We are excited to be hosting our Inspire user conference at the San Diego Mission Bay Resort this year! Our first conference since our merger, we are looking forward to sharing how we are driving development and innovation forward, as well as hearing your challenges. We want to inspire you, so this year on top of the best practice training, we are also bringing you a keynote speaker who has taken dedication to a whole new level.
Known as the Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence is the Guinness World Record Triathlon Holder and successfully completed his self-created challenge of 50 triathlons, in 50 states, in 50 consecutive days. His determination and quest to redefine the impossible is a story that inspires listeners to dream big and teaches that determination, discipline and teamwork is the way to achieve any goal.
Throughout the conference, presentations and training will be given from Avolve experts, as well as our partners, Vision33, Clariti, OpenGov and TruePoint Solutions. There will be opportunities for networking and speaking one-on-one with our experts, solution providers and partners. We will be giving insights on what we’re planning for our future and how we are addressing technology trends. We are excited to have the opportunity to celebrate our customers at the Avolve Award Dinner, which will be held right next to the gorgeous San Diego Bay.
We can’t wait to welcome all attendees in beautiful San Diego! Our user conference exists to ensure that we are providing the best solutions to help users build further process efficiencies, making your job easier!
Tickets are available until May 12, 2023! View details about the event, including the agenda here: Avolve Inspire 2023 | Avolve Software
As local governments navigate the challenges of the current global climate, many are turning to innovative solutions to build resilience. Our customers have told us that this is one of the reasons they have trusted Avolve to support their communities, utilizing our leading ePlan solutions.
Avolve’s electronic plan review solutions, ProjectDox and DigEplan, support local government to ensure they have have tools in place to efficiently serve citizens throughout the permitting processes. From effective plan review management and collaboration, to optimized plan markup, local governments can ensure that they have stability in their ePlan management with Avolve’s solutions.
Adding to a wealth of jurisdictions challenges, permitting demand remains high, but skilled workers are hard to find. So tools that allow local governments to increase efficiency and manage more projects with less staff are critical. Whether you are a small jurisdiction, or a mega city, we have a leading solution that works for you.
How can our solutions help resilience?
With plan review and management integrated into the permitting processes, agencies can streamline their review processes to improve the speed and accuracy during the review cycle. Yet, it is not only the integration that enhances efficiency. Avolve’s solutions saves significant time from enhance corrections management, tracking and monitoring of corrections, to multi-page file and sheet version management, among a vast number of other functionality.
Using a modern solution enables local governments to meet the challenge of managing a growing volume of permit applications, with no additional funds for increasing staff numbers. In fact, Avolve Software’s ePlan can help you to attract economic development, creating more investment in your community. This in turns helps to reduce the impact to budget and staff cuts.
One customer told us that Avolve’s solution attracts development to their city because it is so easy to do business with them; companies want to work with that city.
With specialized tools designed in partnership with our customers, Avolve Software’s ePlan is a powerful and versatile solution making it an ideal choice for any local government looking to improve its operations and serve their citizens better.
Interested to learn more? Have a look at our solution suite or get in touch.
Avolve in 2023 – let’s start as we mean to go on…
By Lance Clark, CEO
As we closed out 2022, I have been reflecting on the amazing journey that Avolve Software has been on this past year. We welcomed over 40 new customers in 2022 from North America and Europe and experienced a year-on-year growth of almost 20%.
Having combined two electronic plan review industry leaders back in March, we had a powerful technology combination that has proven to be a successful recipe…
Building our strength
Our customers tell us that they love our vision – we know jurisdictions can be more efficient and it is our job to support them with advanced digital solutions. This is why we invest more in research and development than our competitors.
Yet, we could not do this alone and our community is critical to our success. Our close-knit communication with our customers helps keep us on the right path, and our expanding partner eco-system is fundamental to providing integrated ePlan solutions and expert implementation.
We signed a further three new partners in 2022, as we believe that together we are stronger. A joint approach to solutions and delivery removes the barriers for jurisdictions, enhancing productivity and enables a collaborative success.
The common theme across our communities, both customers and partners, is that they believe that our people drive our differentiation. The determination, commitment, and passion that our employees have for this business has amazed me, and it is clearly evident to our communities.
The dedication to doing the very best job, is at the forefront of Avolve’s everyday – ingrained in the culture. This is going to a huge advantage as we encounter the challenges of 2023.
A year of uncertainty
As we look to the year ahead, many feel nervousness. The previous few years have shown us that not everything can be planned.
Amid continuing medical, environmental, financial, and political turmoil, the world needs to keep turning and, in our universe, plans will be submitted, and permits required. What we can do is ensure that we have processes and systems in place that can weather the storms.
Digitalization has proven to be vital in times of uncertainty. Electronic plan review is one area that has been historically vastly under-resourced – but recent years has demonstrated the enormous headache that this can bring.
Some are now reaping the rewards of increased process efficiency enabling them to cope better with less staff or manage the influxes of permitting applications. Others are finding it easier to recruit and retain employees with higher staff satisfaction. And above all, jurisdictions are benefiting from attracting commercial development and enhancing their citizen’s experience. We know that working in partnership going into 2023 that we can support with effective electronic plan review that aids community development.
I very much wish everyone an awesome year – let’s hope we can ride the waves and achieve some amazing things together!
Would you ask your receptionist to close that critical contract? Or ask your marketing manager to run the technical support desk? While both may surprise you and be fully capable to do the job, it is not their trained role, and it is likely that things will be missed.
Now let’s look at it in the context of managing your permitting processes. Many jurisdictions have IT departments that look after their technology stack and have for years done so successfully. So, why are so many local governments moving away from on-prem solutions to SaaS?
The main answer is simply security. SaaS providers are experts in their systems. They live, breath, drink the solutions day in, day out. So, when it comes to managing the security and maintenance of these critical systems, you really want them involved.
At Avolve we have been working in electronic plan review for decades. We have seen the difference in downtime and number of issues raised between customers who are on-prem, compared to those on a SaaS solution. Not only is the security enhanced because we can apply the critical updates and patches to the system as required, but we also constantly maintain and evolve the solutions.
Minimize plan review downtime
This hands-on support through a SaaS model ensures that we can address issues swiftly, minimizing any downtime for those departments involved in the permitting process. In addition, we also offer live chat support for all our SaaS customers.
Looking at our support ticket numbers for our on-prem and SaaS customers, more than two-thirds come from our on-prem customers, a large portion due to environmental server-based issues. Having partnered with Microsoft and invested in their Azure SaaS environment, means our Azure SaaS customers have benefited from no system downtime – enabling them to continue to effectively serve their citizens.
Changing digital management
The digital world has reinvented how we engage and interact as human beings. Technology changes once approached with caution, are now considered to be the norm and recent years has seen an influx of digital tools that have overwhelming benefits.
The public sector has always maintained a more guarded approach, especially because they are trusted with personal data. However, security is a critical advantage of SaaS, which ensures those routes into the jurisdiction are heavily guarded and robust. The security benefit alone vastly outweighs the reasons not to move.
Contact us to find out more.
Being a customer-centric company, we wanted to develop a better user experience by finding new, easier ways to interact within DigEplan. At Avolve, we consider user experience and user interface to be a core component in our electronic plan review solution, and therefore, have added the following enhancements to strengthen DigEplan’s functionality:
- Improved visual grids for quicker loading times and a cleaner look
- Enhanced toolbar icons for easy navigation
- Batch editing which is a new feature that enables users to edit multiple cells simultaneously
- Correspondence side panel where users can display messages more freely throughout the plan review cycle with its collapsing messaging panel
Avolve Software prides itself on working with existing customers to enhance functionality, understand workflows and processes, and simply improve our offering. This ensures jurisdictions are investing in a partner that supports their choices and empowers them to work more productively.
Find out more about DigEplan.
To complement Avolve’s best-in-class in-person training offerings, we are thrilled to announce the launch of the Avolve Learning Center! The Learning Center offers role-based training for ProjectDox that is self-paced. Our inaugural offering is the Foundation Package. This package covers all fundamental aspects of using ProjectDox and includes distinct training modules for three key plan review roles: plan reviewers, coordinators, and system administrators. While each module includes a standard learning plan, learning plans can also be tailored to individual users.
The Avolve Learning Center is intended to complement our personalized in-person training program and helps to ensure that users are maximizing the benefits of ProjectDox. It enables customers to:
- Address the training needs of all ProjectDox users, including new and existing employees, as well as those with different roles in the plan review process
- Learn at their own pace
- Customize learning paths
- Access training material at all times
- Simplify new employee onboarding
- Quickly and efficiently learn about new versions and features of ProjectDox
- Provide certifications to employees who complete assigned modules
- Access reporting and analytics for progress tracking
Beyond the Foundation Package, the Avolve Learning Center will soon offer system upgrades, new features, and more advanced topics. Next to be released is additional certification levels with videos that dive into the tools intended for intermediate users. Subsequent enhancements will include expert-level certifications and training on advanced tools and techniques.
The Avolve Learning Center is offered as an add-on for new and existing ProjectDox customers who may purchase licenses for their employees.
For more information on the Avolve Learning Center and how to make your ProjectDox training efforts more efficient and cost-effective, contact your account manager or get in touch.
We are excited to welcome Jeremy Raulinaitis to the Avolve family as our new Chief Experience Officer. He has over 15 years of experience in the Technology Industry and, after spending five years in corporate interiors and construction, decided to follow his heart back to technology. We wanted to know Jeremy a little better…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I received my undergrad degree and MBA from Utah State University (Go Aggies!) and spent 14 years at Spillman Technologies where I met and worked with Lance, Avolve’s CEO, as part of his executive team. I oversaw our customer services division for 11 of those years. After Spillman was purchased by Motorola, I took the opportunity to completely switch industries and, for five years, oversaw operations for a company that specialized in large scale corporate interiors and construction. I am a techie at heart though, so I have been very excited to get back into software.
On a personal note, I am married to Danielle and have a daughter, Ellie, and two sons, Korbin and Karson. We live in Herriman, Utah and enjoy boating, snowboarding, backpacking, and mountain biking.
What are some of the barriers you have seen to good customer experience?
In my opinion, the biggest barrier to customer service is when a company doesn’t understand that great customer service is the goal of all employees and not just one group. Aligning everyone in this goal helps to break down barriers between departments and creates synergies in customer strategy.
What is your vision for the customer experience at Avolve?
I believe that the ideal customer-vendor relationship should be based on a mutually beneficial partnership. Each succeeds when the other is successful. It is important that both the company and the customer understands this. I also believe that we should explore solutions to issues when they arise and that “no” should never be the first answer. A mentor once told me to treat your customers like your friends. I have always taken that to heart, and it has served me well.
How do you measure success?
There are many measurements of success and I like to be very data driven in looking at those measurements. However, if I had to pick my all-time favorite measurement of success it would be employee satisfaction. I truly believe that taking care of your employees and giving them a great place to work is paramount to anything else and it makes all other successes possible.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
Personally: Maintaining a successful marriage and raising three amazing kids.
Professionally: Finding great success and relevance across multiple industries.
What has been the biggest lesson you have learned in your career?
To always be honest. Trust is something that can take years to build and can shatter in an instant. Once you have lost it you may never get it back. Best to not lose it.
What is the best piece of professional advice you have received?
I don’t know if I have a singular piece of advice, but my favorite business book is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babbin. They are two former Navy SEAL leaders that adapt lessons they learned in the SEALs into the business world. Some of their ideas, including utilizing the indirect approach, and taking ownership of situations have been huge to me.
What is your favorite part of the job so far?
Definitely getting to meet and know new people.
If you could master any sport, which would it be?
Soccer is my favorite sport, so I am tempted to go with that, but I think I would choose golf.
If you could fly anywhere in the world for lunch, where would you go?
My daughter is currently living in the Czech Republic, so I would fly to Prague and take her to lunch.
What animal closely resembles your personality?
This is the hardest question! I actually found and took a quiz for this and it spit out owl, so there you go.
Welcome Jeremy to the Avolve team!
Digital transformation is now an imperative for the public sector. Local government must do more with less, so becoming more innovative is essential to eliminate repetitive, low-value tasks.
In November 2021, Forrester predicted that ten percent of government administrative tasks will be automated in 2022. Yet in such a short timeframe that is a vast number of systems to overhaul and not all public-sector implementations go smoothly – in most organizations two out of three transformational initiatives fail.
Most organizations encounter the same challenges and basic underlying narratives that destroy their transformation efforts. Successful introduction of new technology and systems into the complex public sector, requires an effective blend of technical capabilities, leadership, and good organizational skills.
Transformation is inevitable and even with the right capabilities it takes time, yet citizens services must continue while change occurs. So how can governments achieve this while using legacy processes to carry on with business as usual?
Spread success with champions
Champions are champions not because they do anything extraordinary but because they do the ordinary things better than others. Innovation is a complex, company-wide endeavour, so having the advice of innovation leaders can be hugely beneficial.
When bringing in new technology, interacting with industry peers offers a creative and insightful way to understand the problem, solution, and get impartial advice. By speaking to industry peers who have undertaken then same challenge, local governments can confidently embrace new opportunities, with clarity. There is not a ‘one size fit all’ solution. But utilizing the industry experts you are able to develop coalitions for the best chance of succeeding.
Recently we shared a stage with Jared Gerber, Assistant Community Development Director, Sandy City, UT. He offered government agencies insight into a 12-year digitalization program, and how they updated and standardized their internal processes to enhance department communications and visibility on projects. They moved from their legacy permitting system to a new system that would be utilized by all the different departments, allowing for better planning tracking, permit tracking, and later electronic plan review.
Presenting his perspective on the situation allowed other agencies to understand how to prevent potential problems, such as internal resourcing, so they were able to have the bandwidth to carry on with normal day-to-day activities. They also demonstrated the pros of implementing both Cityworks PLL and DigEplan electronic plan review simultaneously to reduce disruption. Learn more about their journey.
Implementation: Work smarter not harder
Implementing new technology whilst operating business-as-usual can be daunting. There is the added pressure of risk and uncertainty that accompanies testing innovations in real-time with participants, all while being responsible for keeping existing operations alive. The uncertain aspects of this endeavor feel all the more acute under the pressure of deadlines and the eyes of evaluators.
For ease, start thinking about the implementation process during the exploration and research stages. In addition to speaking to champions about their experience, with software, there are different types of integrations and implementation processes that can impact the speed and ease of deployment.
Avolve Software has tight integration with over twenty government platforms and is second-to-none. The seamless integration removes complexities, such as plugins and additional processes, improving on the traditional lift and shift approach. You can find out more about integration types here.
Our network has a broad range of expertise to help with enhancing plan review processes with minimized disruptions.
Training and retaining
Employees are an organization’s most important asset, so implementing the new solution is just the start of the journey. To retain talent and see long-term success, employees need to be able to use the solution effectively, therefore quality training and education for employees is essential.
This should be considered as early as the research phase, understanding the complexity of the software, and matching to the skillset of the users. Ask yourself; does the solution have an intuitive user interface, or will my employees need months of training? Each solution will be different, take some time to weigh it up. Employees must see a clear benefit to both the citizen experience and their workload.
The right solution will add intelligence to processes, Avolve Software’s electronic plan review solutions provides transparency, efficiency, and ease with its rich functionality. For example, it helps with low-value tasks, such as moving paper plans from office-to-office and multiple versions of plan sets to look through or identifying issues for the applicant to resolve at the point of plan submission.
With an easy-to-use interface, Avolve Software provides planning and building officials full visibility of the planning process, with compare and overlay for any changes and real-time comments.
Jared from Sandy City shares, “Staff were continuously impressed with the ease and intuition. The overall design and ease of use were phenomenal, especially the help menu.”
This ultimately speeds up the permitting process boosting employee morale and citizen experience. Based on a McKinsey report speed, simplicity and efficiency are key elements of the interaction process with government which pays for overall citizen satisfaction.
“Excellent customer service has always been a priority. We consistently achieve our plan review goals of under 10 days for commercial plans and under five days for residential plans.” Nidia Logan Robinson, Deputy Division Director, Division of Planning and Development, Memphis and Shelby County, TN. Read about their five-year road map to digital success.
Over the next few years, forward-looking governments will focus on finding solutions that truly enhance citizen and employee experience.
For a deep dive into Avolve Software’s electronic plan review solutions, contact our team for a live demonstration. To learn more about the new ‘Citizen Era’ read our blog.
UI & UX central to Avolve Software’s development
Digital enhancements have soared over recent years as the public sector grappled with the need to continue to service citizens and improve efficiencies. A much-needed change for the sector, yet it should not just be about productivity and process requirements. The user experience, for both citizens and employees, is fundamental to adoption and success.
By 2025, Gartner predicts that over 50% of government agencies will have modernized critical core legacy applications to improve resilience and agility. This will allow jurisdictions to tap into data to drive customer experience and employee experience initiatives. However, training on systems to retain talent, due to the rapid acceleration of digital transformation, is one of the top concerns for local governments (GovTech).
So how can governments balance the citizen experience and efficient process, alongside inspiring employee loyalty?
Employee retention – the technology impact
With digital transformation revolutionizing jurisdiction processes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the key to employee retention lies in the technology. If employees feel competent and can do their role proficiently, they feel less frustrated and know they add value. New technology should always include effective employee onboarding, but it should not just be about training.
The selection criteria for new technology should not just be based on functionality and price – sure they are significant factors, but they are wider considerations in the mix. Outdated technology will cost you. It is often slow, involves 10 more steps than is necessary, and have cumbersome processes.
On top of that, it simply creates frustrated employees. The truth is your company needs to implement new technology that is modern and intuitive.
The solution chosen must have direct benefit to the employees: Is this going to save time? Is it easy to use? Employees should see potential and long-term success; they will expect the technology to automate the daily grind of tedious tasks and streamline processes, overall improving their job.
This can be considered as early as the research phase, understanding the complexity of the software, and matching to the skillset of the users. Critically – Does the solution have an intuitive user interface, or will my employees need months of training?
User interface – driving employee satisfaction
Why consider user interface and user experience when choosing software? The experience that your employees, and indeed your citizens, have in using your agency tools, plays a vital role in their satisfaction.
The usability of the software and visual appearance, influences employee behaviors. This includes the look and design of the application for every screen, button, and page. If it’s engaging, clear and easy-to-use, employees will quickly adopt the technology.
At Avolve, we consider user experience and user interface to be a core component of the electronic plan review solution. Avolve electronic plan review solutions alleviates frequent pain points in usability, and we remove mundane administrative tasks with automation within the permitting process. Importantly, the easy-to-use interface ensures employees require very little training and resources.
“If your staff has used desktop PDF mark-up tools, they will know how to use the same basic functions. Our staff learned very quickly, which enabled us to swiftly provide the plan review service to citizens without losing much time.” Scott Wise, Chief Plans Examiner at Oklahoma City
“Staff were continuously impressed with the ease and intuition of DigEplan. The overall design and ease of use was phenomenal, especially the help menu.” Jared Gerber, Assistant Community Development Director, Sandy City
Quantifying the user needs: user experience
The right solution needs to understand the processes and workflows of various internal users. It’s crucial to define the user, such as planning, building officials, engineering, support administrators, etc., so the solution meets their specific needs.
At Avolve we have taken the time to understand technical constraints, such as integration (you can read more here) as well as the business objectives, such as enhanced citizen experience and efficiency, as well as the user’s needs, and reduced administrative tasks. We know this also changes over time, so our team continually evaluates and improves to maximize the overall experience for all users.
Avolve works with existing clients to enhance functionality, understand workflows and processes, and simply improve our offering. This ensures jurisdictions are investing in a partner that supports their choices and empowers them to work more productively. Now just imagine how that would shape the employee experience. Learn how our user-focused functionality has helped governments across the globe.
Technology is crucial in transforming a business and becoming a place where employees want to work and would like to stay. Invest in your employees and give them the best tools to get their work done efficiently. Learn more about how Avolve’s Electronic Plan Review helps improve administrative tasks for employees and enhances the permitting process. Contact us.