Construction site

Challenge

Uppsala municipality had for many years seen a need to improve its management of building permits. A series of actions were taken, including employing more clerks to manage an increased number of errands. However, many aspects were still not working well enough, which was clear from the surveys of customer satisfaction that were performed.

The process of applying for a building permit was confusing, complex, and required large administrative efforts from both the clerk and the applicant. A number of clarifications were needed, including regarding what kinds of projects required a building permit and what an application had to contain. Having the possibility to get a cost estimate at an early stage was also important.

Post-it notes

Solution

The solution was an e-service that focuses on the phases that lead to an application and what happens after a building permit has been granted. The work involved mainly designers and developers, but clerks and other stakeholders from within the operations were also invited to join the project. A cross-functional team was created to solve the assignment in the best way possible.

The errand management system did not have support for comparing an application to digital regulations. Further, there were no clear ways to get access to digital detailed development plans or building regulations. Therefore, the solution was to analyze the entire customer journey. Observations, diary studies, and other user-centered methods revealed that the applicant was in need to support throughout the entire building permit application process. From the moment the applicant starts thinking about a building project through to when construction is complete and the final approval has been given.

There was a need for many answers at an early stage in the process

  • Is a building permit required for the kind of project I have in mind? Or would a report be enough? Or is nothing at all required?
  • Is my plan feasible? How large is the likelihood that I will get a building permit for what I have planned?
  • Can I simplify something in my project to avoid having to get a building permit?
  • What do I need to include in my application?
  • About how much will the building permit application cost me?
  • What is a detailed development plan and how can I get hold of it?
  • How should blueprints and documents be drawn up in order to be accepted?
  • What do I need to do in the application process, and when?
Man in front of computer

Results

Now, Uppsala municipality has a well-functioning e-service that simplifies work for the clerks and provides applicants with a smoother building permit application process and clearer answers to their questions.

An important insight that arose during the course of the project was that the clerks were not always in complete agreement regarding the correct answer in every situation. Therefore, the project drew up a descriptive rulebook or decision tree on how building permits should be managed within Uppsala municipality. With these decisions trees, the clerks can quickly narrow down exactly what the applicant needs to do and more easily help them determine whether or not a building permit is needed. Answers can more easily be given regarding which rules apply to a specific errand and also encompass which documents and data an application will need to include. A positive side effect of the decision trees is that all clerks can now use the same interpretations. In addition, the materials are valuable resources when new clerks are employed.

Going forward, it is also possible to keep working on integrating the e-service with other existing systems and iteratively create improvements and gradually launch new and improved releases.

Learn more
Joel Stenberg
Contact Reference case Uppsala Municipality
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