In 1900, Redlands, California, was a popular winter retreat for wealthy industrialists, and a major orange producing area. Today, most of the orange groves have been replaced by development, while the city still maintains its small-town feel. Home to the University of Redlands, and Esri, the world’s leading GIS software company, the city has grown to nearly 70,000 people.

Like most cities, it became apparent that more efficient means would be needed to handle the permitting and development process. Redlands selected Cityworks Server PLL to replace their existing building permit system and paper-based development process. Extending their existing Cityworks asset management system, PLL was chosen as the program that would be used to tie the permitting, planning, and development processes together across six city divisions: Planning, Engineering, Building & Safety, Utilities, Quality of Life, and Fire.

The first step in the implementation was to develop workflows for current processes. The Planning, Engineering, and Building & Safety departments were each tasked with creating flowcharts for their areas of responsibility. Eighty-four different permits were brought into Cityworks.

After the workflows were created, Cityworks’ Project Manager came to Redlands to train staff on the workflow modeling process. Entering workflows and customizations was the responsibility of the GIS division of the Department of Innovation and Technology, supported by the Cityworks Project Manager remotely and on-site. As workflows were entered into Cityworks, division staff reviewed the proposed process and suggested necessary changes.

After the workflows were completed, fee structures were added. In all, 252 fees were added to Cityworks, imported directly into the SQL database.

The next step was to create a unique combination of fees, case data, and workflows. The process involved setting up base templates and then configuring subsequent templates. This saved staff considerable time and maintained a similar format across all templates. Many templates share workflows. For example, Agricultural Preserve Removal and Concept Plan Amendment both follow the same steps and are able to use the same workflow.

The system was then opened to end users for testing and further input. During this process, city staff began streamlining workflows. Users also helped identify an array of reports such as key performance reports for managers.

As setup neared completion, the end user training plan was initiated, which included a short course specific to managers and more in-depth sessions for daily users. The training included a system overview followed by how-to guidance for general use, search and report, and inbox features. Focused training was provided for specific permit and license workflows. Departments migrating from the paper-based systems were most excited. Instead of searching through countless paper files, they could now find the information in moments with Cityworks. Those transitioning from the previous permitting application appreciated the Cityworks user interface, especially the seamless GIS integration and the unique ability to easily attach parcel information to the permit.
Following training, users went into parallel testing mode. Permits were entered in Cityworks and the old systems simultaneously to make sure fees were being calculated correctly and reports were coming out all right. After two weeks, they were ready to turn the switch on Cityworks PLL.

In keeping with the initial plan, all six divisions are now using Cityworks PLL to track their business processes. Planning, Building & Safety, and Engineering are managing permits and licenses while Fire, Utilities, and Quality of Life use Cityworks to keep track of their plan to review permits issued by other departments. The city is already planning to further deploy.

By Tom Resh, GIS Administrator, City of Redlands, California and Raj Patil, Project Manager, Azteca Systems, Inc. — Cityworks