The world is rapidly becoming digitized, which makes many types of work easier. As times change, so does the way we all work and collaborate. This includes permitting, which makes eplanning the natural extension of the epermitting process. Let's explore what exactly eplanning is, how it can ease the plan review process and who can benefit from this revolutionary process.
What is eplanning?
In the construction and city planning markets, eplanning is the digitized version of traditional planning. Eplanning can take place on a cloud-based web platform and consists of:
- Real-time team collaboration.
- Concurrent reviews.
- Specialized markup tools.
- Document versioning.
- Defense against unauthorized plan changes.
- Optical character recognition.
With eplanning, you can make comments, mark ups, measure, stamp, overlay, side-by-side, and version control all in real time across every department. Whereas traditional planning would have you working with numerous copies of paper plan sets in varying locations throughout the office. All while having to wait your turn to complete your review assignment.
When and where does eplanning occur in the planning process?
Eplanning takes place on an eplanning platform. It happens after the planning application process and before a plan set submission using an online service. After the application is approved and a plan is created — which is a collection of planning documents such as land planning documents, maps and additional information — applicants (or other users) can utilize core functionality such as add amendments, leave public comments or mark up the plan. This all occurs on an eplanning service.
Why should you use eplanning?
Anyone who has worked in the permitting sector long enough understands how overwhelming getting massive stacks of paper plan sets can be! Not only are they heavy and cumbersome, but they are difficult to keep in order and can easily become mixed up depending on the size of the project. Some of you right now may be sitting on a stack of plans as you read this.
Other than getting back your comfortable office chair, eplanning offers several benefits that traditional planning simply can't do, including:
- Faster project completion.
- Real-time collaboration.
- Accuracy and compliance.
- Quicker document uploading and previewing.
- Streamlined communication.
Not only are there endless benefits to using eplanning, but Department heads also know the benefits from a leadership perspective. Since Plan Reviewers from several disciplines, internally and externally, have to communicate cross departmentally, being able to do this in real time makes the eplanning process more efficient and convenient than traditional planning.
Outside of the benefits of eplanning, there are simple functionalities within the platform that makes the plan review process 10 times easier than what is being done today. One of the best advantages of using a digital platform for plan review is how the software supports the use of Correction or Comment Letters. Everyone in the permitting world knows the challenges that can come with creating a Correction or Comment Letter while working on a project. e-PlanSoft has taken the frustration out of this process. Within the platform, all comments are combined into one simple letter eliminating paper trails and loss of documentation. Real time comments can be captured across multiple departments into one central location to create an accurate and detailed correction or comment letter. This results in speeding up the review process tremendously.
Another functionality which helps speed up the review process is the use of the Comment Box. With dozens if not hundreds of comments being added how can anyone find what they need. With the use of a digital comment box, Team Members can find specific comments quickly and easily. Not only can you effortlessly find a comment, but you can also view when the comment was made and by who.
An important feature which is beneficial to the eplan review process is mobility! With today's fast moving, remote working environments; being mobile is essential for most everyone to function on a daily basis. With traditional plan review, you don't have flexibility to come and go as freely as you do with digital planning. Since not all eplanning platforms are accessible through the cloud, you want to make sure this question is asked when you are entertaining the thought of expanding to include eplanning as part of your epermitting process. Some services have the added convenience of being web-based instead of requiring the installation of software. Eplanning — as part of the epermitting process — can act as a one-stop shop for an easy, quick epermitting process.
Who is eplanning for?
While eplanning is a relatively new idea, anyone who needs a construction permit can use it, including public agencies, private entities, and plan review consultants. It's been adopted in some countries such as Australia, as a popular option for the planning process. In New Zealand and in Australia's NSW government (which has its own proprietary NSW planning portal), eplanning is mandatory as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift appears to be permanent because eplanning is inherently superior to previous methods of planning. The U.S. isn't far behind, as eplanning is slowly but surely becoming more accessible and popular than ever before.
Eplanning is ideal for architectural, engineering, construction (AEC) companies and even universities; as well as state, county, and municipal agencies charged with code creation and enforcement.