AACE – Code Conference

84Works at the Annual American Association of Code Enforcement ConferenceWhat a great week we had at the AACE (American Association for Code Enforcement) Annual Conference outside Denver.  Thanks to all the Code Officers and the AACE Board for making us feel so welcome.  We even had a little snow on one of the days to make for beautiful white landscape around the Broomfield area.

At the conference we met a lot of folks and had a lot of great conversations surrounding code enforcement software and what is working for people and what is not working.  Quite a few folks mentioned that they wanted better mapping features to provide a visual representation of where cases were located within their jurisdictions.  These features were much like a Google map with multiple pins dropped on a map so the officer can see where all of their follow-up cases might be that day.  While the current version of our Code software has some mapping features, we don’t have this specific feature and so we have added it to our development roadmap and should have it programmed into our software in the next few months.

Something that we were taken aback by at the conference, was the overwhelming number of cities who had a story about how bad their current code software was.  Several themes included: 1. How their current vendor’s sales team sold them software with features that their software didn’t even have, or that their programmers couldn’t deliver on;  2. The installation of the city-wide enterprise system started two or more years ago and the Code system still hadn’t been installed or still wasn’t working correctly;  3. The current software cost hundred of thousands of dollars and was the most difficult and time consuming software they have ever used.  A couple folks even said their software is so cumbersome, they have stopped using it and gone back to using Excel spreadsheets to track their Cases.

On one-hand, these stories were really disheartening to hear as to how poorly software vendors are treating cities.  These experiences put software companies like us in a bad light and we wouldn’t blame cities for not wanting to talk to us for fear they are going to be sold another bag of goods.  On the other hand, these poor experiences have opened up quite a few doors for us.  In those same conversations we demonstrated how easy our software was to use and the features that were included in the current version of our Code software.  Most folks were blown away by how easy our software could create cases, search and add code violations, and create courtesy letters.  And if we didn’t have a feature, we were transparent and like the mapping feature above, could only promise to put that feature in our development pipeline and bring it to our Code software in the near future.

Again, it was a great week at AACE, where we learned a lot from talking with all of the folks involved.  We hope to see you all again next year!

 

CALBO Technology Committee

California Building Officials - CALBOCome see Mark Abbott participate with a panel of Building and Safety technology leaders to discuss Technology for Building & Safety Operations at the 56th Annual California League of Building Officials (CALBO) Business Meeting.  The discussion will take place Tuesday March 27th at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport at 9am and 10:45am.  We hope to see you there.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2018From all of us at 84Works, we would like to wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2018!  We look forward to serving you and continuing to getting to know you in the new year.

As for 2017, it was a crazy whirlwind year for us in that we were able to deliver several product updates as well as continue to grow our client base.  We are excited about our product road map for 2018 and hope that it continues to bring about more efficiencies for you and your municipality in the new year.

2017 International Code Conference

Hey everyone.  We are excited to be showcasing our software again at the International Code Conference Annual Business Meeting Expo (ICC ABM) next week and we will be on the expo floor on both Sunday September 10th and Monday September 11th.  Please come by and say hello and pick up a Starbucks card or torpedo level.

We love meeting with folks to see if we can solve any software workflow issues you may be having.  We especially like to hear stories about creative ways you’ve been able to solve new issues that have popped up over the past year.  Often times we get stuck in our little bubble and this is a great way for us to network and learn about: 1. New state requirements or; 2. How you’ve overcome old building and safety workflow issues with new and more efficient processes.  So please stop by and share with us.

Lastly, this year, we have a brand new Code Enforcement module ready for prime time to show off.  We DO understand this is the ICC ABM and most of you folks are Building and Safety personnel, but there are a handful of you out there who pull double duty as Code Enforcement officers too.  So if you interested in Code Enforcement software, we’d love to show off our hot new toy.

Thanks and see you soon!

Starting With Why

Why Choose Us?

1. Our software is fun to use

This may sound silly, but don’t you want work to be fun?  You often have to fight customers, so why fight your software too?  We make using our software fun.

2.  Our software is cheap

Ok, well it isn’t that cheap, but why is software for cities and counties so bloody expensive?  We don’t know, but we are trying to make it less expensive.

3.  Our software is easy to use

Maybe this ties in with the fun, but with our permit module, we have tried to make issuing a permit as fast as possible.  We are a bunch of Building Officials and Permit Techs, so we appreciate speed.  The easier the software is to use, the faster a permit can be issued and the more fun we have.

But Really… Why Choose Us?

More and more it seems that building permitting systems and other local government software solutions contain a lot of the same features.  They all collect permit data and track inspections.  Most can calculate plan check and permit fees.  Some are capable of GIS and Electronic Plan Check.  And since these features are mostly congruent across all solutions, what can possibly persuade someone to buy one software solution over another?

The answer is in the “why.”  Why do we build software solutions for local government?  Because its sexy?  No.  Because it will change the world?  No.  We started building software for local governments because we highly value the Permit Technician, the Code Technician and the Engineering Assistant and the work they do.  These folks are the first line of defense at the Building and Safety counter, the Code Enforcement Department and the Public Works counter.  They are often the ones who make the first impressions to the public and they are the ones who get to juggle all of the crazy personalities that come into a City Hall.

We made our software extremely easy, we charge less and the result is people are happier using our solutions.  Why?  Because if we can make life just that much easier, then why not?  There’s no reason that when you have a tough customer that you should have to work with a stupidly complex and expensive permit system too.  That is why.

“Open Data” is Coming!

What is open data?  And why should you care

First, open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.  There are a lot of benefits to creating software that provides open data, but as it relates to our software products, it will help other developers connect their solutions to our solutions for better information transfer.

Open DataOpen data really benefitted the transportation industry years ago when subways, buses, railroads, etc., started opening up their software.  This allowed Google Maps to start adding transportation information right into their Google Maps app.

So why should you care?  Well, imagine if every city’s permit software allowed Zillow real-time access to permit information?  Home buyers could be better informed about purchases and Permit Techs wouldn’t have to do tedious searching or copying of old permits.  The benefits that this could provide to any Building Departments is unlimited.

With that, there is a movement starting amongst cities to adopt open data policies as well as amongst building permit software providers to adopt open data standards as well.  We are jumping on this open data train and are currently adding these standards to our software so that when Zillow comes calling, we will be ready.

Customer Portal for Electronic Plan Check

As we’ve blogged about in the past, an electronic plan check solution is not complete until you combine a building permit system, a customer web site (portal) and a PDF markup tool together.  It has only been two years since we began partnering with ePlanSoft to connect our Permits, building permitting solution, with a customer portal and ePlanSoft’s patented electronic plan check markup program.  But since we feel that the improvement of software is a perpetual process, we are excited to announce the launch of our completely redesigned portal that has brought drastic improvement to the entire customer’s experience of an electronic plan check submittal.

We really worked hard to build an easy to use portal that has an intuitive feel and brings about a much more pleasant workflow for every customer.  The web site is now compatible in all browsers using HTML5, CSS and PHP and will also be fully responsive in upcoming releases… although we are not sure why you would want to submit a plan check application from a tablet, but we know it is coming!  We even built-in functions that people have come to expect from good web sites, such as: the ability to drag and drop PDF’s onto the screen for easy uploading, graphic validation checks so you can visually see if something is wrong with your data entry, and the simple ability to click a button to have your account information copied into project applicant and/or owner fields.

Please take a look at the video below which is a walk-through of how easy it is to submit for an electronic plan check using our new portal.

Overview of Permits… Our municipal building and safety permit software.

Our world-class permit solution, called Permits, is a full-featured building and safety software for cities.  Permits is not the typical permitting solution that is über expensive, super complicated to use and makes a Permit Tech’s job more difficult than it has to be.  Permits actually make building permits easy to issue while providing an enormous number of features that can make any Building Department more efficient.

Unique features of Permits include:

  • Estimates – A dedicated screen to create and print estimated permit fees in seconds.
  • Dashboard – Built-in bar graphs for permit fee data with no Crystal Reports!
  • Kiosk – Get rid of paper and have customers fill out permit applications on an iPad.

Another one our latest upgrades has been building a customer web site for permit applicants to upload plans and pay a plan check fee.  With this we have also incorporated ePlanSoft’s electronic plan check software into Permits for a complete full service electronic plan check system.

For additional feature information and pricing, please download our Permits flyer.

Stay tuned for more announcements and videos!

 

Electronic Plan Check Customer Web Site

Question: What is the Customer Web Site of the Electronic Plan Check (ePC) system?

Answer: It is the public interface where the uploading/downloading of plans and payment of plan check fees take place.

Not much gets mentioned about the customer web site, often called customer portal, that is provided by companies that sell ePC services.  The reason for this is because companies don’t spend a lot of time on the customer experience and these web site are awful.

We feel the customer experience is extremely important and that this web site must be of top notch quality.  It is possibly the only thing that the homeowner, architect or contractor interacts with during the plan check process, so it should be really good.

Hip slick and cool web sites are easy to create these days.  But hip slick and cool web sites that interact with building permit systems and ePC systems are nonexistent… except for our customer web site.  We all have used those web sites that are difficult to navigate, not compatible with a particular browser or shady enough to make you wonder whether you credit card is going to be stolen.

Our web site provides a top notch customer experience that is easy to navigate, quick to work through and provides the latest drag and drop capabilities with the highest of credit card security.  In fact, we don’t see or keep any credit card data, as we provide Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance by programming the credit card processor’s payment gateway right into our site.

Lastly our customer web site can be branded with a city/county seal or logo and your city/county colors.  We have taken a lot of pride in developing this customer web site to make it the best for your constituents.

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