automatic Notifications and Reminders

Keep projects on track with customizable triggers for application milestones, upcoming inspections, and expiration dates. It minimizes communication overhead for staff and effortlessly keeps all stakeholders informed.

Why Choose Cocoflo’s Purpose-Built Government Permitting Software

Don't settle for off-the-shelf software that forces you to compromise. Cocoflo's permitting platform is built with customization at its heart. Start with the powerful core features that address your immediate needs and seamlessly add advanced capabilities at your own pace.

Here's what makes Cocoflo the smart choice for government permitting:

  • Built for Your Reality: We take the time to understand your unique workflows, challenges with zoning enforcement, and the need for accurate reporting. We'll configure the software to match your needs, not the other way around.
  • Adaptable as You Grow: Do you need to connect with a legacy tax database? Design a specific workflow for complex commercial projects. Launch an online business license renewal system? Cocoflo's modularity ensures your software scales alongside your operations.
  • Security You Can Trust: We understand the critical nature of government data. Our platform employs robust encryption and multi-factor authentication and adheres to strict government security standards (like NIST or FedRAMP, if applicable).
  • Unmatched Support: Real people are available around the clock to solve issues and offer guidance. Our team knows permitting – you'll get answers fast, not endless chatbots.

Is streamlining those complex building code workflows, integrating inspection scheduling for seamless coordination, or generating detailed zoning reports with just a few clicks impossible? Think again. With Cocoflo, it's possible. Book a demo today!

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