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Mahlon

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Apr 3, 2024
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Hi, I'm an ICC Certified Permit Technician based in Colorado. I've been implementing electronic plan and permitting review improvements since Covid, and am now working on digitizing our entire Community Development Department. If anyone has any experience with e-plan review and its processes please let me know!
 
Welcome Mahlon! My office started going electronic in 2015 as the costs of storing decades of paper files really started adding up. During COVID we began only accepting electronic submittals, which pretty much made our transition to a fully electronic office complete.

I'd be curious what central software system you're currently using for file storage and e-plan reviews? We switched over to ProjectWise in 2016 as part of our effort to go fully electronic. I think we switched to ProjectWise primarily with our planners and engineers in mind, but the cloud-based collaboration benefits definitely extend to our permitting reviews/approvals as well. What's particularly useful about ProjectWise is how it assigns an internal link to every document stored in the cloud database. As government employees we need to save every single email that anyone ever sends/receives, which means that sending multiple versions of large attachments back and forth via email can really eat up storage space. When requesting internal reviews/approvals or disseminating reference documents across groups of employees, we now share the files via ProjectWise links instead of emailing the file itself. You can imagine how this saves tons of cloud storage space because there's only one instance of the file instead of several versions distributed across multiple email accounts. It's also cleaner in terms of having only one copy of a document that gets updated in the cloud, rather than having multiple outdated versions floating around people's inboxes like we'd have before.

Anyways, that's our electronic storage system in a nutshell! I'd be curious to hear about the e-plan improvements you're currently working on for your department.
 
Hi Eric, thank you for the Starbucks gift card and ProjectWise sounds awesome! We use SmartGov as our permitting software and Laserfiche as our records database and OneDrive to send large files. However we will be utilizing Bluebeam Revu and Studio for e-plan review and file storage (currently going through training as I am not too familiar with how Studio works). What permitting and e-plan software does your jurisdiction use?
 
Thanks for sharing! I wouldn't go so far as to call ProjectWise awesome (lol) but there's definitely a logic to it compared to our old system of emailing attachments back and forth. We're still teleworking four days/week and for whatever reason I'm always having problems signing into ProjectWise over my VPN connection. Whenever the software is being finicky, I often end up just emailing the documents and moving on. Responsiveness of software tools really does matter, I think...slow loading software can really kill whatever momentum I have going on a project.

Just to clarify, I'm a regulator with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, so I handle federal permitting under the Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbors Act, which generally doesn't involve detailed plan reviews. We like to see drawings and incorporate into the permits, as a way of communicating exactly what we're authorizing, but our analysis is generally higher-level and concerned with environmental effects (e.g., NEPA, 404(b)(1), Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act). I imagine my colleagues over in Engineering Division use some sort of e-plan software for their Section 408 reviews but I don't really know.

And you're very welcome for the Starbucks gift card! I'm trying different things out in the name of reaching more people and inspiring more discussion among permitting professionals and the regulated public. I'd encourage you to post under one of my "Starbucks threads" as well...I've got a bunch of these digital gift cards and am hoping to give away more :).
 
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