New London Connecticut is a city, set in a beautiful coastal backdrop. They are steeped in history, dating back to 1646. And they are making big strides in their business practices.
Felix Reyes, Director of Economic Development and Planning, was looking to streamline the citywide office business processes. He wanted to eliminate the archaic paper-based business practices. As well as improve communication between departments. Furthermore, improving the service they were providing the public. And he was looking for the right technology to help him do that.
Vernon Skau, Fire Marshal for the City of New London, had been using Codepal since 2006. “We purchased Codepal to efficiently complete inspections. Over the years this has transformed into a data collection system. Tracking all activities taking place at a property.”
FIRE MARSHAL NEW LONDON, CT
Vernon has been with the Fire Marshal’s office almost 17 years, he has been Fire Marshal for 4 of those years.
Vernon works closely with New London Building Official, Kirk Kripas. They have mutual respect and good communication between their departments. Kirk and Vernon were talking about improvements to their process and how to remove any bottleneck procedures. Notably, an excel spreadsheet that was emailed back and forth with permit approvals. The process was inefficient and created a bottleneck.
Codepal was discussed and soon placed in the building department budget. Fast forward three years and the purchase was still waiting on budget approval.
Purchasing a solution
When Felix was hired in March 2018, he began formulating a plan to tackle issues they were facing. “Our Fire Marshal uses Codepal and loves it. Vernon highly recommended it” says, Felix. The budget was passed and Codepal was purchased in 2018. “I was most interested in improving the interface between our building department and zoning.” As a result, the purchase was for the two additional departments.
Changes are not always bad
“The biggest change I’ve seen is the communication lines have been opened between the departments. Good and bad, but there is no more silence. They are communicating and I hope this continues to get easier and smoother over time.” says Felix.
Vernon noted “Since Kirk came on board, I can now see all building related permits and inspections. In the middle of the night, when I receive an emergency call, I can learn about the property instantly- permits and inspections all available for me to see. This is a time saver. Now we share a unified database.”
Kirk agreed with “the efficiency of how tasks are handled and researching permits is speedy and clear.”
This isn’t to say there were no speed bumps. “The staff wasn’t sure of themselves after training. But over time, knowledge has improved and has aided in the unsteady feeling from staff” notes Felix. “Codepal was always accessible and that was important to us. They were always available for a phone call anytime.”
Kirk agreed, “They have been very responsive. Issues are resolved quickly. It is nice to pick up the phone and talk to someone instantly. The customer service has been incredible.” This is a key component to their success. Uncomfortable staff had the support needed to embrace the change and gain comfort in their knowledge.
On the positive side, Vernon says the service has never changed, “It has been impeccable from day one, all the way back to 2006. Sometimes I feel like their only customer with how responsive they’ve been.”
Advice for other cities looking to make this type of change.
Streamlining business practices from paper records to electronic processing can boost your city’s performance and profitability. It is a turning point for many cities.
Felix’s has some advice for those looking to make the change. “Be prepared to help your staff push through any growing pains. Put your house in order first, your processes must be in place before expecting software to fix it. You have to be in it to win it and have the mentality to commit and stick with it.”
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