For every building, structure or dwelling, the necessary permits, applications and design schematics must be approved by the relevant government entity prior to project execution – this phase is the plan review process.  

Government Municipals have often been stigmatized as the last place efficiency abounds – until now.  Governments are searching to create a better system or automatic workflow that is more interactive for their patrons and applicants. They’re looking to get away from storage costs, to get away from paper trails, printing, and wastes. There finally is technology to create a paperless office and at this point, it’s just a matter of embracing the new technology and providing the training and encouragement for new business practices. Saving money and time, improving the security of documents and increasing customer satisfaction.

Cities like Irvine, located in Southern California, are creating cross-department teams focused specifically on reducing paper use throughout the organization. Meaning, departments like their Community Development Department are tasked with going all digital for plan reviews, basing a new system off digital PDFs, and they did so by implementing eplansoft REVIEW™ into their existing online portal system.  

Winning the RFP that was originally announced on June 21, 2018, the City will be using eplansoft REVIEW™ (EPR), the industry-leading, cloud based collaborative platform for team based design review, permitting, inspection, and sit assessment, Irvine’s Department of Community Development unlocked the potential of a paperless system and another step into a Smart City.

To help address the culture shift that would arise from going from paper to electronic and how the implementation of a cloud based electronic plan review document management system will positively impact the permitting process by moving to EPR,  The City of Irvine invited major developers, architect and engineers to attend one of three presentations that were held to introduce them to the cities review software provider e-PlanSoft ™ who presented and answered questions about the new system prior to them going live later this quarter.  Attendee’s included: Terri Moss, Senior Director of Community Development at The Irvine Company and Irvine Pacific; Kristi Blanchard, Owner at KB Processing; Scott Wilson, Principal at Wilson Mikami Corporation; Doug Johnson, VP of Community Development at Stantec; Rob Holland, Permitting Coordinator at Stantec; Afshin Shahidi, Project Manager at Hunsaker & Associates,  Dane McDougall, President/CFO at C&V Consulting, Inc.; Brian Neves, Principal at Basseniam Lagoni; Jeff Roach, Senior Project Manager at Basseniam Lagoni; and Daniel Ramirez, Survey Technician at C&V Consulting, Inc., FIVEPOINT developers and Building Industry Association of Orange County Members.

Attending on behalf of The City of Irvine were: Pete Carmichael, Director of Community Development; Kim Mohr, Manager of Communications, PIO; Craig Reem, Director of Public Affairs and communications; Victor Kao, S.E Principal Plan Check Engineer, Community Development; Kamlesh Chitalla, Chief Building Official; Amy Roblyer, Senior Management Analyst; Cheryl Williams, Senior Permit Specialist; and Brandy Powers-Payne, Permit Specialist II.  

Presenting on behalf of the ePlan team were Michael Chegini, President CEO; David Avila, National Sales Director; and Sean Hooper, National Account Manager.

The meetings went over the following:

Challenges

  • The City of Irvine was given a directive to go paperless for reviews and submissions; getting rid of paper was a culture shift.
  • Plan applications and review document formats were not standardized or trackable.
  • Submittals, reviews and approvals took too long, with no standard process in place for internal or external review.

Solutions

  • eplansoft REVIEW™ was chosen as the review software for electronic plan review because of the advantages their software solution had over other providers:

      • AWS/ Cloud – No Software to install for  Agency Staff or Applicants
      • Real time online Collaboration
      • Public Portal Options
      • PDF Inspector (SCOUT)
      • Configurable Permissions
      • Configurable Assignment Distribution Workflow
      • Plan Check Management System – not just markup tool
      • Comment Management
      • Searchable engine with comment library
      • Project Management Dashboard
      • Automated notifications
      • Easy to use easy to train

  • After consulting with potential clients to best meet their needs, PDF was chosen as the only acceptable file format for submissions and reviews and EPR comes with two solution advantages to help with the inspection of the PDFs so that workflows are smarter. 
      • eplansoft goPost: a provided portal for upload of documents that communicate securely with project teams and
      • Scout PDF Utility Tool: which inspects and analyzes incoming documents for compliance with defined minimum requirements. 
  • Using EPR allows reviewers and clients a chance to use markup tools and the markups list, keeping them in sync and working on the most current documents in real time. From submittal to approval.

“The use of EPR and paperless review has attracted quite a bit of attention in the region,”  said David Avila, National Sales Director for e-PlanSoft. “We often host impromptu Demos with other agencies, IT departments, planning directors and plans examiners who want to come see what we’re doing. Even other departments within the county want to see what we’re doing and how the use of EPR will impact and improve the process for them, because they want to apply it to their work. It’s really having an impact, showing the power of this efficiency, and how it can really help both how we review, and really in the end, how it can affect all our customers.”

If you’d like to attend one or want to schedule a private demo please feel free to set it up at info@eplansoft.com.