In this Sponsors in Action series, we’re highlighting Dude Solutions, a UNITE sponsor who is helping local government communities with inefficiencies in workflow.
One local government that has exhibited great success in updating and streamlining process, specifically during this time, is the city of Mount Vernon in Washington with a population of 35,000.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor of Washington instituted a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” initiative that basically encouraged a shelter-in-place order. Over the last few years, Mount Vernon’s team has been working to streamline their operations across the board, making them more mobile, accessible and efficient. As a result of the work they have done, they were more prepared than most to quickly pivot to operating remotely. In less than 24 hours, they were able to transition to a work-from-home concept that has allowed them to continue to serve their community without missing a beat.
Mount Vernon had a few original pain points with the city’s facility operations being documented with spreadsheets, a server-based system and emails, leading to inefficiencies with workflow and a tedious work order process. They had no central place to house information. When someone needed to retrieve something, it was a process of scanning emails, finding the right spreadsheet or tracking down someone who simply had corporate knowledge of the issue.
Some of their biggest inefficiencies were around permitting. The server-based system they inherited lacked much of the capability and reporting city staff required, so it didn’t get used very much.
Also, there was no day-to-day work order process, preventive maintenance was nonexistent, and facility renewal plans occurred when systems became inoperable and in disrepair. Finally, the entire staff was in a reactive maintenance mode and couldn’t deliver their desired level of customer service. The team was stuck in survival mode.
They needed operations management software that would assist them to track work orders; institute preventive maintenance, energy and facility renewal programs; improve permitting workflow processes; and accept permit applications electronically. Thankfully, they found what they needed with Dude Solutions’ maintenance and community development products.
Speaking on what has changed, Chris Phillips, development services director in charge of overseeing planning, building, engineering, GIS and facilities departments, lists, “enhanced record management, permit metrics, time to complete, customer/applicant permit transparency. Also, electronic bill pay. In six months, over 90% of all financial transactions occur online. Inspections are completed more efficiently and effectively, because inspectors have mobile offices in each city vehicle, plus a cell phone or tablet to conduct inspections. And customers get immediate updates on all permit processes, if they desire. Same with code enforcement cases. It is very easy for me as the supervisor to review what my staff has completed, and the notes functionality allows for immediate response to the city council, mayor or applicants. And on the electronic bill paying piece, we went from a few thousands of dollars a month to hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.”
Mount Vernon’s facilities and permitting teams now have enhanced record management, enhanced customer service and significantly improved performance metrics. Through the streamlining of all their processes that can be found in a centralized location and system has improved communication, documentation and overall job efficiency.
They have embraced transformation and transitioned from a team just trying to address normal daily operations to one that can flourish during challenging times like the pandemic by operationalizing software, previously planned emergency operations that incorporate telecommuting, utilizing Skype for inspections, establishing a FTP site for permit tech document review and launching Zoom as a meeting protocol.
Dude Solutions is a leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider of operations management solutions to government organizations both large and small. For 20 years, Dude Solutions has inspired clients to create better work and better lives. We combine innovative, user-friendly technology with the world’s smartest operations engine, empowering government operations leaders to transform the most important places in our lives. Today, more than 1,700 municipalities use our award-winning software to manage maintenance, assets, energy, safety, IT and more. For more information, visit dudesolutions.com.