Category Archives: RFP Question

Citizenserve General Technical Features 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 general technical information about  Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

2.1.1. Describe your software licensing model.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is only offered on a subscription basis.

2.2.9. Provide details on what browsers, browser versions are supported and what Windows operating systems are supported.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is device and browser independent and can be used on any modern browser.

2.3     Servers and Databases

2.3.1. Describe the server environment required for your solution.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.

2.3.2. Describe the server minimum specifications (e.g., OS, RAM) needed for each of the required servers.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.

2.3.3. Describe the database versions, and patch levels supported as of January 2020. Include a sequence of preferred databases supported by the vendor based on the most stable and best performing platform for the solution.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.  End users can use any device and any browser to access the software.

2.3.4. Describe any database CPU and memory resource requirements. Include an architectural diagram that illustrates the database architecture.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is only offered as a Software-as-a-Service solution; the City will not require additional hardware or databases. We do not share diagrams of our database architecture for security reasons.

2.3.5. What are the file standards for database server files?

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a multi-tenant cloud-based Software-as-a-Service solution.  No server hardware or software is required.

2.3.7. Please provide any installation documentation or standard operating procedures.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is provided as a Software-as-a-Service solution; the Citizenserve staff maintain and support the application and database.

2.4     Integration and Service-Oriented Architecture

2.4.1. Describe the solution’s ability to support single sign-on using an on premise and cloud Active Directory to authenticate employees/users.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve supports the use of Active Directory for authentication and will provide integration to the City’s Active Directory for an additional fee.

2.4.2. Describe the solution’s import/export feature capability at the application level (above the database layer) and through the application interface.

Citizenserve Response: All reports can be exported to a CSV or PDF file format.  Imports are usually accomplished through SQL scripts and need to be customized based on requirements.

2.5     Software as a Service

2.5.1. Please describe in detail the company’s policy for handling the customer’s intellectual property.

Citizenserve Response: We only work with State and Local Government jurisdictions.  Customers own their data in all cases.

2.5.3. Describe the availability of metrics for the City of Redmond to measure consumption of services, such as bandwidth.

Citizenserve Response: The Citizenserve subscription includes unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, unlimited processing and unlimited support.  We can provide reports on data size or setup monitoring on the City IP address, but we do not use the information for billing purposes.

2.5.5. Describe the options available for exporting data from the SaaS solution for external interfaces.

Citizenserve Response: The City can request and obtain a copy of its data at any time and there is no charge to get a copy.  The copy is provided in Microsoft SQL Server format.

2.6.6. Provide the SLAs for system availability.

Citizenserve Response: From inception Citizenserve has been a pay-as-you-go subscription and a 99.99+% up-time has been maintained for 17 years.  Any customer recourse for unacceptable service is subscription cancellation.  We have never had a customer cancel a subscription based on system availability or performance.  Our customers are not locked in to multi-year contracts.

Web Services 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 some of the Web Service features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.11   Web Services

1.11.1. Describe the capability to provide web-based self-services, including the ability to allow customers to submit, track, and pay for services (inspections/permit information for example) and access their respective information (i.e., permits, plan review, inspection) online.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve provides a configurable and customizable online portal that allows citizens, contractors, and businesses to participate electronically in the processes of permitting, code enforcement, inspections, licensing, and requests. The portal can be configured as a link off of the City’s website.

  • Planning and zoning applicants can submit applications, attach plan documents, check on the status of an application, and pay application fees through the online portal.
  • With Citizenserve permitting software your contractors, architects, engineers, and property owners can apply for a permit, upload digital plans, schedule an inspection, pay application fees, and check on the status of an application online.
  • Citizens can report possible code violations and check on the status through the online portal. You can communicate with your citizens effectively and efficiently by using Citizenserve’s automatic notifications, automated letters, and email templates.
  • The Citizenserve online portal enables businesses seeking licenses to submit applications, schedule an inspection, upload copies of required documents, pay application fees, check on the status of an application, and download approved License Certificates and ID cards through the portal.

One critical feature in Citizenserve is the ability to set User Notifications and Assignments for each permit, license, and case type so staff and departments are notified when citizens, contractors, and businesses take action on the portal. For example, if a staff member requests a revised plan document, the notification matrix will let the staff member know when the document is uploaded.

1.11.2. Does the solution allow custom branding (City of Redmond logo, for example)?

Citizenserve Response: Yes.

1.11.3. Describe the ability to generate online permits for simple projects that meet defined criteria including data validation.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve supports flexible workflows that incorporate data validation; we can easily configure a workflow for simple permits that generates the permit online based on specific data validation. If the City elects, the online portal can be configured to enable the contractor to download and print the permit.

1.11.5. Describe the integration into the solution including the ability to process multiple payments or partial payments for both permits and invoices.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve can collect a single payment and apply it across multiple permits and/or invoices. Partial payments can be configured as part of the payment process; for example, requiring plan check fees to be paid up front. Multiple payments can be applied and tracked, with custom reporting available to show detailed historical payment information at the invoice level, permit level, or both.

1.11.6. Does the payment solution allow for guest checkout options?

Citizenserve Response: This depends on the payment processor that the City decides to go with.  Most payment providers provide for a checkout process that does not require “registration” or an account with the specific payment provider.

Financial, Cashiering, Fee and Payment Processing 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 some of the cashiering and financial features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.9     Finance

1.9.1. Describe the solution’s capabilities to create, manage, secure, and report (ad-hoc and scheduled) on financial transactions.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve enables the implementation of complex fee calculations, and the maintenance of fee schedules is included in the subscription. Fee schedules can be end dated. To enable payments, we integrate with a customer’s payment provider(s); we do not store credit card information. All data in the database is encrypted, and web services using HTTPS or TLS encryption with authentication are used for communicating with external systems like payment processors.

Payment information, accounts receivable information, and other financial information can be sent to the City’s financial system via a web services integration, or through the creation and upload of a daily batch file.

Citizenserve has a standard suite of financial reports. We will develop any custom report to meet the City’s requirements as part of Citizenserve’s unlimited support.

1.9.3. Describe how payments are processed and posted.

Citizenserve Response: We integrate with the City’s payment processor(s) and do not store credit card information. Successful payments are recorded in Citizenserve, and associated balance due fields are updated. Unsuccessful transactions are also logged for follow-up.

1.9.4. Describe the refund process.

Citizenserve Response: User roles can be set up to take and modify payments. For refunds, payments are reversed in Citizenserve; this data is then passed to the City’s financial system via an integration or report, and the City’s financial system would process the refund.

1.9.5. Describe any financial controls the system provides.

Citizenserve Response: There are various configuration options to implement business rules in Citizenserve.  Conditions are often used to enforce business rules; for example, payment must be made before a permit is issued.

https://www.citizenserve.com/business-licensing-software/citizenserve-online-cashiering-services/

1.9.6. Describe the period/year end closing processes and financial reporting capabilities. Provide a diagram where applicable to illustrate the end-to-end process.

Citizenserve Response: Period and year end closing processes will be handled in the City’s financial system. Citizenserve will integrate with the City’s financial system via web services to pass AR, payment, and refund information. We we can create any kind of custom reconciliation report for the GL and/or Refunds.

1.9.9. Describe the solution’s integration possibilities with Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Citizenserve Response: We can integrate with Microsoft Dynamics 365 using custom web services or any available APIs. Citizenserve’s technical architects will be responsible for developing the code to send data from Citizenserve or accept data into Citizenserve; if an API is not available, the City’s resources will be responsible for developing the code to send data from Microsoft Dynamics 365 or accept data into Microsoft Dynamics 365.

1.10   Impact Fees

1.10.1. Describe the capabilities to manage and track impact fees, credits, and payments.

Citizenserve Response: We have great flexibility in configuring impact fees to meet the business rules of our customers; there is no “one size fits all” approach. Examples of impact fee calculations include basing the impact fee on meter size, tying the calculation to entries made from checkboxes and/or drop-down lists, other automatic calculations, or manual entries by staff. Staff can add credits to a customer’s impact fee, or credits can be calculated based on overpayments (if overpayments are allowed); credits can be carried on the permit and applied to the next payment.

1.10.2. Describe the capabilities for spatial integrated functionality for tracking impact fee information in specific geographic area.

Citizenserve Response: An unlimited number of custom fields can be created for properties and permits.  The fee table for each permit type can easily incorporate the custom fields into fee definitions with no programming.  Impact fees can be based on anything on the permit application or any property information.  Typically, property information will contain the necessary information about the location or GIS integration will provide the relevant information necessary for impact fee calculation.

Online Zoning Software 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 some of the Zoning features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.6     Zoning

1.6.1. Describe the solution’s capabilities to process citizen’s applications, track zoning, and land use processes.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve planning and zoning software completely automates the process of application, review, routing, resubmittals, and public notification. Applicants can submit applications, attach plan documents, pay application fees, and view the status of their applications through the online portal. Applications are automatically routed to the appropriate reviewers based on your workflow routes. Plan reviewers have access to searchable electronic reference materials including building code handbooks, GIS layers, and property history.

You can track due dates for public notices and legal advertisements based on the hearing dates you select. You can easily build your plan review reports by selecting comments from custom libraries of review comments. We will build the custom libraries of comments during implementation to include comments associated with the City’s building, fire, and other codes, and will maintain the libraries as part of our unlimited support. You can electronically comment on plans with the Electronic Plan Review tool by adding notes, highlights, and other annotations. Through a flexible and user-friendly interface, Citizenserve helps keep your projects organized and on schedule.

1.6.2. Describe the solution’s capabilities to generate hearing and public notices.

Citizenserve Response: We create a wide variety of hearing and public notices; all templates are developed custom for the customer, and can include any fields from Citizenserve. You can track due dates for public notices and legal advertisements based on the hearing dates you select

1.6.3. Describe the solution’s capabilities to schedule meetings and hearings. Describe how the proposed solution integrates with Outlook to share this information with internal staff and external customers, including the ability to check resource calendars for availability.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve has built-in calendaring that is browser and device independent.  Activities in Citizenserve can be sent to the user’s work calendar in Outlook or Google via the built-in calendar integration feature.  Two-way custom integration is also possible using Exchange Web Services.

1.6.4. Describe the solution’s capabilities to store and report on case information, hearing results and pending case information.

Citizenserve Response: A complete case history and status can be maintained in Citizenserve, including hearing results and any pending case information. We will identify required reporting during implementation, and will build custom reports to meet the City’s requirements. The City can decide which information to share on the public portal so that relevant parties have access to current case and status information.

1.6.5. Describe how the land use management capabilities of the zoning application flow into the plan review process in terms of addressing any related parcels?

Citizenserve Response: Plan reviewers have access to searchable electronic reference materials including GIS layers and property history. You can easily build your plan review reports by selecting comments from custom libraries of review comments. We will build the custom libraries of comments during implementation to include comments associated with the City’s building, fire, and other codes, and will maintain the libraries as part of our unlimited support. You can electronically comment on plans with the Electronic Plan Review tool by adding notes, highlights, and other annotations.

1.6.6. Describe the solution’s capabilities to attach PDF or Word documents to zoning applications. Can multiple files be attached to the applications? Can links be provided to an external document management system?

Citizenserve Response: Both PDF and Word documents can be attached to zoning applications; multiple files can be attached to an application. Links can be provided to an external document management system if this integration has been included in the implementation.