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Empowering Planners: Harnessing Data and Insights for Community Development

Data-driven Decision-making Empowers Planning Departments

Data collection and utilization are everywhere in today's interconnected world. We hear exciting talk about how big data can help solve the world's problems. But how can planning departments use data and technology tools to help make data-driven decisions that solve their locality's problems? This article looks at data's potential for planners and how technology tools can empower their decision-making process.

Actionable Insights for Day-to-Day Efficiencies

Plan review is arguably one of the areas where planning departments spend the most time. The review process can be stressful for plan reviewers and applicants, but data helps build transparency and create actionable insights.

Plan reviewers leverage dashboards to manage their workload in modern permitting software solutions. These interactive single sources of truth help show planners when reviews are due, which have been resubmitted, and those that are most important. Reviewers use this data to prioritize their day.

Managers gain actionable insights into how their team is performing. Customized dashboards provide detailed views of their staff's current workload, average turnaround times, and the average number of resubmitted applications. Management's informed objective decisions make their teams more efficient.

The planning process can take several months. Applicants without visibility into the workflow behind the scenes are frustrated by lengthy turnaround times. Capturing and analyzing data on each review duration and the time spent waiting for additional information or input from the customer provides a more realistic picture of the process. Roadblocks and bottlenecks are surfaced for your staff and the applicant. With this newfound clarity, a more accurate understanding of the plan review process emerges, and adjustments can be made to help alleviate frustration.

Leveraging Data and Insights to Build a Business Case

From a leadership perspective, accurate and easily accessible data are crucial for building a business case. If you're justifying additional staff or communicating the impact of recent staffing shortages, the ability to identify how many applications are being submitted and current turnaround times help build your case.

Data makes it possible to identify long-standing trends, such as the most common violations, and application characteristics with the most issues, or pinpoint geographic areas with the most resubmitted applications. With this insight, you can adjust your approach to serve the public best and invest the right resources in the right programs.

Data and insights are incredibly powerful when approaching proactive planning projects. Whether your agency is attempting to build more affordable housing or create more revitalized green space, having data at your fingertips is essential. The ability to plug other data sources into your permitting software is a huge benefit. These combined tools can highlight previously unseen development trends and further support decision-making when overlayed with unique economic insights.

What to Look For in Your Permitting Software

Gone are the days of relying on a report to guide your decisions. Modern software solutions provide actionable insights built directly into the software. Embedding data and insights into your workday empowers you to make informed decisions. Real-time data allows you to act sooner without extra steps and clicks. For example, as a manager, you see that a reviewer has the most work assigned to them. Tools built into the software allow you to reassign that work with a few clicks on your dashboard.

Data and analytical tools should be accessible to various roles within your agency. How often does senior leadership wait on a weekly or monthly report to see what's happening in their agency? With their customized data views, leadership can access dashboards built just for them to see trends and metrics they care about in real time.

When thinking of the different roles within your agency, remember to include the public's desire to understand service level agreements (SLAs), priorities, trends, and status updates from the agency. Your permitting software should allow the public to access some of this information online, helping create transparency and serve your community better.


Leverage modern permitting software solutions that prioritize data and insights for a deeper understanding of your department, make objective decisions, and more effectively communicate to senior leadership and the public. Look for tools that consolidate the information into real-time, consumable, and actionable metrics. You don't have to be a data scientist to maximize these tools and set your department up for success!


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Tyler Technologies (NYSE: TYL) provides integrated software and technology services to the public sector. Tyler's end-to-end solutions empower local, state, and federal government entities to operate more efficiently and connect more transparently with their constituents and with each other. By connecting data and processes across disparate systems, Tyler's solutions are transforming how clients gain actionable insights that solve problems in their communities. Tyler Technologies' client base includes more than 15,000 local government offices in all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, and other international locations.

August 1, 2023