We are thrilled to share that ViewPoint has been acquired by OpenGov, the leader in enterprise cloud solutions for government budgeting, performance, communications, and reporting.
A New Chapter
As some of you may know, I co-founded this company 24 years ago with the goal of providing cutting-edge technology to local governments. Since that time, we have helped lead a revolution in the quality of government software, and ViewPoint Cloud is now the leading permitting and licensing solution on the market.
Since its founding in 2012, OpenGov has been on a mission to provide modern, integrated, end-to-end solutions that power effectiveness and accountability for government. We have known and admired OpenGov for a long time, based on their market leadership, attention to the customer, mission-first approach, and the quality of their technology. We could not be more excited to join with them.
This would not be possible without the support and confidence of our customers. Some of you have joined us just this year, while others have been with us for over two decades. To all, we say thank you. Thank you for having the confidence to invest in our company and for sharing our vision for what’s possible to achieve in our communities.
Together, we are paving the way for a new era of government technology–raising the industry standard for products and services, and reimagining what it means for governments and the technology sector to be in true partnership.
What Does This Mean for our Customers?
Joining with OpenGov provides us with access to more personnel, resources, and technological capacity to better serve you and drive effectiveness for your organization. You are joining now with over 2,000 governments leveraging OpenGov to power more effective and accountable government and usher in a new era of innovation.
In the coming days and weeks, we plan to share with you more about OpenGov’s full budgeting, performance, and communications capabilities and how they can complement your use of the ViewPoint Cloud.
What Does This Mean for our Company?
The full ViewPoint Cloud staff is now part of the OpenGov family. Our employees join with the over 220 OpenGov employees building and going to market with the best technology for government. We are excited at the opportunity to share with and learn from this talented team and have already started the process of aligning our processes and solidifying our joint product roadmap.
We cannot overstate our excitement for this new alliance and our gratitude for your continued partnership. We hope to continue serving you for years to come.
Sincerely, Nasser Hajo CEO, ViewPoint VP Permitting and Licensing, OpenGov
Thanks to technology, modern life is becoming increasingly efficient. Companies like ParkMobile provide apps for parking to help you avoid waiting in a queue (or worse, paying with actual coins). Shopping services like AmazonFresh will deliver household items to your door on a predetermined schedule. And now, ViewPoint Cloud has even improved local government services by bringing the entire permitting experience online with customizable automation software.
But as with any new technology, it’s crucial to understand how adoption comes into play. Technology can’t work unless people first understand it, and then utilize it. That’s why we’re sharing strategies from two different cities using technology help kiosks inside of city hall to increase constituent adoption of ViewPoint Cloud’s permitting automation technology.
What Is a Technology Help Kiosk?
A technology help kiosk can be a simple computer, laptop, or table designated solely for constituents to use online city services.
By design, kiosks are inexpensive and instructive, offering an astoundingly practical solution for time-strapped teams (which is to say, all teams in local government). They can be self-service, but more often are utilized as a way to guide customers through certain transactions or processes.
The concept isn’t new—they’ve been used in airports, grocery stores, and parking structures for decades. The application for providing access to new software to all constituents, however, is a genius example of how far dedicated public servants are willing to go to ensure everyone in their community has equal access to emerging technology.
Why Use of Kiosks is On the Rise in Local Government
For many communities considering bringing permitting processes online, one of the major hesitations in making the investment in ViewPoint Cloud is whether or not community members will understand how to use the public-facing storefronts to submit permit and license applications. Technology help kiosks offer the simplest path to adoption with two major benefits. First, they increase technology equity by assisting populations with limited access or comfort with technology. The City of Wooster, Ohio, for example, sits 50 miles south of Cleveland, just north of Holmes County, which contains “the second largest Amish community after Lancaster, Pennsylvania,” according to Tim Monea, Chief Building Official.
“There are a large number of Amish contractors using ViewPoint Cloud via the kiosk in our department lobby. Additionally, there are others who ask for assistance and want to use the kiosk,” Monea shares.
The Town of Bolton, Massachusetts, with a population size around 5,000, uses the kiosk similarly. “We offer our kiosk to any applicant who doesn’t have access to a computer, has travelled into Town Hall in pursuit of a permit, or is uncomfortable with technology,” explains Jenny Jacobsen, the Town’s Health and Permitting Assistant. “I can sit with applicants to help them get acclimated.”
Jacobsen is in charge of assisting community members with permit applications. She acts as the point-person for constituent questions for their specific project needs. Which brings us to the second major benefit of kiosks: they reduce staff time spent on troubleshooting, while increasing constituent satisfaction. “Constituent feedback has been very positive,” says Jacobsen. “The best part about our kiosk is that our door doesn’t become a dead end. You can still accomplish what you came in for in the first place.” Monea agrees that in Wooster, Ohio, “nearly all of our customers leave our lobby happy and appreciative of the personal assistance.”
“It is like training wheels. They’ll be riding on their own two wheels before they know it.”
Tips for Making the Most of Constituent Interactions at Kiosks
Before you rush off to implement a kiosk program, both Monea and Jacobsen shared a few pieces of sage advance to help ensure success.
Tip #1: Just because you have a kiosk, doesn’t mean constituent questions will stop.
Be sure to have a dedicated staff member who is comfortable with how the technology works and can patiently answer constituent questions and troubleshooting needs. In Wooster, OH, Monea attributes the success of the kiosk to having the right person in seat to walk constituents through the software and answer project-specific questions.
“The critical component is having someone assigned to assist customers who walk in and want to use the kiosk,” explains Monea. “We have an administrative assistant whose responsibility is assisting these customers with the kiosk, scanning submittal documents, as well as helping customers calling in with ViewPoint Cloud questions.”
“It’s not just the kiosk; it’s the person who is helping them use the kiosk to get their task completed. These two things go hand-in-glove.”
Tip #2: The goal of the kiosk should be to reduce usage over time, but don’t expect usage to stop completely.
The old managerial adage, “Make yourself obsolete,” applies here, meaning kiosks should empower individuals to utilize ViewPoint Cloud’s public-facing application portal on their own, once they become comfortable with the technology.
“While our in-person customers have dramatically declined, we have daily users on the lobby kiosk,” shares Monea. Jacobsen agrees. “While I hope it will enable everyone to become comfortable enough to apply from home, I remind them that they are always welcome to use the kiosk,” she affirms. “I have a few contractors who do come in regularly.”
Tip #3: Leverage kiosks to incentivize “going green” after making the commitment to fully digitize permitting.
Back in 2017, the City of Wooster, Ohio decided to eliminate all paper processes for permitting across their Building, Planning, and Zoning Departments. Today, they do not allow paper applications or construction documents to be accepted. “At the outset we were committed to putting all of our workflow processes in the cloud using ViewPoint,” explains Monea. This includes “all plan reviews, permitting and inspection questions, reports, and other related tasks.” Therefore, kiosks have been vital in making the leap to get all stakeholders on board.
While the Town of Bolton, Massachusetts hasn’t fully eliminated paper applications, they now assess a fee for permit applications where filers insist on using paper forms. “Use of the kiosk is free,” Jacobsen shares, which incentivizes individuals to utilize ViewPoint Cloud’s public-facing application portal instead to save some money.
The new adaptation of technology help kiosks is perhaps one of the best examples out there to highlight the spirit and character of local government leaders. You care deeply about your constituents and seeing the communities you share grow and thrive. Ultimately, you are there to help. And this strategy allows you to help all constituents—business owners, developers, entrepreneurs, and others—approach permitting, licensing, and code enforcement applications with cheer.
Ready to transition to digital permitting? Ask us how.
The ViewPoint Cloud office has been ablaze with excitement as we near #ELGL19. For this year’s conference, we’re sending a first-time attendee, Tom Crosby, and we thought it would be fun to have him sit down with our resident ELGL veteran, Rachel Keyser, to chat about the upcoming event.
Deploying new solutions and services to better support constituent needs remains a difficult task in government today, but strategic project management and communications can make all the difference. With the help of modern GovTech partners, leading local governments are tackling these challenges because they recognize the operational and fiscal benefits to both employees and community members.
ViewPoint Government Solutions is thrilled to announce that the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) in Hartford, Connecticut has signed a contract extension with ViewPoint through 2023. With this agreement CRCOG will continue to offer Connecticut municipalities streamlined procurement of ViewPoint Cloud, the company’s cloud-based permitting, licensing, and code enforcement software. Originally signed in 2009, the extension will usher in almost 15 years of continuous service to Connecticut communities.
Last month, some of our favorite people at ELGL (Engaging Local Government Leaders) reached out to their community to help fund a ‘Diversity Dashboard’ project.
The goal is to “collect quality data about the race, gender, veteran status, and age of local government Chief Administrators (CAOs) and Assistant Chief Administrators (ACAOs) for every local government entity in the United States by December 31st 2017.”
Using cloud-based software is standard practice for modern industries and most consumers, yet many local governments have still not fully understood and adopted this technology. That’s why we teamed up with the folks at ProudCity to talk about the benefits and best practices around adopting cloud-based software in local government.
We know that saving resources by making smart, long-term investments is a top priority for local governments. With the widespread availability of modern, cloud-based software, local governments are starting to find that they can get more out of their technology and provide better services while spending less.
Just a few months ago, my team and I were introduced to Kirsten Wyatt, Executive Director of ELGL. After a few emails back and forth, we knew the ELGL community was one ViewPoint had to be a part of. In no time, we found ourselves sharing content with each others’ subscribers and even planning a joint podcast featuring Dan Ralley of Upper Arlington, OH (another conference attendee!) on Customer Service & ePermitting.
For the third installment of our Year of the Citizen webinar series, we sat down with National Research Center Founder & CEO Thomas Miller. Having worked in and with local governments for over 35 years, and co-authored two books on the topic, Miller is a citizen survey expert. In this webinar he shares insights into designing and conducting surveys, as well as how to use data to catalyze actionable change in local governments.
Despite the contemporary erosion of facts, it’s impossible to run large organizations – private or public – without credible observations about what’s happening and, separately, what’s working. Performance measurement helps with both and can be as deliberate as Baldridge Key Performance Indicators or as impromptu as “How’m I doing?” made famous by once-Mayor Ed Koch’s ad hoc surveys of random New Yorkers. Metrics of success, like compass readings, keep the ships of state on course and because the enterprise is public, make the captain and crew accountable.
We are excited to announce ViewPoint’s place on ELGL’s Choice Awards for the Top 50 Local Government Companies. ViewPoint joins 49 other companies providing local governments with services in software, research, urban planning, civic engagement, and budgeting, among many others. More than 40 awardees (including ViewPoint) are “GovTech” companies, part of a rapidly growing industry of technology companies serving the public sector.
Here are a few of the GovTech companies on ELGL’s list that are helping revolutionize local government:
ViewPoint has partnered with civic engagement platform SeeClickFix to make managing citizen interactions easier than ever before. Thanks to this partnership, communities can seamlessly manage their SeeClickFix requests with ViewPoint’s industry-leading government automation tools.