At the beginning of August, Dallas launched new permitting software to help reduce the immense backlog of building permits plaguing the city.
City building permits are issued by the Development Services Department (DSD), which grants authorization to proceed with a construction or remodeling project on one’s own property. Building permits ensure that project plans comply with local land use, zoning, and construction standards.
Dallas’ permit backlog is creating costly damage to the city, according to Phill Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders Association. Crone previously told The Dallas Express that permit delays could cost builders $200-$300 per project, per day.
For a process that can take months to get a single-family permit issued, Crone said developers and do-it-yourselfers see Dallas’ permit backlog as vexing.
On August 8, DSD rolled out ProjectDox 9.2, a new cloud-based permit software allegedly with improved efficiencies and various enhancements designed to better capture and store information as well as to provide prospective builders an “effortless” user experience.
A memo to city council members written by Jack Wade Ireland Jr., chief financial officer for the Office of the City Manager, read:
“As part of the upgrade to ProjectDox 9.2, the software application was moved from an on-premises application operated out of the City’s data center to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application hosted by the application vendor. This change provides greater stability and improved user performance by simplifying the technical architecture. Additionally, the upgrade provides improved workflows and greater usability for both internal and external users.”
Still, upon the launch of ProjectDox 9.2, multiple issues arose, including “slow file synchronization” and “delays with data transfer,” DSD Director Andrew Espinoza told The Dallas Express.
“Our team went into maintenance mode on Saturday and Sunday (at night only) to ensure the data migration was completed, and all the information was brought over to the new software,” said Espinoza. “Solving the issues was a collaborative effort between the department, our vendor Avolve, and the City’s Information and Technology Services.”
Espinoza said the previous software had a rushed implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic and was prone to connectivity issues and regular service outages. He expressed confidence that the new software will help streamline the process and timeframe required to approve and issue new building permits.
Crone believes Espinoza’s team is working hard to address the ongoing backlog. However, he thinks DSD still has a long way to go before the new process fully works.
“From what I’ve seen, staff has shown a deep commitment to diving into the backlog, while at the same time, trying to make the process itself more efficient and improve the software,” Crone said.
He added, “I’ll be satisfied once it operates efficiently and effectively with permit timelines that are at least competitive with surrounding cities, and everyone there values the customers who depend on them.”
To spread awareness about the new software and to train local community members on how it is used, Espinoza’s team is conducting free training courses for ProjectDox 9.2.
The final class will take place on September 10, 2022, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The class will be in-person and held at the city’s training facility at 400 S. Zang Blvd.