Coquitlam is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in British Columbia, and home to nearly 150,000 people (based on the 2019 census). To better serve their community, city staff wanted to modernize how applications are handled, shave time off the weeks-long application process, improve customer service, and capitalize more effectively on available resources.
Coquitlam was using an Excel checklist to compile emails and track communications. While this process helped pre-generate email text, it did not go as far as the agency needed it to. The city sought a digital solution to streamline its manual application processes to save the agency valuable time and serve the community more efficiently. This innovative project would result in Coquitlam winning the 2022 Granicus Digital Government Tech Trailblazer Award.
Approximately 6,600 hours per year saved
Reduced processing time by up to 20 person hours per cycle
reduction in time between application submission and first letter issued
Modernizing Processes to More Effectively Serve the Public
Coquitlam’s existing process was similar to what other local municipalities were doing to serve the public, but the city wanted to improve and update the way its applications are handled. The city took a closer look at its methods and wanted to implement some changes to modernize its processes. This initiative fell under the development application process review program, a high priority for city council, the development industry, city staff, and residents. Coquitlam was already using govService/AMANDA7 — the city’s EDMS system (CEDMS) — for other projects, so the staff wanted to ensure they could configure the system for this initiative as well.
A Feature-Rich System to Address Challenges
The city wanted a feature-rich solution leveraging its existing software solution, AMANDA7. Project leaders spent time at the start of the initiative engaging with internal staff to understand individual pain points to better plan the project. Once these issues were identified, the city determined how to best use the AMANDA system to meet the challenges. This project caused the agency to reinvigorate its use of AMANDA and it now has dedicated staff to use the system to its full potential.
The agency configured the AMANDA system to digitize the application process, addressing the feedback compiled from internal stakeholders and system users. Between development, testing, and deployment, the entire project took over two years to roll out, but the city is confident the new processes are thorough, consistent, modernized, and effective.
“We have been empowered to question every process and not accept the status quo. That’s allowed us to think creatively about how we use the tools that we have and really think about how to improve things in a meaningful and intentional way.”
Zoe Mlcoch, Business Services Manager, City of Coquitlam, British Columbia
Improved Processing Time and Quicker Responses Boosts Customer Service
The city of Coquitlam realized substantial time savings by modernizing their application process. Digitizing workflows helped Coquitlam save about 100 hours per project and reduced processing time by up to 20 person hours per cycle. The city estimates this project saved them more than 6,000 hours per year.
Anecdotally, residents benefitted from improved customer service because of the new digital processes; the agency is now able to provide applicants with quicker responses and more accurate cost estimates. The city is now looking to the future and planning to build an online application portal to continue its positive impact on customer service.
“The first step [in digitizing workflows] is mapping out existing workflows, processes, and pain points. Then figure out what sort of improvements you would like to make, what direction you want to go, and what your end goals are. Make sure that from beginning to end, you have a direction and goal in mind.”
Kevin Hebert, Systems Analyst, City of Coquitlam, British Columbia