Electronic Plan Review Q&A

The following questions were included in a formal Permitting and Land Management System Request for Information from a city of about 62,500 residents.  Read our responses below for more information about Electronic Plan Review features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

And to see this feature in action, check out our Document Markup Tool on a PC video.

1.5     Electronic Plan Review

1.5.1. Describe your solution’s EPR capabilities. Please include how payments are made, the ability to automatically screen and route plans to the appropriate examiner, version management, archiving, and document recovery.

Citizenserve Response: Contractors can submit documents on the online portal.  Fees can be charged in various ways for plan review activities.  Payments can be made online and invoice and accounts receivable processes can be set up.  Plans are routed via the workflow routing features in Citizenserve.  Unlimited storage is provided as part of the subscription.  Bluebeam integration is available.  We typically recommend a project-based approach to deciding which tools to use.  If the architects and engineers are using Bluebeam on a project, then go with Bluebeam on that project; if it is a small project and an owner/builder, then maybe the built-in tool is best.

1.5.2. Describe the solution’s Plan Review capabilities, including the plan scheduling and routing process.

Citizenserve Response: You can create customized workflows that mimic your plan review process and digitally track plan review status and comments. Each application type can have a specific review route or workflow route, and each workflow route can contain different activity types and assignments. An unlimited number of activity types can be created in Citizenserve. Each activity can have a specific form or custom fields and template outputs. A review activity can be completed and a template email sent to the contractor or other people involved in the project. Alerts can be set on parcels, applicants, and permits.

Citizenserve has robust and flexible Electronic Plan Review tools to enable professional, engineering-level reviews. Our review tools include tools to measure areas and linear distances and accurately scale drawings. The Electronic Plan Review tool supports electronic plan comments by adding notes, standard comments, highlights, measurements, and other annotations.

1.5.3. Describe the capability to track and log the location of one or multiple sets of archived hardcopy plans associated with a permit or project.

Citizenserve Response: We can create a custom field to track this information; all custom fields are available for search and reporting.

1.5.4. Describe the solution’s markup-up tool’s capabilities in detail.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve has robust and flexible document markup tools to enable professional, engineering-level reviews. The markup tool is fully integrated with your workflows and Citizenserve’s document management. Our review capabilities include tools to measure areas and linear distances and accurately scale drawings. The document markup tool supports electronic plan comments by adding notes, standard or custom comments, highlights, measurements, stamps, and other annotations.

Display the comments and annotations of all reviewers, or display individually by reviewer. You can also choose to show specific comments and marked-up plans to applicants in the online portal at any point in the review process, enabling applicants to start addressing issues immediately.

The markup tools also aid in code enforcement and inspection by enabling the mark up of photos to highlight trouble areas and add related comments and annotations.

Citizenserve Response: Below are links to video demonstrations of the markup tool:



1.5.5. Describe the capability to track and review comments.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve’s markup tool enables comments to be entered and displayed by different users. A user can choose to only display his or her individual comments, or can select specific users, whose comments will then display.

Each department can setup their own review and inspection comments with different categories and features.  Comments can be inherited from higher level departments or the organization also.

1.5.6. Does the tool easily identify before and after corrections?

Citizenserve Response: The browser and device independent JavaScript tool set we use for the markup tool supports a side-by-side and overlay comparison.  This feature is being added to Citizenserve this year.  Bluebeam integration is also available and Bluebeam has side-by-side and overlay comparison features.

1.5.7. Does the solution store building code catalogs and easily incorporate them into plan markups or associated notes?

Citizenserve Response: Yes, and maintaining the building code catalogs is included in Citizenserve’s unlimited support. Common comments and corrections are available with the review activities and available directly in the markup tool.

1.5.8. Describe the solution’s copy and paste functions.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a browser-based application and supports all browser features such as copy and paste.  There are also handy features built in, such as the ability to copy comments from an inspection into a re-inspection for a checklist for that activity.

1.5.9. Provide a simple workflow diagram for the solution’s EPR process. The diagram should depict the end-to-end range of the EPR lifecycle from the plan application process, the uploading of drawings, pre-log process, fee payment, the plan review, building permit fees, the stamping and release of plans through the final plan download.

Citizenserve Response: The following is a detailed video demonstration of a planning and zoning implementation in Citizenserve.


1.5.10. Describe the EPR solution’s interdependencies and interaction with the greater application plan review process.

Citizenserve Response: EPR is built-in and integrated with Citizenserve, it is not a disjointed add-on feature.

1.5.11. Does the tool EPR solution support communications between the customers and the plan reviewer? Describe the process of alerting customers of plan status including red lines and unfinished permit applications.

Citizenserve Response: Yes, a plan review report can be sent out to the customer and the report and associated markups and comments can be viewed on the online portal in a list form and also on the plan documents.

1.5.12. Describe the solution’s capabilities for alerting plan reviewers, project managers, and other stakeholder’s status information. Describe the standard status reports or dashboard capabilities.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve’s flexible workflows can be configured to send automatic notifications when tasks are completed, due dates are approaching or have passed, etc. Inspectors are notified of inspections due and pending applications with required inspections. Notifications can be assigned for public notices and legal advertisements based on the hearing dates selected. Notifications can be in the form automated letters, emails, or both. Below is an example of a User Notifications and Assignments screen for the Permitting module.

Sample Citizenserve User Notifications and Assignments Configuration Screen (Permitting)

There are a variety of standard status reports, and Citizenserve’s unlimited support includes the development of an unlimited number of custom reports. Citizenserve provides multiple dashboards to enable your users to quickly obtain the information they need, and can configure other dashboards as part of our unlimited support. The user dashboards are flexible and configurable, and can be configured to meet the specific needs of individual users filling different roles. For example, an inspector may choose to configure a dashboard with a calendar showing inspections due, sorted by due date and priority, while a supervisor may choose to include information on past-due inspections and total inspections completed for the department on his or her individual dashboard.

Below is an example of a dashboard for an inspector, as viewed from his iPad:

1.5.13. Describe any file name or character limitations.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve uses contemporary internet technologies such as HTML5 and JavaScript with an architectural and design goal of remaining browser and device independent.  Any file name or character limitations that exist in contemporary internet technologies will also apply to Citizenserve.  To date we have not experienced any issues from customers regarding these limitations.

1.5.14. Describe any unique feature functionality that sets your solution apart for the uploading of documents.

Citizenserve Response: Unlimited storage and submittal requirements can be defined in the application form and put in the relevant application sections.  Each submittal button or requirement can specify what document types are acceptable (PDF, JPG, etc.).  Submittal requirements can allow only one document or allow the uploading of multiple documents.  The document markup tool is available directly from the application forms with the submittals.  The document markup tool is built-in, device and browser independent, and available to all users.