Successfully streamlining business practices – One city’s story.

City of New London

Successfully streamlining business practices – One city’s story.

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
Felix Reyes
DIRECTOR OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND PLANNING NEW LONDON, CT

Felix has been the Director or Economic Development and Planning since March of 2018.

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.”

Vernon Skau
Vernon Skau
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.”

Whale Tail Fountain
New London’s Whale Tail Fountain on the Parade Plaza.

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.”


Click here for more information about our City Wide Solutions.

City of New London, Connecticut website


Fire Prevention Staff

From paper nightmare to electronic efficiency

Norman Loudermilk, the Assistant Fire Chief of Terre Haute Fire Department knew after search nine months for a fire inspection; things needed to change.

Our entire operation was kept on paper, we had nine filing cabinets housing fire inspections based on the month they were completed. There was no backup, no data management and no checks and balances. It was poor record keeping at best. Furthermore, business owners could change business locations and we had no way to track previous violations; no way to track trends in their multiple locations or trends in a single structure after multiple businesses occupied it.

Nine months to find a previous inspection report

In one incident, we had a fire hazard reported at a business. It took nine months to find the previous inspection. We found that sometimes old inspections were thrown away. In addition, signatures of owners were not required on inspections, which left us to wonder in some cases if inspections were done.

This was unacceptable. We needed accountability and a better way to serve our community. I searched the web for software companies and quickly became overwhelmed. It felt like a large undertaking. While attending a NFPA Certification class in Lafayette, Indiana; I spoke with Fire Marshal, Brian Alkire about my frustration and he told me about Codepal. After several discussions and seeing their reports, I visited the Codepal website. I was ready to make a change, I just needed the right tools.

I met with Lafayette Fire Department and the Codepal sales staff. Lafayette’s department is a mirror of ours, so I was able to see the software used in a real environment, not a boxed demo. I liked the Lafayette set up, but felt the investigation piece was lacking. I was sold when I heard “Tell us what you want, and we’ll provide it” by Codepal sales staff. Why recreate the wheel, just make it better? We purchased a pre-designed Lafayette’s set up and worked with the Codepal staff to design an investigation piece that suited our needs. The collaboration between departments and the ability to share ideas on how to use the software has been a bonus.

Quote from article
Codepal helped us get on the right track

We went from 3000 business inspections in nine filing cabinets to everything on the server available on 3 surface pros’. I have access to every inspection based on business or owner and I can see all the details of any given inspection. It’s cross referencing and easy to use. With Codepal, it’s like Terre Haute Fire, take two. We’re building what we want, the way we want it. We’re collecting signatures in the field electronically and emailing reports instantly. This was imperative to verify every inspection is done. Customers are happier, and it has increased our visibility in the community. We’re able to complete our tasks quicker and we’re inspecting every property. Our department went from an average of 2 inspections a day/ 710 businesses annually, to 16-20 inspections a day*. We are looking at adding a new inspector and have the evidence to back up the request.

We are approaching the one-year mark of using Codepal and reaching our first round of next annual inspections. I suspect these numbers will increase now that we have the initial inspections set.

Quote from article

Codepal gave us a system with checks and balances and keeps us in line with the law. Our Investigation reports have been challenged in the court system and held up. Everything is in chronological order and stood up against scrutiny making convictions easier.

Codepal’s #1 selling point, outside the software, has been their support staff. From sales to support, the staff is outstanding. We’re able to call when we have any questions or changes. Laws change and processes change, Codepal is always able to help us make the necessary changes.

*based on an average day with no fire investigations

Norm Loudermilk – Assistant Chief

Terre Haute Fire Department
Terre Haute, Indiana

Norm Loudermilk
Norm has been the assistant Fire Chief for 16 months. He has 11 years of experience with the Terre Haute Police Department, 17 years’ experience with the Fire Department and has served 20 years on the City Council.

Congratulations to the Fire Prevention Bureau on being named Fire Prevention Division of The Year for the State of Indiana by the Fire Inspectors Association of Indiana. The award was given at annual conference banquet in South Bend.

error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

RSS
Facebook
Facebook
LinkedIn
Skip to toolbar