The New Plan Review: 3 Keys To A More Efficient Process

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Facing piles of plan sets to review is a great indicator of your community’s health. Sensible, well-designed growth means more community amenities, jobs and tax revenues. Speed of review and ease of plan submission can be a selling point for your community. It can be a magnet for criticism, particularly from private sector partners who are trying to get fast approval. Even the cost of submitting projects for review is scrutinized as local economic development advocates look for ways to improve the climate for business.

These are not new challenges, but recent economic difficulties have made every potential new project and potential business expansion seem crucial. The pressure is on to complete reviews, but with reduced staff, it is hard to go faster or even go as fast as you did before. With complex projects, just trying to go faster might mean missing something critical.

If your community is facing this dilemma, or is just interested in overall process improvement, electronic plan review solutions often referred to eplan review or eplan software may offer a promising tool for reviewing and approving these projects more effectively.

Consider the key tools offered by these solutions:

Self-service portal for paperless submissions

Try this new way of engaging with your submitters: Use an electronic portal and add it to your existing community website. Submitters can submit electronic versions of their plan sets and use this same site to monitor the status of reviews and pick up marked-up plan sets and response letters. They can also resubmit revised plans and pick up approved plan sets the same way, saving them thousands of dollars in paper plan set costs.

Tools to make the jump to paperless

The tradition of paper plan sets makes sense in some situations, especially for larger projects. But today’s plan viewers have tools that can speed reviews by making staff more efficient. Being able to zoom, calibrate, measure and more with keystrokes and mouse-clicks using large monitors eliminates moving back and forth between plan sheets. Plan viewers can note your mark-ups and comments and even let you see your colleagues’ comments in real time, fostering the collaboration you need to complete the review. Once plans are resubmitted, the plan viewer has a compare tool that colorizes the changes so you can quickly see whether required changes have been made and notice changes that were not requested – without flipping through pages and pages. This tool is a game-changer for faster reviews of later submissions.

Process transparency

If your role involves coordinating reviews and ensuring that they meet your goals for a timely process, you’ll love how going paperless changes your life. Plan review solutions offer dashboards so that coordinating functions, review assignments and status of reviews for all projects can exist in a single, project-centric screen. Assignments, timers and notifications are driven by a workflow engine that can match your review processes. This same internal tool automatically updates the submitter’s portal so that they can check on their submissions 24/7 without having to call. Process transparency begins with going paperless and electronic plan review solutions take that to another level when they are paired with a robust workflow engine that can update and manage notifications and routing of work. If you are facing a need to be more efficient, electronic plan review can meet this overall goal. To be effective as you move forward, these key functionalities will help you make the leap. And by dumping the paper and the associated costs and time, your review department more effectively supports the development of your community.

For information on how an enterprise content management system can benefit your community, contact CASNET today.

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