Plan Check Software

Dear Management Doctor:

Thank you very much for the webinars! You have peaked my interest in so many areas of our profession and how it relates to "management" that I am trying to decide what to explore first! Your timing couldn't have been better on the permitting process yesterday. Our Planning Department has been cut in half due to budgeting issues. Basically as individuals retire, the Town has opted not to replace them. The three of us left have less combined experience working for this Town than the Clerk that retired! Last night our Planning Board had a lively debate on the merit of the 8+ pages of conditions we include for Site Plan approval resolutions. I suggested to the Board that we should go out to the sites previously approved to see if the potential impacts were adequately mitigated, if the conditions had any relevance on the development, and if what we were worried about wasn't really anything to be worried about. What a concept! We focus so much on the beginning of the process, we never go back and scrutinize what we allowed to be built.

So thank you very much for all your insight. I'm thirsty for more!

You mentioned plan checking software. Do you have any suggestions that I could look into?

Thanks for all your expertise!

Katie Evans, Planner
Town of Penfield

Dear Katie:

Glad you enjoyed the Webinars. Here are a few ideas on the software.

Avolve Software's Project Dox product is a major supplier in the US. They have a pretty impressive and long client list that includes: State of Idaho; Maricopa County, AZ; Clark County, NV; Atlanta, GA; Salt Lake City, UT; Osceola County, FL; Bend, OR, several counties out here in Maryland and most recently Washington, D.C. and now Portland, OR. We understand they are in discussions with State of Michigan as well.

Two of ProjectDox's prominent features are its checkin/checkout and workflow management capabilities. In many respects, these features overlap with the capabilities commonly found in permitting systems, so don't be drawn into attributes that you don't need or will be in conflict with your permitting system.

We are working with some new permitting software (Innoprise) that one of our clients has purchased. The software vendor told us that they're coordinating with Avolve to integrate ProjectDox with their software.

Hansen software has an interface with ProjectDox. We were told that Accela Automation was working on an interface but has now abandoned that project in the hope of creating plan check software of their own.

The only thing that comes close to ProjectDox may be Autodesk's "Design Review."

There are also a number of document markup systems that rely of Adobe Acrobat's professional markup and editing capabilities, but I think they're in a different league when compared to the products of vendors that specialize in plan review.

Some jurisdictions are using Adobe software with markup capabilities.

The State of Ohio architects office uses an Access Data Base.

Enterprise Info Matix is another software choice, but to our knowledge does not tie into any permitting software system.

Also, there are some state government agencies using a product called BlueBeam.

I tried Google and came up with "idtplans.com." I don't know them but they claim they are the best.

A product called "e-PlanReview" was recently shown at the California Building Associations conference but unfortunately we did not have time to review it. It is a web-based system.

There are several other software vendors working on products that have not yet hit the market place. As planning and building departments move to the paperless office, we are likely to see a variety of new products. I will be interested to see if any will be on display at the APA New Orleans conference.

We have several bids out to help move organizations to paperless. As soon as we snag one, we will do some more serious research on the alternative software.

Best wishes,

The Management Doctor

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