Ask any kid what they would like to be when they grow up, and the answers will vary widely. Becoming a police officer remains among the favorites, alongside professions like veterinarians, professional athletes, artists, and business owners. What you will not hear in surveys like this one published by resume service company Zety is anyone planning to become a code enforcement officer.
Why not? Perhaps because it is simply not a well-known profession. Perhaps also because code enforcement officers have one of the toughest roles in municipalities. What code enforcement involves on a day-to-day basis, varies from community to community. All communities, however, can benefit from streamlining their code enforcement processes with the help of dedicated code enforcement software like the one delivered through Mitchell Humphrey’s FastTrackGov® (FTG).
In this article, we dive deep into what effective code enforcement means for municipalities and how FTG’s code enforcement application can help.
Why Code Enforcement Can Be Tough for Municipalities
Code enforcement officers have one of the most varied jobs in municipalities. No hard and fast job description applies across the country because the underlying local laws – or codes – vary. But some aspects of the job are the same, no matter where you are in the U.S.
Code enforcement teams ensure that our communities are safe, attractive, and lawful. They provide information about local rules, evaluate potential breaches, and educate residents on compliance. As police officers deal with offenses and crimes, code enforcement officers address code violations. This includes issuing warnings or handing out citations.
What are common breaches of code? Depending on the municipality, code violations include illegal dumping of waste, parking violations, and lacking business permits. Breaches of local laws may also include excessive signage, neglecting animals, or otherwise creating a nuisance.
A Better Way of Dealing with Administrative Requirements
Just reading about the variety of potential violations that fall into the remit of code enforcement officers makes it clear how complex their job can be. Aside from these practical tasks, many code enforcement officers also need to deal with the paper trail created by the practical aspect of their work.
In some cases, dealing with the administrative side of their job may take code enforcement teams longer than the customer-facing side of their work. That is when the balance tilts and municipal code enforcement becomes ineffective. Few municipalities can afford to hire enough code enforcement officers to keep some off the street or complete administrative work every day. They need their officers on the ground, talking to citizens and preventing violations.
FTG’s code enforcement software has been designed with those requirements in mind. The tool allows code enforcement teams to spend their time in the community, while the software takes care of the lion’s share of administration and documentation.
How FastTrackGov® Streamlines Code Enforcement Work
What does taking care of the lion’s share mean in reality? In this section, we will break down code enforcement work into three different parts that correspond with the structure of code enforcement across thousands of municipalities in our country.
1. How Code Inspectors Benefit From Using Software
Code inspectors or code enforcement officers are the people on the ground in the community, They make and attend appointments with individuals and businesses to carry out inspections. And they may also be the first to be called when citizens notice code violations.
FTG’s code enforcement software is critical in minimizing the need for inspectors to duplicate work while also streamlining their planning process. Streamlining starts by allowing on-site inspectors and their back-office teams to maintain current schedules. As soon as an appointment is moved or canceled, the municipality’s back-office updates the inspector’s schedule.
The inspector receives a notification and avoids losing time. Instead, they can move up another appointment or free up time for different tasks. Aside from scheduling, recording the results of inspections traditionally took much of the inspector’s time. FTG simplifies this part of the process by allowing teams to record their findings in the field, either via their smartphone or a tablet.
Rather than returning to the office and transferring handwritten notes to a computer, inspectors enter information, including images and videos, directly on-site. The software also allows them to create and issue warnings, violation notices and citations, or other letters when they are on the road.
Also, if inspectors are called to an unfamiliar case, access to inspection checklists allows them to see what exactly they need to look for. Online codebooks remove any confusion from the process of issuing citations and prevent complaints later in the process.
FTG seamlessly integrates with geographic information software, allowing code enforcement teams to clear up misunderstandings with the help of maps and other representations of the information they are keeping. With these software-based solutions, there can be no doubt that inspectors are scrutinizing the correct building, for example.
If the team finds a violation and needs to issue a citation, they can sign the document online directly within the FTG code enforcement module and email it to the proper person. While each aspect of the process makes some degree of difference to the workload of code inspectors, their true impact only becomes clear when compared to the alternative.
2. How Public Officials Benefit from Using Code Enforcement Software
Just like code inspectors save time and streamline their working day with the help of software, public officials in your municipality will find it easier to analyze the results of this work.
FTG’s user-friendly dashboard allows officials to gain a quick overview of data like processed requests from citizens, citations issued within a certain period, and fees that have been paid. They can also download more detailed reports to see how the community is progressing toward goals like a reduction in citations, for example.
FTG’s code enforcement tools easily enhance citizen satisfaction across entire communities. Instead of making appointments to see their code enforcement team during limited opening hours, citizens can request information or report potential violations when it suits them.
By automating part of the code enforcement process, municipality officials limit the potential for mistakes that would need to be rectified later. They also grow their municipality’s revenue potential as fewer disputes need to be addressed, thus reducing the demands placed on employees’ time.
In addition, managers and team leaders can stay up to date on their team’s progress in all aspects of code enforcement. They can easily see which appointments have been completed with what outcome and where team members may require additional support.
3. How Clerks and Administrators Benefit from Code Enforcement Software
Every municipality is different. In smaller communities, it is not uncommon for code enforcement officers or inspectors to have to complete their own administrative work. In larger communities, the task of logging inspections, transferring handwritten inspection notes into computer systems, and issuing warnings or citations often fell to a team of clerks or administrators.
Using software like FTG’s code enforcement products not only lightens the workload for administrators but also creates opportunities to upskill and take on more complex roles. The software allows them to control revenues by automatically recording incoming payments or issuing fee notices and reminders when those payments are delayed.
Administrators and clerks can also develop into more of a team leader-type role and organize and distribute work to inspectors in the community. Instead of calling their external teams about new appointments, administrators simply add them to the inspector’s calendar. The software then takes the job of ordering assignments by location, inspector availability and qualification, or a specific type of inspection.
With their level of access, municipal clerks can provide inspectors with detailed lists for each job, minimizing the risk of something being forgotten and an inspection needing to be repeated.
Implementing a comprehensive software solution like FTG streamlines the code enforcement team’s work. Inspectors, administrators, and public officials gain access to current information on all aspects of code enforcement in the community, allowing them to work together more closely. The risk of information being lost between departments is greatly reduced, thanks to every detail being recorded and kept in one place.
Citizens will notice the difference, too, as dealing with code enforcement issues becomes simpler and faster. Whether your team is enforcing parking regulations or ensuring that new buildings are safe for all their users, software solutions like FTG can help bring the entire community closer together.
To learn more or schedule a demo, contact our team today.