Category Archives: RFP Question

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.

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:

https://www.citizenserve.com/building-permit-software/eplans-review-software-comments-and-markup-tool/

https://www.citizenserve.com/building-permit-software/citizenserve-document-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.

https://www.citizenserve.com/permitting-software/online-planning-and-zoning-software/

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.

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Infrastructure 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 the infrastructure behind Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

2.2     Infrastructure (Citizenserve is only offered as a Software as a Service solution)

2.2.1. Describe the infrastructure architecture for the network, end user devices (PC / Laptops), server, storage, and operating systems that comprise the solution. Include architectural diagrams.

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.

2.2.2. Describe the data centers supporting the solution for the City of Redmond. Include location and the redundancy and high availability architecture design.

Citizenserve Response: The main data center is Iron Mountain in Phoenix. Data and application servers are replicated to an Iron Mountain facility in Edison, New Jersey. Data and application servers are replicated locally in the primary data center, so we don’t have to move to the secondary facility if there is a hardware failure.

If a server fails, we have a backup server. If the facility fails, we have a geographically diverse backup data center.  If our data center provider fails, we have a standby facility capable of restoring operations in less than an hour.

2.2.3. Describe any WAN bandwidth requirements for connectivity between the City of Redmond’s network and the vendor.

Citizenserve Response: Any contemporary internet connection will work.

2.2.4. Describe any unique network requirements (LAN or WAN) for optimal operation of this solution.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a 100% browser-based software application and can be accessed from any desktop or mobile device.

2.2.5. Describe the network design requirements to ensure there are no latency issues.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve is a 100% browser-based software.  Any contemporary data plan is sufficient to use the software.  Performance is continually monitored regarding the software bandwidth and resource requirements to identify areas of improvement or bottlenecks.

2.2.6. Describe your solution’s backup protocol.

Citizenserve Response: Incremental backups or logs are made every 15 minutes and the logs are kept indefinitely so data can be restored to any point in time. Full backups are performed twice weekly and whenever a new version is released. Full backups are always test restored in read-only recovery mode to allow for logs to be restored if necessary to the backup copy. Database consistency checks are performed regularly with offline copies. At least one full copy is maintained per month for historical archiving.

The main data center is Iron Mountain in Phoenix. Data and application servers are replicated to an Iron Mountain facility in Edison, New Jersey. Data and application servers are replicated locally in the primary data center, so we don’t have to move to the secondary facility if there is a hardware failure.

If a server fails, we have a backup server. If the facility fails, we have a geographically diverse backup data center.  If our data center provider fails, we have a standby facility capable of restoring operations in less than an hour.

2.2.7. Describe the RTO/RPO’s for restores.

Citizenserve Response: System Recovery Time Objective (RTO) on production servers for minor failures such as a server failure is less than one hour. RTO on production servers for major failures such as a data center failure is four hours. System Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is 15 minutes on application servers and database servers.

2.2.8. Provide an application and web services diagram illustrating the different components and functions of the solution. Include details on firewall requirements, servers, security, database integration, and software.

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.

2.2.9. 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.

Application Configuration 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 more information about some of the Application Configuration features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.2     Application Configuration

1.2.1. Business rules and workflows must be quickly adaptable to business requirements and changes. Describe the solution’s workflow configuration and change capabilities. Provide a simple diagram of the workflow engine or configuration tool process.

Citizenserve Response: All file types support one or more workflows.  A workflow is a collection of activity types that are completed in a certain order.  Workflows can be configured in any combination of parallel or sequential activities.  The following video demonstration contains a short overview of workflows in Citizenserve:

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/workflow-routing/

1.2.2. Describe the solution’s scalability and flexibility to accommodate future needs; this includes future growth and the addition of other departments’ permitting needs or services.

Citizenserve Response: Any new department or sub-departments can be created at any time.  These departments can create their own permit types, license types, file types, case types, etc. on-the-fly in production without effecting any other departments.  The Citizenserve subscription provides for unlimited storage, bandwidth, processing power and support.

1.2.3. Describe the solution’s ability to provide granular role-based management for screen access, rights, and privileges so staff views the information relevant to them, and not additional tabs or other information they use less often.

Citizenserve Response: User rights are based on roles developed at the organization, department and sub-department levels.  The following video demonstration covers information on user rights and the following screenshot illustrates the rollup of rights for a specific user.

https://www.citizenserve.com/building-permit-software/community-development-software-user-rights/

1.2.4. Does the solution support sending email and text messages to provide status and update information?

Citizenserve Response: Yes, email notification options can be set up in many areas of the software, as well as in merge reports that merge lists and send template communications out.  Text messaging is also supported.  For example, sending a contractor or applicant a template email when a permit status changes is easy to configure.

1.2.5. What are the three most common changes requested post implementation?

Citizenserve Response: The Citizenserve subscription includes unlimited support.  This includes setting up new permit types, license types, or file types; changes in configuration; training; custom report creation; changes in workflows; changes in fees; etc.  After customers go live there are ongoing improvements with each Citizenserve implementation.  As a Software-as-a-Service solution we are committed to helping our customers better serve their constituents and have provided unlimited support with the software since inception.  The following video is an overview of the Citizenserve support:

https://www.citizenserve.com/portfolio-view/complete-customer-care-3/

Reporting 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 reporting features included in Citizenserve's e-government software solution.

1.13   Reporting

1.13.1. Describe the capability to provide standard reports for operational, managerial, and executive reporting.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve includes a robust offering of standard reports; in addition, the development of an unlimited number of custom reports is included in the subscription.

1.13.2. Describe the solution’s capability to provide ad hoc tools or templates that provide the ability for users to create their own reports based on available elements.

Citizenserve Response: There is a built-in end-user reporting wizard in Citizenserve that allows non-technical users to design their own reports and share the reports with others. The reporting tool supports the use of custom fields on the application forms. End users can create their own tabular, map, chart, and merge reports.

1.13.3. Describe the solution’s ability to support both ad-hoc and scheduled reporting.

Citizenserve Response: There is a built-in end-user reporting wizard in Citizenserve that allows non-technical users to design their own reports and share the reports with others. The reporting tool supports the use of custom fields on the application forms. End users can create their own tabular, map, chart, and merge reports.

If the City prefers, users can request the creation of a custom report at any time as part of Citizenserve’s unlimited support. Citizenserve has same-day turnaround on most reports. Our staff will create a SQL script in a stored procedure that is rendered by the software and can contain process features and HTML. The SQL scripts create maximum flexibility.

Scheduled reports are available for an additional fee.

1.13.4. Describe the solution’s ability to allow for the creation of actively updating dashboards for both internal users and external customers.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve provides multiple, actively updating 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.

1.13.5. Describe the solution’s analytics capabilities, both native and integration with Business Intelligence tools, such as Power BI.

Citizenserve Response: Citizenserve uses Microsoft SQL Server as its database engine.  A copy of the database can be provided for data warehousing and business intelligence purposes.  Unlimited custom reports are included in the subscription and an end user report writing tool is built into the software.  Reports can be exported as Excel or CSV files for use with end user analysis tools.